I recently returned from (mostly) northeast Brazil after a month-long vacation visiting music pals and taking in the rich culture, food, music, architecture and history of that area. I landed in Rio de Janeiro where Tom Jobim, in the photo above, was born. He composed many bossa novas including the Girl From Ipanema. In Rio I visited Negadeza,whom I’d met last summer in Seattle when she was a member of the band Forro Quente. Raised in Olinda in the northeast, Nega hails from a line of well-known “coquistas”, or singers who specialize in “COCO”, a call-and-response music with African and Indigenous influences. Nega’s grandmother, Dona Selma, is one of the originators of this tradition, and Nega herself is not only a wonderful singer and composer but a masterful pandeiro player (google Negadeza and listen). After Rio, I travelled north along the coast to historic Olinda near Recife where I spent several weeks enjoying the beaches, local seafood, fruit juices and popsicles (a great antidote to the 90 degree heat), and heard forró, frevo, samba and maracatu. I stayed at the houses of my friends Claudio Rebeca and Guga (also Forro Quente members). Guga is a musician and instrument builder whose hilltop house overlooks a valley with a view of the sea and an impressive cacophony of music wafting from the surrounding neighborhoods. Olinda is a small city with beautiful architecture especially in the hilly older section, and it was here in this “forgotten jewel” that I discovered a slower pace of life that was much to my liking. I took advantage of my coastal location and flew to Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago 350 miles away in the Atlantic Ocean with shores of exceptionally warm, clear water that was perfect for snorkeling and swimming, and I spent six glorious days in this crime free paradise. My Portuguese had improved since my last visit which made a huge difference in getting to know people. You can see more details of my adventure on facebook where I have posted photos and videos.