I went to a school where Shrove Tuesday was marked with an odd ceremony called The Greaze. The head cook tossed a super thick pancake over a bar which stretched across the school assembly hall, and a representative from each class waited underneath to fight for the largest share. One year our class won it through someone who was soon to become well known, Gordon Waller. Gordon together with Peter Asher had a number one hit, World Without Love, written by Lennon / McCartney, about three years after he won The Greaze.
But it is the Brazilians who do it best, and the Mardi Gras Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the world’s biggest party. A riot of colour, noise and music, and held together by the unceasing and unceasingly changing rhythms of the samba. A heaving ocean of sound.
Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova compositions, based on the samba, and popularised in the US by Stan Getz, Joao and Astrud Gilberto, still haunt the popular imagination. Their dreamy arrangements are very different from the flamboyance of the Carnival, but they too are interwoven with the samba beat. My personal favourite is One Note Samba. It uses the idea that one is not only the first number, but the undivided one that precedes all number. Repetition becomes sincerity becomes love. Wonderful! Here follows my own small tribute to the vitality of Brazil. Let us hope the full brilliance of the festival returns in 2022, after its cancellation in 2021.
CARNIVAL (Remembering Tom Jobim’s One Note Samba) now a crimson note is sounding petal falling through the breeze remembrance of a single plucked note - other notes will swiftly follow dancers touch and sway together steady themselves against the one note - passionate energetic couples spinning in each other's orbit electric through the hours past midnight caressing as the dawn approaches leave the dance still slowly dancing night and day poured into one note - essence of the unending samba love distilled in just one note