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This was the first of many strange pieces of Graffiti that I felt was worthy of a picture.  I’m starting to feel more comfortable here, in the sense that not everything I see makes me feel like I need a picture so I won’t forget it.  I’ve never really been one for taking pictures or trying to be in them.  I’ve never kept a blog either, or a journal for that matter…so I don’t really know what to write.  Suggestions are welcome.

There have been lots of drums and dancing in the last few days.  Carnaval has a very unique energy that is exuded by everyone you see out on the street at night.  Most people that I meet speak little or no english, so my Portuguese is coming along.  The few people that I meet that do speak English have little interest in speaking Portuguese with me, which after two days in São Paulo for Carnaval, is quite a relief.  There is something very comforting about being able to speak your native language.  I’m excited when I speak in Portuguese and can get my ideas across, but I am truly relieved and at home when someone talks to me in English, no matter how bad the grammar is.

I’ve been here for two weeks and I still haven’t had a class.  They should be starting next week, but I bet some of them won’t even start until the week after.  My Brazilian phone is pretty much only good for sending texts.  There might be a way to make phone calls, but if there is it’s eluding me.  Until I figure it out, I can continue to enjoy the liberating lack of a constant vibration in my pocket.

Lots of things have happened, lots of parties, lots of dancing and new friends, so it’s a little overwhelming to try to write about it all, so I’ll just pick one night that I particularly enjoyed:  The Canja.

Here in Barão Geraldo, Canjas, or jam sessions, occur three times a week.  We’ve only been to one so far, but I’d like to say to all my jazz friends that the dark and brooding vibe of the east coast has not found a home here in Brazil.  The fun-loving, communal spirit of jazz is alive and well here.  This jam session had some of the baddest players I’ve ever heard in my life, particularly bassists and drummers.  To my surprise I was actually asked to lead off the Canja, because they couldn’t find a bass player at first, meaning that all these great players came up to play my bass.  Now that I know what it can sound like, I’m never selling it.  Unlike the jam sessions in Cincinnati that are populated almost exclusively by musicians, this canja drew a crowd of about a hundred people, most of whom were there just to watch.  It was supposed to start at nine I think, but it was closer to ten-thirty.  The first hour or so was all jazz, played mostly by myself, Mauki, Max, and Joe.  To my great surprise, the players here have a pretty good understanding of swing, including common chord substitutions, tags, and intros.  After about an hour of playing and feeling pretty good about it, a guy came up to ask to sit in…And that was it.  For the next three hours, all I could do was watch.  I was in awe of the talent.  They played everything from samba to swing, even Donna Lee at 280 with everyone playing the head including the bassist (who also happened to shred on guitar that night as well).  I did eventually play again at the very end, during the longest samba/partido alto groove jam I’ve ever seen.  It was easily forty minutes, with players switching out the whole time.  The best thing about the whole experience was that even when younger inexperienced players went up, everyone was very encouraging and positive.  All in all a great experience.

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