I recently went to the annual Festa de jongo at the Quilombo São José in Valença, in the interior of the state of Rio de Janeiro. São José is a community of about 200 people of the same ancestral family founded by former slaves 150 or so years ago. The dance and rhythm jongo, was brought from Angola and is considered one of the origins of samba. Clementina de Jesus is from here and there’s lots of folks over 90 years old (so says their blog – it was certainly an all ages event).
In keeping with tradition, the roda de jongo was started by lighting a huge bonfire while the oldest couple from the community took the first dance……and then group after group comes through representing other communities. Here’s a ponto de jongo from the festa recorded on my still digital camera.
There were many different folkloric groups visiting from all over Rio de Janeiro state, as well as groups from São Paulo and Minas Gerais (where jongo can also be found). The group with the white shirts above is the local crew from Quilombo São José and the pink and white group are visitors (like most of the people there).
It was really dusty and hard to take photos with a flash! The festa began in the morning on Saturday and only ended the next morning. Below is the full schedule tacked onto the side of the sound system. Unfortunately, we had a 4 hour drive back to Rio and had to leave on the early side. Next year, I bring a tent and food and more clothes (it was cold!) and cachaça……
You can get the CD from Jongo da Serrinha, a group based in Madureira, Rio de Janeiro here. Still jongo, but lots of elements of samba, more urban sounding and well recorded. Aside from some guy I ran across on soulseek who had a bunch of unlabeled 96 kbps mp3s of “jongo do quilombo são josé…faixa 1, faixa 2, etc.,” (and who disconnected almost immediately) I haven’t found any recordings from quilombo São José.
Below are 2 documentaries (each in 3 parts) on jongo do quilombo São josé. The first has an interesting breakdown of the drum patterns and the lyrical content, while the second is more focused on jongo, the dance. Highly recommended!