Brazil:  Amazon and Salvador da Bahia, July 2009
Bonfim, Amazing Chorinho Music from Grupo Z.J.A.P.
Page 9 of 17


One of Bahia's most important festivals takes place here at Igreja Bonfim, where Candomblé priestesses lead the festivities together with Catholic priests. Bonfim is the church of Oxala, the king of the orishas, whose name refers to spiritual purity and light, and thus their most important church.

We walked across to the Bonfim store across the street and saw these... well as Igreja do Bonfim shot glasses, something that the Catholic Church in the United States might frown upon.  But here in Salvador, people served alcohol on the beach, at lunch, everywhere, to relax and be social, but never did we see drunkenness or disturbances as a result.  But in the United States, we lived in a country that had Prohibition and were often more conservative.

Bonfim had numerous charming colonial-era buildings, including this at the Cultural Space of Bonfim.

And although not certain how this was actually a cultural space, we did try another delicious dish, carne de sol.  Carne de sol, Portuguese for "sun beef", is a popular dish in northeastern Brazil.  It consists of heavily salted beef, which historically was set out in the sun for one or two days to cure, although this is no longer done.   This was served with Bahia-style beans (black-eyed peas), rice, salsa, fries, and farofa, essentially manioc wheat from the cassava.

Returning from Bonfim, we went up the Elevador Laserda, a super-large elevator that transports people from the lower city to the upper city of the Pelourinho.  And although modern today, the Portuguese used slaves and mules to transport goods from the port to the upper city in times past.

We headed down Rua Chile to Boteca Do Dy, a local restaurant where Grupo Z.J.A.P. were performing, not far from the Praça da Sé bus stop, based on a recommendation from Bahia Online, a fantastic resource of culture, food and music created by Cana Brava record store owner Randy.

Grupo Z.J.A.P plays a form of samba called chorinho ("little cry" or "little lament"), also known as choro.  And despite the name, it's an upbeat, lively form of music, a sort of urban samba Brazilian singer Aquiles Rique Reis described as ”classical music played with bare feet and callus on the hands.”  Note the seven-string guitar, which this gentleman played with great virtuosity, also holding down the bass lines.

Grupo Z.J.A.P. plays Boteca do Dy Restaurante every Friday evening from 6-10pm.  It's a popular local scene, and a warm friendly environment.  And between that and the band, this was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip.

I marveled at the virtuosity of Paulinho, playing a tambourine known as the pandeiro.  The skin can be tuned, and the platinelas, or metal jingles, are cupped and have considerably less ring and sustain than Western tambourines.

Paulinho played with great precision and groove, frequently playing rhythms by alternating the thumb, fingertips, heel, and palm of the hand.  It was immediately clear that we were witnessing a master percussionist.

The mandolinist and drummer of Grupo Z.J.A.P. at Boteca do Dy.

Boteca do Dy on Rua Chile in the Pelourinho, a friendly local hang-out.

Samba dancing at Boteca do Dy in the Pelourinho.

This group of locals came over to us and asked where we were from.  Upon finding out we were from Los Angeles, they asked, "Do you like The Doors?"  My affirmative answer was greeted with a huge smile.  "Do you like Red Hot Chili Peppers?"  Yes!  Even bigger smiles.

I loved this place so much that I returned the following Friday.  And the same group of people were there, happy to see me, happy to be there.  If I lived here, I would come here as often as possible.  Great music, great people, great vibe, great prices.

Master percussionist Paulinho displays his sophisticated rhythms.

Mid-set, a peanut vendor wandered over to our table.  Paulinho continued playing, but signaled that he'd love to have some peanuts.  I smiled It was my pleasure.  But I then realized that his band was, quite literally, playing for peanuts.

Jiló, the drummer for Grupo Z.J.A.P., enjoys a caipirinha break between sets.

The amazing chorinho samba band Grupo Z.J.A.P.
Video shot by Lisa Kelly on Friday 10 July 2009


Brazil:  Amazon and Salvador da Bahia, July 2009
Page 9 of


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