Sunday, April 09, 2017

Music + Film Brazil: Andre Midani—An Insider’s Story of Brazilian Music

André Midani throws amazing dinner parties, but apparently, that’s what you get when you know everyone who is anyone in Brazilian music. Over a number of casual get-togethers, Midani tells anecdotes from his career as a record executive in between laidback performances from his famous friends in the feature documentary cut of Andrucha Waddington & Mini Kerti’s miniseries, André Midani—An Insider’s Story of Brazilian Music (trailer here), which screens as part of the Music + Film Brazil film series at Symphony Space.

Midani was originally a Jewish Syrian who came to Brazil via an extremely circuitous route. As it happens, Brazil was not his intended destination, but he liked it so much during a stopover, he decided to stay. We can’t really blame him for not knowing Portuguese under the circumstances, but it made finding a job difficult. Yet, somehow, he was able to talk his way into a meeting with the president of Odeon Records and the rest is music history.

When we say Midani has famous friends, we are not kidding around here. Those you will hear laughing and playing at Midani’s comfortable home include Caetano Velsoso, Gilberto Gil, Erasmo Carlos, Marisa Monte, Jorge Ben (Jor), Marcos Valle, Roberto Menescal, and Carlos Lyra. In addition, a small army of Brazilian rock stars who haven’t crossed over to the extent their Bossa Nova, Tropicalia, and MPB colleagues have also duly pay homage to Midani. Plus, we see some archival footage of artists Midani nurtured, but sadly are no longer with us, such as Nara Leão.

There is some great music here, particularly the jams featuring Jorge Ben Jor, Monte, and Gil. The latter is a near constant in the film, appearing with just about every informal ensemble. Fittingly, he gets to take the out chorus, performing a poignant solo rendition of “Não Tenho Medo da Morte.”

In a way, Insider’s Story is good way to sum up the Music + Film Brazil series, because it connects all the various styles and subjects of the previous films (yes, Tim Maia is in here too). The Midani doc is just a pleasure to spend time with, because it is so relaxed, yet filled with joie de vivre, much like This is Bossa Nova, hosted by Lyra and Menescal. The fact that so many artists worked with Midani, ranging from Tom Jobim to Os Mutantes, is pretty darn impressive, but he seems pretty grounded for a guy who can have a former Minister of Culture come play at his house whenever he wants. Highly recommended for fans of Brazilian music, in all its many varieties, André Midani—An Insider’s Story of Brazilian Music screens tomorrow night (4/10) as the Music + Film Brazil film series continues at Symphony Space.