The ancestral and sorrowful beating of Minas' drums. Of both African and Moor rings, like the joyful baiano drums, and so many others that ring around the country. But rang from deep in the opulent insides of the motherland of the Golden Cycle. And radiated throughout the hills, in the up-and-down movement through slopes in country-side parties.

With a title extracted from one of Milton's record's tracks, launched last May by WEA, Tambores de Minas (Minas' Drums) marks the encounter of two living cultural heritages of Minas: Milton Nascimento and Gabriel Villela.

Born from the bordeline cities of Tres Pontas and Carmo do Rio Claro, south of Minas Gerais, musician and scene director search in the primitive drummings, heard in the streets of the Alterosas since immemorial times, the will power to, in two acts and twenty songs, dive deep into the folklore of the land where they were bred.

Punctuated by the dry beats of rhythms such as that of the congo from the Congados, the Reisadosm, Montes Claros's catopê, or even the cateretê from the Pirapora river's stand owners - put together and recreated by Lincon Cheib by the time Nascimento was recorded - , Tambores de Minas evokes the popular and religious parties that celebrate Jesus Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection.

A great countryside altar serves as ambience for the rereading of Christian rites by Gabriel's baroque genious. Covered in 700 meters of ivory and sand tones, with lamperkijns adorning the flies, the stage has a central platform, with 4 meters in diameter and 70 centimeters in height, in the shape of the "caixa de folia"(a medium sized drum used in the religious festival of the Three Kings). It is from this gigantic stylized altar that Milton's godlike voice shall make itself heard.

Accompanied by a band of both old and new brethrens (Paulo Guimarães, Túlio Mourão, Robertinho Silva, Kiko Continentino, Lincoln Cheib e Marco Lobo), the "honorary president" of the Corner Club has his generous and gregarious spirit translated in scene by a cast of nine dancer-acrobat-singers, who carry out several tasks: aside from singing all the choir arrangements, they execute brief choreographies created by Vivien Buckup, throw themselves into ground acrobatics and deadly leaps under the command of Fabio Tavares, and last but not least embody and make sound the drums of Minas - skill for which they were personally trained by Robertinho Silva, in his newly open center for alternative percussion, in the carioca neighbourhood of Recreio.

"Ring all alarms
The man I used to be has returned"
("O que Foi Feito de Vera" - Milton Nascimento/Márcio Borges)

The most splendorous of centenary religious parties of Minas, the Corpus Christi procession, serves as inspiration for the solemn and baroque aesthetic of the first act. It is wrapped in black from head to toes that a resurrect Milton Nascimento comes into sight. Blackened version of the monstrance which fosters the body of Christ (the Holy wafer) in the celebration of this rise to the heavens, the costume created by Teca Ficinsky and Gabriel Villela to cover the body of the holy monster of Minas' music shines among live recreations of the work of our greatest baroque artist: the Profets of the statuary of Aleijadinho, represented in the garments of the nine cast members. White shirt, black tie and red cincher, over suits of rustic fabric in tribal prints are worn by the band in the first and second acts, in an allusion to the garment worn by the King of Gongo, in the Congadas of Minas.

Starting with the emblematic O que Foi Feito de Vera, the repertoire of the first act jaunts about the emotional identity of Milton's songwriting. It relives partnerships with Caetano Veloso (Paula e Bebeto) and Chico Buarque (Léo); covers itself in mineira religiosity (Calix Bento, by Tavinho Moura); soars over eternal moments of the duo Nascimento and Brant (Saudades dos Aviões da Panair and Ponta de Areia - this in instrumental version, with Milton playing an eight bass accordion); stops by others' creations (Cavaleiros do Céu, by Stan Jones in Haroldo Barbosa's version; Caçador de Mim, by Sérgio Magrão and Luiz Carlos Sá; and Corsário, by João Bosco and Aldir Blanc); until it finally unwinds in the salty A Sede do Peixe (yet another partnership with Márcio Borges) and the distant Para Lennon e Mc Cartney (by Lô Borges, with lyrics by Márcio and Brant).

"M'lady, I give you my heart
Make me your alter, your praying-mantis"
("Louva-a-Deus" - Milton Nascimento/Fernando Brant)

The mixture of African culture and Catholicism present in Brazilian religion-based popular parties is tainted with loud colors (and drums) in the second act of Tambores de Minas. After directing Maria Bethânia, a baiana music deity, Gabriel Villela is inspired by the Folia de Reis, the party in celebration of the Three Wise Kings's visit paid to the new-born baby Jesus in his manger, and in a very mineiro way, sets on the scene a true pantheon of "Minas's orixás".

Bringing back the spontaneity and the randomness of popular aesthetics, the scene director of Guerra Santa and Rua da Amargura gathers rags of garments and adornments of festivals from the furthest places in the planet (Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, Tibet and Japan) to recreate the mineiro folklore. The richly crafted patchwork sculpted in the costumes mixes together the noble and poor; plastic flowers with pieces of curtain from the Beijing Opera; rarities from antique shops with ribbons, mirrors, whelks and beads.

Amidst the profusion of colors irradiated by the garments of the cast, the supreme entity in the musical terreiro (place where Afro-Brazilian fetichism is practiced) comes to light under an immaculate white, with a costume richly embroided in silver threads. Almost entirely dedicated to Nascimento, the record in which Milton's universal art goes back to its basics, the final act in Tambores de Minas is less solemn and more gushing than the first. Drums, percussion and the nine Caixas de Folia explode now in festive resonation. In mainly percussive compositions, such as Louva-a-Deus for the opening, Janela para o Mundo (Milton e Brant) and Os Tambores de Minas (Milton and Márcio Borges) or in distinguishedly melodic ones such as the anthological San Vicente and Canções e Momentos (both by Milton and Brant). Rouxinol, the poignant chant with which Milton celebrates his fligh of the Phoenix, the mourning of E Agora Rapaz? by Dinho Caninava; Guardanapos de Papel, the exuberant praising to poets made by Uruguayan Léo Masliah and translated to Portuguese by Carlos Sandroni; the ever questioning and tellural Levantados do Chão, a tribute by Milton and Chico Buarque to the "Sem Terra"(a large group of rural laborers who have no lands to call their own and fight and claim the right to use lands that, though owned by third parties, seem misused to them); and the auto-biographical Nos Bailes da Vida (once again Milton and Brant) complete the set list of this concert, which inaugurates a partnership between two masters of the mineiro scene, and, as it had to be, saves, still, untellable surprises.
Text by Angela Almeida

"And beating for the gone
Or beating for the returning
Minas' drums shall ring
Her drums shall never be silenced"
"Os Tambores de Minas" - Milton Nascimento/Márcio Borges