Celebrating Brazil’s Independence in Style

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It’s been a summer filled with an unusually diverse array of Brazilian music, from performances by Ivan Lins and Gilberto Gil to a festival of local artists at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, and a Grammy Award (earlier in the year) for Antonio Carlos Jobim.

So there’s a certain appropriateness that Saturday’s Brazilian Independence Day has triggered a flurry of September programs guaranteed to delight fans of this infinitely vibrant musical culture.

The most consistently entertaining event takes place at 9:30 tonight at the Century Club in Century City, when dancer-singer Christiane Callil opens a new season with her tropical revue “The Girls From Ipanema.”


The show features Callil and eight dancers, colorfully garbed in a dazzling collection of costumes, performing what can best be described as a kind of contemporary version of the widely praised but more traditionally oriented “Oba, Oba” Brazilian theatrical program. Working with a minimal budget, Callil has created a smooth, beautifully choreographed production that combines the lush music and sensual dances of Brazil with the high energy of MTV.

Among the many numbers in the fast-paced presentation are a group of vigorous, no-holds-barred sambas and an animated impression (complete with fruit salad headdress) of Carmen Miranda.

Callil, who brings her show back to town after a tour of Japan and appearances with Aretha Franklin in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, is particularly pleased to be opening on the weekend of Brazilian Independence Day.


“It’s funny,” she says. “When I first came here, I didn’t want to have anything to do with Brazil, and I forgot all about Independence Day. But since I’ve had this show, and since I’ve been presenting Brazilian music and dance to other parts of the world, and I see how other people react to it, it’s brought me back in touch with Brazilian culture. So tonight’s going to be a big celebration.”

Callil returns to the Century Club Sept. 20 and continues every other Friday thereafter. Information: (310) 553-6000.

Saturday night at the Ford Amphitheatre there is yet another Brazilian Independence Day celebration. The event is headlined by singer-songwriter Geraldo Azevedo, a native of Pernambuco and one of the important figures in the wave of music that emerged from northeastern Brazil in the ‘70s. Information: (818) 566-1111.


Another significant event is Wednesday’s American Airlines Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl program, “A Night in Brazil.” Headlining the performance is the veteran singer Djavan, one of Brazil’s most popular artists throughout the ‘80s. Also on the bill, the lesser-known but extraordinarily charismatic singer-guitarist Joao Bosco, and the always entertaining, L.A.-based Brazilian guitarist-composer-producer Oscar Castro-Neves. Information: (213) 850-2000.

And later in the month, the gifted Brazilian sister and brother team of Nana and Dori Caymmi make a rare appearance at the House of Blues, Sept. 23. Information: (213) 650-1451.

On Record: The third volume in “Sacred Ceremonies, Ritual Music of Tibetan Buddhism” (Celestial Harmonies) is strictly for the receptive, imaginative listener. This is meditation music that reaches beyond repetitious, monotonic sounds. But a little deep breathing, concentration and focus on the music can make hearing the chants and the instrumental performances of the monks of the Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery an enlightening experience.

“Coolangubra” (Celestial Harmonies) is a self-titled album from an Australian group that manages to mix a wide variety of traditional instruments--bolon (African bush bass), kubing (Filipino jaw harp) and didgeridoo--with textures and rhythms ranging from jazz to bluegrass. A remarkable synthesis by an appealing ensemble.

Dan Lacksman, co-creator and producer of the group Deep Forest, attempts a further link between traditional musics and the electronic recording studio with “Pangea” (Elektra). The project is named after the theory that suggests that the Earth’s continents were once joined in a single entity--”Pangea,” or “all earth.” It blends an enormous assortment of musical samples, many from Africa, with studio-generated rhythms. Although the combinations are sometimes intriguing, more often the fascinating qualities of the traditional music samples are overwhelmed by pulsating, dance-styled patterns of percussion.

Sounds Around Town: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan brings his qawwali singing back to the House of Blues, Sept. 17. . . . The Afro-Cuban salsa of Johnny Polanco y Conjunto Amistad can be heard at LunaPark on Saturday night at 8:30. . . . Willie and Lobo’s rich, personalized take on flamenco music shows up at the same venue Sept. 18. . . . The third annual Hollywood Salsa & Latin Jazz Festival, featuring the dynamic Celia Cruz, rolls into the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 28.