Samba is Brazil’s national rhythm and a defining part of Brazilian national identity, woven into 100 years of Brazilian song. It came to life not far from the Rio de Janeiro recording studios where Miguel de León spent the better part of August, busy creating The Malandro Project.
Just as it did more than a century ago the urban neighborhood called Estácio sits on the hills overlooking the location of Samba’s birth: a small park called Praça Onze (Park Eleven) and the nearby home of an African/Brazilian matriarch, Tia Ciata. Born in the state of Bahia, she began to organize weekend get-togethers for ex-slaves and immigrants from the northeast, and word soon spread that these casual parties were the place to be. And be heard. Musicians came to play: Pioneers like Donga, Pixinguinha, Sinhô and Joôo da Baiana drew on the musical cultures of Africa, Bahia and Rio to shape the early sound of Samba.
Samba’s First Hit
‘Pelo Telefone’ (On The Phone) was written and then recorded in 1917. Its lyrics included the line “The chief of fun told me on the telephone to dance with joy.” And so they did, in the narrow, winding streets of Estácio, where the roots of Samba were being distilled in neighborhood bars by many of the musicians who frequented Tia Ciata’s parties. Fortified with cachaça rum and beer, and away from the direct influence of Praça Onze, the locals spent long nights transforming Samba into the style we know today, forever separating it from its origins.
The Malandro Project
Legend has it that Samba’s first Malandro was there, too: The fun-loving bad boy of Samba, dedicated to a lifestyle of idleness, con games and fast living. But life was not always a bed of roses for the Malandro.
Miguel de León and his songwriting partner Luciano Antonio have crafted a bouquet of original songs - and enlisted the creativity of Brazil’s legendary Chico Buarque for two more - to bring the Malandro’s story to life in Portuguese and Spanish.
We’ll share more about Brazil’s iconic Malandro and what it was that inspired Miguel de León to record The Malandro Project in the city of Samba’s birth next time.