Ricardo Bezerra was my host father when I first came to Fortaleza as an exchange student to study Portuguese. Ricardo, a practicing landscape architect and professor, is also a composer. In 1978, he released his first album, Maraponga, featuring Brazilian musical heavyweights like jazz legend Hermeto Pascoal and singers Raimundo Fagner and Amelinha. His song “Cavalo Ferro” became a huge hit, one that musicians still record and perform today (there’s a recent version on iTunes if you’re curious). Fagner and Amelinha and a few other musicians from the state of Ceará came to be known as the Pesssoal do Ceará, the folks from Ceará, and they helped bring Ricardo’s music to a wider Brazilian audience.
In 2003, Ricardo released his second album, Notas de Viagens, and is now working on a new CD. His most recent music is instrumental, and much of it combines jazz with northeastern Brazilian traditional music. He and I met up to talk about his new project. We chatted about the search for the Cearense sound and the ways musicians can express regional identity through music. Check out the clip to hear him talk about the ways he’s given his music the sound of Ceará and to hear one of his new songs from his upcoming album.