Postcard from Brazil
Friday 09 June 1995
To partake of the full Olodum experience you need to nip over to Salvador da Bahia, the former colonial capital of Brazil, and stroll through the cobbled alleys and damp blackened pastel walls of the old colonial district of Pelourinho. Down the Rua Gregorio do Matos and past the reggae bar, is the Casa do Olodum, where the crashing drum rhythms and mass chorus from the dancing, sweating crowd in the yard can be discerned over the babble and boom of Pelourinho's seething merry-makers and sound systems. Olodum is inseparable from Pelourinho, which was a crumbling dangerous slum in the late Seventies, when the drum troupe and carnival "Afro Bloco" was formed as part of the city's black cultural revival. The district is now a booming cleaned-up but still deeply funky nightlife magnet and Olodum is a thriving amalgam of cultural institution, youth club, school, business, carnival block and pop group. In its latter capacity, the basic drums and vocals augmented - redundantly in fact, so strong is the original sound - by brass, guitars and keyboards, Olodum's eighth album has spawned a huge hit single "Cartao Postal", the lyric sheet for which will doubtless be cyclo-styled as usual for audience singalong purposes by Olodum director Joao Jorge in between visits to the British Museum to research next year's carnival costumes.
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