So, one of my go to bands for a lazy afternoon is Los Indios Tabajaras. They entered my record collection years ago by chance, just browsing used records and the bright red album cover of Always in My Heart caught my eye. It would be a few days before I wound up playing it for the first time, but it immediately became a favorite. Filled with instrumentals, it’s easy to put on in the background behind a meal, or while curled up with a book on the couch. Need a bit of spice to slow down or add a dash of class to a mix, look no further.
After all these years I realized that I didn’t really know anything about them, and so took a moment this weekend to educate myself, and thought I’d pass along a bite sized version of what I found out concerning their mysterious origins.
Los Indios Tabajaras is made up of two brothers from Northeast Brazil, Natalicio and Antenor Lima. After a chance encounter with some Brazilian soldiers in 1932, their tribe wound up leaving their land and traveling roughly 3,000 miles over the course of four years to arrive in Rio de Janeiro. It was during that journey that they encountered a guitar for the first time, and taught themselves how to use it, first as a percussive instrument, then learning to strum it.
In Rio de Janeiro, the brothers would busk for change, eventually playing small clubs to earn what they could. Apparently a viewing of “A Song to Remember” during the 1940s would stoke a lifelong love of classical music. This new direction would further define the sound most know them for. The New York Times article below has an interesting bit about how Natalicio went so far as to build a guitar with 26 frets, instead of 19, and also setup Antenor’s to have one string much thicker so that together they were able to cover the same range as a piano.
They continued to hone their craft and toured internationally for a few years, eventually signing a record deal. Their blend of tribal songs from their heritage and journeys, juxtaposed with their unique portrayal of classical music performed acoustically would define their sound for the rest of their lives.
First Album: Temura (1953)
Biggest Hits: María Elena, Always in My Heart, Marta
Number of albums: 25+
Sources and additional information:
New York Times article from 1981:
Bear Family Records – Don Gibson & Los Indios Tabajaras LP