Thursday, February 14, 2013

“Manha de Carnaval”

A happy Thursday, friends. I have some beautiful guitar music for you today.

“Manha de Carnaval,” also known by its English title as “A Day in the Life of a Fool,” is by the great guitarist & composer Luiz Bonfa, & was written for the film Orfeu Negro or Black Orpheus, which debuted in 1959 at a time when the new Bossa Nova style of Brazilian music was beginning to come to the attention of North American jazz players. & three Bossa Nova classics were part of the film—not just “Manha de Carnaval,” but also Bonfa’s “Samba de Orfeu” (“Orpheus’ Samba”), as well as Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “A Felicidade.”

This month we’re featuring the music of Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, & he made several noted recordings of “Manha de Carnaval.” This is a live version from 1970, & it truly is a tour de force, showcasing Baden Powell’s expressive range as well as the ease with which he could execute lightning fast cadenzas. Needless to say, doing this with a lit cigarette in your hand is not a great idea, though from what I understand, Baden Powell was a chain smoker. But that’s merely an oddity—an unfortunate one, in my opinion, but we shouldn’t let it mar an otherwise powerful performance.

Of course the Morning of the Carnival is over—the Carnival season has passed. But oddly, the song has always struck me for its mournfulness & it’s feeling of the morning after—nostalgia & regret. The title makes absolute sense in the context of the film, however.

I’ve seen some transcriptions of various versions of Manha de Carnaval by Baden Powell—in fact, those who are interested can find a great collection at this link. The fact is it’s not that his versions overall are that complicated, with the exception of the fast cadenzas. But even in the simplest parts, it is hard to marshal the feeling & tone that Baden Powell had at his command; a truly remarkable musician.


Image of the film poster links to its source on Wiki Commons, where a fair use argument is made for its use. There are multiple instances of this image online, most at considerably higher resolution.


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