Carlos Alberto "Katchas" Martins - Broda (Funana pioneer and Bulimundo mentor, 1977)

(DMC 111-101).

One aspect I could not guess when I begun Muzzicaltrips blog, is the number of people around the world it would lead me to meet or to exchange with.  Today's post comes from one of theses interesting exchanges, as it's a contribution from Norway, proposed by Olav Aalberg, great connoisseur of music from Cabo Verde:

Capeverdean independence in 1975 spurred an explosion on the musical scene in this little country.
Mostly known for Cesara Evora´s soft, unsentimental, but melancholic music, the newly won freedom from Portugal, made young musicians look towards their African roots.
Composed of a unique blend of European and Africans since the late 1400s, Cape Verde, was a place where musical roots can be traced to three continents. However, none of the known recordings until the independence showed any trace of the most African rooted styles.

Carlos Alberto “Katchas” Martins was one of the founders of the new musical era. He brought with him modern electronic equipment from his stay in Paris and Lisbon. Gradually, the plan emerged to play old music with new instruments. Thus he, and eventually a score of followers, brought funana from the villages on to the cities´ stages.

Working as an agrarian engineer on the most African of all the nine islands, Santiago, Katchas suddenly had time and opportunity to play music, and listen to the best performers of batuku, funana and other rural musical styles that until now had been ignored by people in the towns.
It is difficult to see much of a direct political program in Katchas´ work, but the idea of reviving the most African music was in itself a political statement. In a country that had always been a Portuguese colony (no one apparently inhabited the islands before they came), everything African was derided by the upper classes.

Funana – a word whose origin is still debated, is a musical style that evolved with the arrival of the accordion, or gaita, as it came to be called. Diatonal, lightweight and cheap, it was the church´s effort to bring something similar to an organ to the difficult to reach villages and towns of Cape Verde in the early 1900s. The people wasted no time, and quickly included the gaita into their parties. Along with an iron rod (ferro or ferrinho) and a scrape (knife, spoon, whatever) to keep the rhythm – funana was born.

Katchas replaced the gaita and ferrinho or ferro (iron) with the synthesizer, guitars and drums. Kodé di Dona, Nhã Nacia Gomi, Ntoni denti d´Oro, Bitori Nha Bibinha, Sema Lopi, to name a few, provided the material that he later came to use with enormous success with the band Bulimundo (a name taken from the town hall of Pedra Badejo, a town on the east coast, were the band´s members originated, but that also a from a rural myth – Bulimundo meaning “the mover of the world”). 

Before all this, Katchas tried out his ideas in “Broda” (Brother), an LP that never made much of a mark. There are a couple of interesting tunes though, as they clearly are inspired by the musical traditions of the Santiago hinterland.

Sadly, though, we more often than not, find that the original composers, though still very much alive, saw their compositions quoted as being “popular” – meaning old, without a known composer. Several of the above mentioned musicians later complained about this.
The LP Broda was recorded in Paris (?) probably in spring 1977, as Katchas arrived in Cape Verde in summer that year.

I think this is an interesting glimpse into what later became the most influential band in Cape Verde, Bulimundo, and the new funana, that once again fusioned African, American and European music into a mesmerizing blend.  Katchas´ legacy is still felt in the extremely rich musical scene of Cape Verde.

Here, you can listen to Forti trabadja pa alguem (Lots of work for someone), an early version of the new funana, still tainted by the coladera that dominated the Capeverdean scene in the 60s and 70s, but clearly moving in the right direction.

Olav Aalberg for Muzzicaltrips.

Katchas - Forti Trabadjo Pa Alguem :

Jopio : bass
Catcha's : guitar, vocals
Cecilio : rhythm guitar
Rui Da Casimiro : drums
Vicente : keyboard
Papa : vocals