Red Hot + Rio

Released by Verve Records in 1996 as part of the AIDS awareness project
The LP features an all-star ensemble of Brazilian bossa nova & nova bossa artists plus some of the best world music artists like Sting, David Byrne, Ryuichi Sakamoto & more

Our feature for next week’s iRadio broadcast. This is just one in a series of albums that started in 1990 and showcased the world’s best Brasilian/jazz musicians, in support for the search of a cure for AIDS. Very noteable was the combo of Astrud Gilberto and George Michael – as well as Everything But the Girl’s rendition of Tom Jobim‘s classic, “Corcovado“.

In Search of Caldera

Once in a while, we are in the hunt for music we had loved listening to – maybe, all throughout the years of our existence. What compounds the problem is the ever-changing mode of

The audio cassette greatly increased the distr...
The audio cassette greatly increased the distribution of bootleg recordings in the 1980s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

recording music. It seemed that only a few years back, I was either listening to vinyl records or to 8-track tapes (and yes, even the “reeled” ones).

The latter was immediately replaced by cassette tapes while the former lingered on for a while even as the ‘digital media’ formats slowly trickled in –led by the CD.

Digital Audio Tape (DAT) tried to regain the glory days of tapes – in digital format – but the mechanism was simply too cumbersome to make DAT players a commercial success, such that almost all of the digital tape formats fizzled out.

Now that digital media is the norm, we have all sorts of storage devices for them. But the principle is the same: Music now resides as mere “ones” and “zeros” in whatever form of digital storage there is: hard drives, flash memory, MiniDiscs, CDs, DVDs, etc, etc.

But this blog is not about the medium of storing music but about the jazz/fusion group called Caldera.

Sky Islands by Caldera
Inspite of its popularity and massive collection, iTunes -still- doesn’t have this LP available

I can still vividly recall that it was in the mid-70s when I was listening to their unique kind of music. Theirs was an eclectic blend of jazz/Brasilian/Flamenco and probably, New Age.

The core members of the group were Costa Rican guitarist Jorge Strunz (another guitarist, Ardeshir Farah, later teamed up with him and they are now popularly known as ‘Strunz and Farah’), a keyboardist from Argentina, Eduardo del Barrio and drummer Carlos Vega.

The other members also came from countries in South America plus some musicians that performed with the group, Earth, Wind and Fire. Then young and unknown but now extremely popular, Diane Reeves also performed as vocalist for the group – most notably in the very melodious and mystical track, “Ancient Source.”

Yes, it was in the era when cassette tapes and vinyl records were king. Now, I want to listen to some of their songs again and put it in my iPod. But I seem to have a hard time searching for their recordings in the easiest-to-find (and legal) digital format on the Internet: original CD versions of their albums. Since they were just an obscure group which disbanded a long time ago (1979), there were very, very few releases (remastered) of their albums in CD –when this medium became the standard in the early 80s.

Of course, I can simply ‘digitize’ my cassette and vinyl collection of their recordings. But, the procedure is not only too tedious, but, also, the end-product is not ‘digitally perfect’ compared to the commercial CD versions. For me, the CD is still the cheapest and easiest medium to ‘juggle’ digital music around. I may have to do it the hard way if my search for their CDs on the web proved futile.

Until then, I will have to content myself listening to their unique brand of music –plus the ‘noises’ we usually associate with recordings done in analog format.

I am simply dying to hear the unadulterated, digital version of their recording, “Seraphim” (from the album, “Sky Islands” – 1977, Capitol Records).

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Natural do Rio de Janeiro

Ze Renato performs songs composed by Ze Keti. Most of the songs are in Portuguese but the melodies are lovely.

This is the CD that we will be featuring this weekend (hopefully) in my iRadio webcast. I purchased this personally from the popular CD store in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro and it was very, very close to the pub/restaurant (fomerly known as Valhala) where the late maestros, Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, composed the bossa nova standard, “Girl from Ipanema.”

The store is called “Toca de Vinicius”. Not because Vinicius de Moraes started or opened the store but because it was located in a street named after Vinicius — Rua de Vinicius de Moraes. Literally, it meant, “Place of Vinicius.”

Ze Renato is a prolific performer who first attracted my attention when I saw him performed in one of the numerous shows that paid homage to Tom Jobim.

His voice seemed to yearn for the better days that had passed — like a reminder of the times when people seem to be simpler, more humble and more gentle.

It is interesting to note that former Pat Metheny Group percussionist, Armando Marcal, was also the lead percussionist in all tracks. Most of the songs were composed by Ze Keti and the CD was dedicated to Nara Leao.

The Gentle Side of Reno

We made an impromptu trip to Reno, NV last Saturday – after heavy rains lashed-out the Bay Area on Thursday and Friday – to pump up our sagging adrenaline levels and to try our luck in the numerous casinos there.

Downtown Reno, including the city's famous arc...
Downtown Reno, including the city’s famous arch over Virginia Street at night. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The trip was smooth as silk and the weather was simply spectacular. In three hours, we were already playing our favorite slot machines in Boomtown in nearby Sparks. We moved on to downtown Reno later on in the afternoon.

Reno was noticeably not particularly busy on that gorgeous weekend. The Indian casinos must have taken a very large bite out of their lucrative business. Casino habitués were not flocking to this mini “Sin City” like they used to –specially on a very nice weekend like that one.

For us, it was a welcome relief. Traffic inside the main strip was very light and going from one place to another was easy as it could get. Parking was incredibly hassle-free (specially with the use of my ‘temporarily disabled’ parking card — note: in Indian casinos, these privilege parking spaces seem to be always full) and going in and out of the casinos was without the usual hustle and bustle. In was an exceptionally relaxing weekend in an otherwise stressful place.

As an aside, we also dropped-by our favorite Filipino eatery in Vallejo – Andrea’s – where we picked-up all our food for the entire trip. These included “chicken adobo” and the saucy “beef kaldereta” with rice. For dessert, we had the “taho” (a food/drink made basically of curdled soy beans) with lots “arnibal” (syrup made of brown sugar and vanilla) and “sago” (tapioca pearls).

Of course, the package won’t be complete without their irresistible and delightfully crispy “lechon” with the mildly spicy liver sauce.

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Tita’s Arrival

Imus, Cavite
Imus, Cavite (Photo credit: ~MVI~ (warped))

Today, my Tita Yeyit and Tita Ising will arrive from Manila and they will stay with us for two months.

I hope that I can show them around to places where they have not been to yet!


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