|Ernie Watts with Gilberto Gil
(c) 1991 CTI Records
Afoxé (pronounced ah-fo-SHAY), much like the music Ernie Watts, Gilberto Gil and their friends have created here and in Brazil itself, is the sum of striking contradictions.
In Bahia, the vast coastal state known as the heartland of African culture in Brazil contemporary secular version of sacred Afo-Brazilian candomblé hymns are called afoxés. (The ritualistic candomblé sect is the product of an innovative blending of Catholic tradition and the beliefs of the secretive African religious societies.) The procession of musicians and singers who bring the candomblé message to the streets of Salvador every year during carnaval is itself known as an afoxé. And so are the drums, Brazil's answer to the Cuban conga. Even a popular percussion instrument today as much at home in high school band rooms in the U.S. Midwest as it is in the winding back alleys of Salvador's historic Pelourinho neighborhood, has taken the name afoxé.