On the 26th and 27th of this month, Teatro Oficina, in São Paulo, will host a show that promises to enter the extensive gallery of the famous events it hosted. Revisiting gems from his repertoire, such as Gotham City, Hotel of the Stars, Secret Evil e cheap steam, the carioca composer Jards Macalé will promote a sensorial experience alongside Lanny Gordin, king of tropicalist guitar and decisive partner for the vibrant sound of his anthological debut album, eponymous, from 1972.

In addition to the historic reunion of Jards and Lanny, Jards Symphony – Meditation for Cosmobaba, should provoke stimuli with the unusual interactivity it proposes. Directed by Chico França and Gregório Gananian, audiovisual pieces edited from the capture of five cameras will be projected simultaneously on five screens, which promise to dialogue with the performance of Macao and Lanny.

Filming took place in January and the report by Brazilian was infiltrated in the composer's house, in Rio de Janeiro, and in the recording sets, over five days. The impressions of this rich experience of proximity to the man behind the author of real greatness, obscured by the eternal aura of the damned, are narrated below.

The patriotic bat of the Botanical Garden                                                                Monday of relentless heat in Rio de Janeiro, 10 am. After crossing the Rio-Niterói bridge and facing intense traffic at Aterro do Flamengo, we drove out of breath in two cars to the streets of Jardim Botânico, towards Jards Macalé's house.

Under the right arm of Christ the Redeemer, in a small ground floor apartment on a narrow U-shaped cobblestone street, Jards awaits us at the anxious gate.

Fixed on the wall at the entrance of his apartment, I observe two signs worshiped by the Rio de Janeiro musician: a huge kite of nylonin the shape of a bat and a wooden clock with the Brazilian flag carved by hand and, in the space reserved for “order and progress”, the sentence “disorder and return”. A gift from filmmaker friend Nelson Pereira dos Santos and a reference to Jards' real devotion to the Brazilian flag.

Jards Macalé and Vinicius de Moraes in a 1962 record. Affectionately framed image affixed to one of the walls of Macalé's apartment. Photo: Personal archive

Without fear of disorder and return, since it first provoked public furor, in 1969, when it took the stage of the IV Festival Internacional da Canção, accompanied by Os Brazões, to defend Gotham City, in partnership with his friend, poet, Capinam, Macalé has followed the paths taken by some of his illustrious peers from the 1960s, such as Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. He has never known the same commercial success as this tropicalist “holy trinity”, but he has always defended a haughty condition of being on the sidelines. As he said in his eponymous 1998 album: “Damned is the mother, what I do is music!”.

to the sound of Wave in the sublime voice of João Gilberto, before we leave for the first recording of the first day, Macalé takes a quick look at his schedule to check the appointments for the next few days. He enthusiastically talks about his friend Luiz Melodia's birthday, which will take place on Thursday, and remembers that he won't be able to record early the next day. He will have to go to the weekly psychoanalysis session and also return his analyst's suit, kindly borrowed so that he could attend with the necessary grace for the inauguration of the Minister of Culture, Ana de Hollanda, in Brasilia, in a ceremony held days before. Since 1994, Jards and Ana have been the protagonists of a colorful friendship that (the singer suggests) makes a fine line with affective interests.

Suspicious, Macalé changes the subject. As he tunes his guitar, he recalls João Gilberto's hilarious attempt to steal it, in 1972. Back to the country – in the famous passage in which he demanded to be received by Caetano Veloso and played a ping-pong game with him in the lobby of the Galeão –, João arrived wanting to know which was the best guitar in Rio. More than one musician recommended the guru from Bahia to borrow Jards's.

A devoted fan of João, and also aware of his idol's reputation for collecting other people's guitars, Macalé hesitated a lot, but decided to borrow the instrument manufactured by the renowned Uruguayan luthier Juan C. Santurion. To be on the safe side, he demanded that Octávio Terceiro, João's inseparable agent, return the instrument immediately, as soon as the last chord was played on the Canecão.

 

A long and affectionate hug and the whispered request of “… Let's take it easy, Caetano”, suggest a gradual rapprochement. Anyone who has listened to 'Transa' – the Bahian's masterpiece, whose musical direction was uncredited by Jards, the reason this is alleged as the trigger for the fight – knows how much this rupture of affective ties was also a regrettable casualty for our music.

 

Four days later, no guitar. Macalé says that, indignant, he went to the hotel where João was staying and only left almost five hours later. After going up and down the elevators four times, Octávio Terceiro, recalls Macao, set off again, taking with him some banana candy that Jards had just bought on the street. Upon arriving in the room, Terceiro offered one of them to João, who, at the first bite, wanted to know the origin of the delicacy that made him remember the sweets he ate as a child in Juazeiro – elusive, he asked: “But why did the Jards don't go up, Octavio? Bring him here and please find out where these sweets come from!”

Guitar rescued, a musical friendship would be born from there. In the second meeting, a visit to the house of Lygia, mother of Macalé, who lives in Penedo, in the countryside of Rio, the invitation to an afternoon coffee was taken literally by João and his eccentricities. Hearing the bell, Jards went to the door and came face to face with the Bahian carrying a guitar, coffee grounds and a colander on his shoulder!

Jards Macalé and the Brazões present 'Gotham City' at the 1969 International Song Festival. Photo: Personal archive

The schedule for the first morning of filming begins with the production of videos that will accompany the execution of Let's Play That, track from Jards' first album, with the elegant pen of the poet Torquato Neto.

In search of inspiration, Macalé looks for the homonymous CD in which he re-recorded the theme with Naná Vasconcelos, in 1983, and puts the track to play on the repeat, in party volume. As he locks the apartment and goes out into the street, I notice that he hasn't turned off the phone and that the music will continue to echo over and over again through the neighborhood. He shrugs his shoulders and concludes: “Let it play, what's the problem?! I'm a single guy, I don't owe anyone satisfaction!”

We head to an alley with an extensive staircase, about 500m from Jards' house, which, alluding to Tarzan, emits a guttural scream that echoes through the humid and exuberant forest of Morro do Corcovado. It doesn't take long for us to be chased by mosquitoes and bloodthirsty gnats. Jards recommends purchasing repellent. As the team prepares the set, I take one of the cars and drive it to the nearest drugstore. Upon leaving there, Jards suggests that we have coffee at a bakery on Rua Humaitá.

We wait for the waitress to take the order and the daily newspaper, placed on the table, catches Macao's attention. Flipping through the culture pages, he comes across an article announcing the 70th birthday of his friend Jorge Mautner. The party will take place, hours later, at Circo Voador, with a show by Mautner alongside his partner Nelson Jacobina, from the Imperial Orchestra, and the illustrious participation of Gil, Caetano, Melodia and Jards himself, although, to the fury of him, the newspaper does not even mention his name throughout the half-page text.

Macalé folds the tabloid, throws it into the nearest wastebasket and decides to go straight to a controversial issue. I comment that the reunion of him, Gil and Caetano has been awaited for decades – Macalé was distant from Gil and broke up with Caetano since the first half of the 1970s. He comments, between skeptical smiles, the indirect attempts of rapprochement by Caetano, who frequently praises and tells mutual friends that he misses him. He also says he likes Caetano, but he is touchy and reveals that the final straw in his disagreements came when, in a financial argument, after a concert in 1974, he was called a scoundrel by the Bahian. Something unforgivable for him.

Back on the set, with lots of repellent to contain the insects and in less than half an hour, wearing only shorts, barefoot and wielding his guitar, Jards solves the filming of Let's Play That, on his own, satisfied with his performance, in the second take.

Mixing the costumes of Batman and Superman, with a sarong that prints the Brazilian flag dressed as a sarong, Macalé records with the team the video for 'Gotham City' at the pier of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. Photo: Luiza Sigulem

We return to the apartment and the preparations for the second registration of the day begin. the theme is Gotham City and will be recorded in two stages: a walk to the Botanical Garden, characterized as Batman, and a walk, dressed as a Joker, on Saturday, through the narrow streets and crowded with people from the Sahara, the largest popular commerce in Rio.

Wearing boxer shorts, a Superman t-shirt, a sarong with the Brazilian flag acting as a cape and two original items from the bat-man costume – the mask and a wide belt superimposed on the prominent belly – Macalé goes out at streets and sings Capinam's verses, shouting the refrain "Watch out, there's a bat at the main door! Beware, there's a chasm at the main door".

Wherever he goes, he is followed by laughter and amazed looks from neighbors and shopkeepers who recognize and greet him.

We take the way back and a priceless scene is recorded, Jards parks at the pedestrian light next to a military policeman who looks at him indiscreetly, from head to toe. With unshakable seriousness, he looks at the man, nods his head, waits for him to advance along the banner and comments, surreptitiously: “We defend order here!”.

We ended the exhausting day by going straight to Circo Voador to celebrate Mautner's 70th birthday. Luckily – and with the equipment still in the cars – the team is allowed into the dressing rooms and ends up filming Macalé and Caetano's reunion, recorded by Chico, Gregório and his brother, César.

A long and affectionate hug and the whispered request of “… Let's take it easy, Caetano”, suggest a gradual rapprochement. Anyone who has listened sex – the Bahian’s masterpiece, whose musical direction was uncredited by Jards, a reason that, for decades, alleged as the trigger of the fight – knows how much this rupture of affective ties was also a regrettable low for our music.

Confessions of a Breast Specialist
Entrepreneur of Jards, cultural producer Maria Braga, aunt of actress Alice Braga and sister of Sonia Braga (worshipped as a pin-up tropical by this scribe in his adolescence), hosts us in Niterói, precisely at the actress' house, where she settles during her passages through Brazil. The object of desire of the entire team, Sonia's huge bed is divided into casters and it is there that I wake up from a deep and refreshing sleep.

After the previous day's marathon, Tuesday has a much less strenuous schedule. Back in the bat cave, while the costumes for the afternoon are being prepared, Macalé begins to replace a rectangular pennant fixed to the wall that divides his bedroom from the living room with an illustration with two angels.

When he takes the flag off the wall, a famous black and white photo of Maria Bethânia – very young, bare torso and bare breasts – reveals itself, to everyone's surprise. The image is quickly covered by the illustration of angels. Macalé justifies the presence of the photo on the wall, because, as a good “peitologist” that he is, he must always have that image at hand.

Clarifying better your obsession, when you see a call from Order & Law on TV – one of his favorite series, he defends – he enthusiastically comments that one of the actresses is Jane Mansfield's daughter and attests that, like her mother, she also has a beautiful pair of breasts. However, he points out that Jane is on another level, in the same canon as Anita Ekberg and his friend Caetano's sister, whom he got used to calling “Caio”.

We continue to the center of Rio, at the boarding station for the ferries that lead to Niterói, located at Praça XV. Wearing a white suit and a blue shirt, dressed as a trickster (or Moreira da Silva, his late partner and master), Macalé sings and dances Cantareira Mambo, the 1960 composition, written by Barbosa Silva and Eloide Warthon, which lends the phrase “learn to swim” to the title of his second album, from 1974, an LP on which Jards re-recorded it.

The Barbosa and Eloide mambo mocks the poor crossing service provided by the Carreteiro Group, a fact that culminated in the episode known as the “Boat Revolt” and in the nationalization of the service, with the foundation of the Cantareira Company. A heavy summer rain anticipates the end of the recording and we run to the Botanical Garden.

Gathered in a café on one of the alleys on Rua Humaitá, we listened to Jards proudly say that he was the one who wrote the death note fixed on the door of the bar next door, played decades ago by his great friend Américo, who died less than 15 days ago.

“That illustration of the angels, I took it from here (the image that covered the photo of Bethânia with the naked torso). She kept telling Américo that she would take her home and he would joke: 'Only if it's over my dead body! ”. There, I took it!”

Drinking coffee, Jards stops by the neighboring bar, Rebouças, to greet the waiter and friend Chico. Asked by Gregório, who was at the bar the night before and talked to the boy, if the waiter’s name wasn’t Jorge, Jards fires this one more: “Yes, I know that, but since the first time I called him Chico he replied. There, he became a Chico!”.

The toneless Rio and the average Brazil
In the summer of 1987, an epidemic of dengue and conjunctivitis ravaged Rio de Janeiro. Macalé satirized the issue in the 12-inch compact that brought the priceless track River Without Tom (a parody of Let's go to La Playa, from Menudo) and a reading of Blue suede shoes (the Carl Perkins classic immortalized by Elvis Presley).

If the registration of Blue Suede Shoes, arranged by Lincoln Olivetti, it is impregnated with sambalanço, a Jards characterized by bluesman and singing dragged is who sets the tone in the version filmed this Wednesday afternoon. One of the five cameras was tasked with recording a close-up of his feet marking the beats. Faced with the lack of coordination to cadence them, Jards says: “I can't control my feet. The right is João Gilberto and the left is João Donato”.

Filming ended Blue suede shoes, a coffee break and the reading of a note published on the website of the Brazilian, where I comment on Jards' performance at Mautner's 70th birthday party. Jards reads the text, says, succinctly, that he liked it, and invites me outside for a cigarette, while the crew prepares the room for filming. Weird cry.

“It was just what I needed: after being labeled a damned my whole life, to start being remembered as Chico Buarque’s brother-in-law or the minister’s boyfriend!”

Sitting on one of the benches arranged in the small hallway, he compulsively smokes his cigarette and maintains silence for a few seconds. When he decides to speak, he praises the work of the film crew, "these boys are doing the right thing, they are doing what needs to be done", and says he is tired of the "stupid and backbiting" press.

Justifies, stating that when there was the announcement of the appointment of Ana de Hollanda to the Ministry of Culture, he began to be probed by reporters anxious for confirmation that they were married, boyfriends or something similar. “It was just what I needed: after being labeled a damned my whole life, to start being remembered as Chico’s brother-in-law or the minister’s boyfriend!”

Reserved, he once again evades the subject of “Macao and Ana” and we moved the conversation to expectations about the Dilma government. Pondered, Macalé foresees a continuation of the ex-president Lula's project and shoots: “I even defend that Lula did important things, but if his great achievement was to elevate so many people to the middle class, that scares me. Happy of those who had ascension, but everything that is average is next to what is average and mediocre. This cannot be the only project in the country!”.

Filming is resumed and Macalé stars in an absurd situation. The idea conceived by Chico and Gregório to Weird cry it's a parody of the show Live Wheel, from TV Cultura. In the center of the arena, Macalé is questioned by four other interviewers, all Macalé himself.

Stellar Nudity / A Joker in the Crowd
Exhausted by the filming marathon and also worried about saving energy for the birthday of our friend Luiz Melodia, we found Macalé only two days later. If Wednesday was rest, Friday promises a strenuous grid. Three footage, in four different locations: the bar of the recently deceased Américo and the neighboring bar Rebouças, where it will be recorded hiccups; Praia do Diabo, where the images are made for cheap steam; and Jards' apartment, where a moving version of Hotel of the Stars was registered.

When Gregório proposes to Jards to go shirtless and clarifies that the cameras will be orbiting his body, Macao doesn't hesitate: “Fuck, if that is the case, I'm going to be naked once and for all!”.

Naked, he emerges from the kitchen carrying a St. George's choker in his hand and asks for help to paste the image, which he received from his mother. Amulet of Ogun around his neck, when he starts singing, with his eyes closed, the verses of his friend Duda – Jards' lyricist in the composition that became famous in Gal Costa's voice in Fatal  – appear sublime and cause shivers: “From this window, alone / Looking at the city calms me / Vulgar star wandering / I laugh and I can cry too…".

closed the take, a shocking silence invades the room. After recording two inspired performances by Cheap Steam, in Pedra do Arpoador, and hiccups, at the Rebouças bar, the team concludes that the day was won.

Jards Macalé and the poet Waly Salomão, or rather, Waly Sailormoon. Photo: Personal archive

Saturday morning. The sun rises mercilessly. Jards welcomes us, good-natured, eager to transform himself into the Joker, the villainous enemy of the bat-man, but warns that he will do so when we are in the Sahara, as he does not want to pay such ridiculousness on the streets of the neighborhood.

I observe a photo of him next to Vinicius de Moraes and ask if the guitar he wields is the same one that João Gilberto coveted. Macalé says no, remembers that the photo was taken in 1962 at the poet's house, and insists on narrating the story of buying his first guitar at age 15, traded for bananas with a drunk.

We abandoned the cars in a parking lot near the Sahara. The metamorphosis happens right there. Macalé has thinning hair dyed with a pasty green dye. The mouth, in an enormous and irregular design, impregnated with red lipstick. Sweating profusely, Macao sets out with us on foot to the crowded, narrow streets of the Sahara. We enter the crowd, which moves frantically between the multicolored and noisy alleys.

Music with a popular accent – ​​funk carioca, sertanejo and forró – echoes through all the commercial doors. Sellers advertise offers. Security guards watch it all, lonesome in their 3-foot-tall seats.

Infiltrated in this tropical chaos, Jards bellows the verses of Gotham City, defying the crowd. With the profusion of cameras surrounding him, most Sahara pedestrians seem more stunned at not knowing who that guy surrounded by cameras is than shocked by his deranged figure.

On all the streets you can hear phrases “who is this madman?!”, “what kind of madness is this?!”. The team's lenses invade a religious goods store, where Jards acquires an image of Saint George and doesn't spare shopkeepers the warning of Gotham City: "Watch out, there's a chasm at the main door!".

The tour ends with a visit to a shop specializing in kites that recognizes Macalé as a regular customer. From there, Jards leaves with a new model of Batman in hand and a frozen smile on his face, an expression made even more grotesque by the sweat that drips and, little by little, undoes his makeup. Imperfection that in no way reduces the demonstration of his great satisfaction with the good experiences of that atypical week.

In November, the patriotic bat from Jardim Botânico will fly over the skies of São Paulo and an elementary chapter of this new adventure ends here.

MAIS

Read The Discontented Brilliance of Jards Macalé, review of the artist's first album, published in the column Quintessence

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