This album is a fully acoustic, introspective voyage into the world’s greatest Rainforest, featuring 12-string guitar, mandolin, zither, tabla, flute and self-made percussion instruments.
Carioca is the term used to describe those who originate from Rio de Janeiro. But, in fact, there’s only one Carioca in the music scene in Brazil: Ronaldo Leite de Freitas, who took up this nickname in São Paulo after relocating from his native Rio de Janeiro to study music at University.
Recorded in 1980, Mistérios da Amazônia is also, at least to our knowledge, one of the first crowd-funding initiatives in the Brazilian music scene. Carioca, lacking the resources to pay for the studio and manufacturing fees, sold the album to fans, friends and independent record stores before having recorded it.
Carioca’s first work is a fascinating one of a kind album, certainly difficult to classify. Often compared to the path set by musicians such as Egberto Gismonti or Naná Vasconcelos, who were always seeking new musical expressions whilst retaining a Brazilian character.
In spite of what the music might suggest, Carioca hadn’t yet experimented with the introspective power of the Amazon’s sacred root, the Ayahuasca — he would have his first life-changing experience in 1987. “All of a sudden, it all made sense. In 1987 I finally lived what I had recorded seven years earlier”, in his own words. Drawing inspiration from the folklore of the Amazon and Brazil’s north eastern regions, the six self-penned compositions that form the album shape an introspective voyage into the Amazon — a part of Brazilian culture that Carioca had researched but not yet lived first-hand. Percussionist Sérgio Otanazetra, who had also moved to São Paulo from Bahia in order to pursue a career in music, played several percussion instruments (some of which he had built himself) and provided a solid knowledge of folkloric regional traditions. Zé Nazário, a prominent percussionist who had already played with some of Brazil’s biggest artists, such as Hermeto Pascoal or Milton Nascimento, joined the recording of Mistérios da Amazônia playing Tabla.