" Why does it work…? Because there is a master key: Africa! "
( Dom Oliveira )
Gumbo is one of the most popular dishes of the Creole cuisine of New Orleans. The name derives from an African (Bantu) word for okra, a vegetable often used in a traditional gumbo. Though certain ingredients (such as the stock) are essential, a gumbo comes in all varieties. Practically anything tasty and eatable might find its way into the gumbo. People from New Orleans are proud of their gumbo mixture, as they are proud of the mixture of races and cultures and the blend of different styles of music which their city is famous for.
Rio, like New Orleans, was a melting-pot of ehnic groups: Africans, Portuguese, French, Germans, Indigenous, and many more. And the music that came out of Rio and comes out of Rio, is a product of this ongoing historic process of amalgamation. The people from Rio have all of this in mind when they proudly say: “Eu sou Carioca !” (I am from Rio).
After having played, lived and studied New Orleans music for 40 years of their lives the Creole Clarinets fell in love with Brazilian music. They began trying to play choro and samba. And without wanting to, they automatically did that with a New Orleans feel. When Thomas first started playing in Rio he was referred to as “O alemão de Nova Orleans”, the German from New Orleans. The task was clear: Trying to grasp more and more of the musical language of Brazil without giving up the “New Orleans identity”.
During his extended stays in Rio Thomas met the Trio Perigoso, young Brazilian musicians playing choro. He befriended them and studied with them. While listening to music together suddenly an idea was born: We have been playing your Brazilian music with a New Orleans touch. How about trying to play some of the New Orleans music with the flavour and the groove of Rio de Janeiro? How about…a gumbo carioca?
These first rehearsals were amazing. The young Brazilians had never heard of Jelly Roll Morten, Sydney Bechet or Kid Ory, and only little of Louis Armstrong. And there they were playing that music in their own way. And enjoying every minute of it!
Since the summer of 2014 the outstanding singer and Denise Gordon has joined the project. The participation of the English vocalist with Carribean roots is a great asset to the music and the performances and an unexpected further artistic and personal inspiration for the project.
“Gumbo Carioca” is the result of an on-going process in the witches' kitchen of music, a gumbo with ingredients from two musical cultures. With a lot of love and fun added.