Watch the faces on the floor sometime
while the Samba is being danced. You will
see more smiles on the faces than in any of the other modern dances. You will
see less boredom and apathy also and less concern for whether the steps are
being danced correctly. For this is one of the few dances of true abandon.
Somehow nothing seems to matter while one is dancing the Samba.
A fairly recent arrival in Europe, the Samba originated in
Brazil quite a few years
ago and it continues to be a favourite there, though it is generally played with a
slower tempo than dancers here are used to. Your true Brazilian will usually dance
it with the palm of his left hand placed flat against the right hand of his partner but
this part of the tradition is a nicety not regarded as essential by people in other
Both France and America have perfected their own
variations on the fundamental
Samba steps, while in England the main emphasis is on the basic bouncing and
rocking rhythm. So joyful is the Samba that even our prim manuals of ballroom
instruction will tell you that during this dance "the arm of the gentleman may be
placed a little further round the lady."
With a steady 2/4 tempo played at a speed of around 60
bars to the minute, the
rhythm of the Samba lags only a little way behind the quick march and its music
very often has the same rousing effect. As the melody picks out the lively swing of
the body, an agitated rhythm accompaniment is kept up by all those rattly and
scratchy implements that are so necessary to the Latin-American orchestra.
When Edmundo Ros is wielding the baton we can be sure that
all the more joyous
aspects of the Samba will be brought out to the full and when he himself sings the
vocal the dancers are very likely to join in with him. One thing we can be sure of -
he will not be content just to let his orchestra mark the beat but will provide the
Samba with a range of fully orchestrated and tuneful music as good for listening as
it is for dancing.
The music of Edmundo Ros has now become so much of a
British institution that it
is hard to believe he has only been in this country since 1937 and that those
records of his, now an indispensable part of almost any household, were none of
them put on the wax until quite recently.
At the time when Edmundo Ros first arrived upon these
Latin-American music was almost entirely unknown in this country. For its
widespread popularity today he himself is responsible more than any other single
person. It is thanks to him also that we can now listen to the genuine article
instead of having to be satisfied with an emasculated and bloodless imitation. For,
indeed, he came to us with the very best possible background for the task he
had to undertake.
Born in Caracas, Venezeula, Edmundo Ros grew up to study
the law, keeping his
strong musical interests for the livening of his leisure hours. His enthusiasm for this
learned subject has never waned and he is still to be found reading law books
from time to time, often in the most incongruous situations. But fortunately for us
his early studies had to be abandoned because of declining family fortunes.
Faced with this set-back his next move was
to join the Venezuelan Military
Academy where he quickly secured a position in the brass band. Making music his
chief occupation from that time onwards, he pursued his musical vocation after
leaving the army and his next step forward was an appointment as timpanist in the
Venezula Symphony Orchestra.
His orchestral training and experience therefore covered a
wide range of music
both popular and classical and, in addition to this he had made a special study of
the music of his own region, not only of Venezuela but of the whole of South
America and stretching across the Caribbean to the West Indies. Yet upon his
arrival in England, in fulfilment of a lifelong ambition, he at first found it difficult
get a job.
The first engagement that came his way was one as drummer
in a conventional
swing orchestra at The Nest. It was to this nightclub that the great "Fats"
at that time making his notable European tour, would come along to relax after
making his stage appearance. As the evening progressed very often "Fats" would
start to play informally at the piano and the orchestra, standing down in his favour,
would leave just Edmundo to provide a rhythm accompaniment. It was through these
friendly encounters that Edmundo came to be chosen to play in the European
orchestra with which "Fats" recorded such numbers as "A-Tisket,
In 1938 when the very first Latin-American group was
formed in this country,
Edmundo Ros became its deputy leader. His London debut with his own orchestra
came in 1940. It was a moment to which he had been looking forward through many
long years. There followed a number of happy years of night club playing (including
a long association with the Bagatelle) and of building up steadily that famous library of
Edmundo Ros recordings. The rest of the story is well known to everyone, for Mr.
Ross is now achieving ever greater popularity both in his new capacity as proprietor
of the New Coconut Grove, where his orchestra now plays regularly, and through
his many appearances on radio and television.