Archives for posts with tag: 1960s

Building `gallery` shopping centres in the European style was championed in São Paulo from the early 1960s, during the initial `verticalisation` of the city, by Italian architect Ermanno Siffredi.  Others followed suit, and the character of these elegant buildings still holds sway in São Paulo Centro. São Paulo already had a considerable and elegant built heritage.


Foyer of the São Pãulo Teatro Municipal opera house. Ramos de Azevedo, 1911.

But the shopping gallery projects did not import materials and craftsmen and women wholesale from Europe, as did the Teatro (1903 – 1911) and the Gothic Revival Catedral da Sé (1913 – 1954). The galleries were not stone but ferro-concrete constructions, and some designs were the outcome of architectural competitions. With striking results.


Façade of Grandes Galerias, Avenida São João 439, São Paulo. Siffredi & Bardelli, 1962

Boldly modern in its sweep and style, the Shopping Center Grandes Galerias nonetheless combines curves and straight lines to good effect, just as the eclectic Art Nouveau Teatro does. The Grandes Galerias were designed by the Italian practice of Ermanno Siffredi and Maria Bardelli, business and personal partners. Since their qualifications were not recognised in Brazil, they were not always named as architects. Brazilian Alfredo Mathias also had a hand in the design – he went on to design the Portal residential complex in Morumbi.

Their effects are achieved with simple devices – linear placement of ordinary light fittings, pale curved facade floors which draw the eye away from the darker faceted standard plate glass windows, the safe yet open galleries which invite a casual shopper to linger on the railing and enjoy the view. And there are more visual delights inside.


A vantage point for vigilant security

The curves of the façade are carried through into the arcade walk in both horizontal and in ascending vertical planes. The wooden battens  – a favoured decorative element in Brazil – of the façade shop fronts wrap around the mezzanine, spacious despite the intrusive fire system piping.


Each floor has a distinct pattern for its tiled floor. The demands of commercial advertising may intrude – what IS that on the underside of the elevator ? – and the character of the design may or may not be strong enough to overcome them.


A visual Babel

The lifts are a case in point. The floor tiles, and the dark facings and stainless steel doors interpolated in the curve of wooden battens, are matched in colour, and contrasted in form. But the ceramic mural of shoppers and their consumer durables above is somewhat lost in the noise of the commercial environment. Let’s take a closer look.

20190417_180544 (2)

Fashionable furnishing at its height

Decorative ceramics, household furniture, light fittings and wall coverings are all advertised in a rather more subtle way than today’s retail items. Today the building is known as the Galeria do Rock, and sells skater fashions, T-shirts, tattoos and sports goods, and serves as a commercial music venue for tribute bands. Urban sub-cultures thrive here.


Sloping access to lower ground floor, original lettering

What we see here under the commercial noise and frankly, the startling poverty of São Paulo Centro today, is the elegance and the real optimism of an earlier age. Today Avenida São João is inhabited by the urban poor and small retailers.


The facade on Avenida São João from the inside looking out

Hard to believe that in 1978, Brazilian music star Caetano Veloso wrote a song to honour São Paulo – “Sampa” – which has the corner of Avenida São João and Ipiranga at its heart, where Bar Brahma was “a favorite of intellectuals, musicians & politicians in the ’50s & ’60s, with beer, snacks & music”, if Google Maps is to be believed.



Modernist composition, ground floor, looking up

Under the glitz and the grinding poverty, the architecture of the Shopping Center Grandes Galerias is a fading though glamorous echo of that time.

One of the Three Kings of electric blues guitar – with BB and Albert – and also a great blues singer, Freddie King based his guitar style on Texas and Chicago influences.

Born in small-town Texas, he moved to Chicago with his family at 15, hearing Chicago blues played in the South Side clubs. One night he bet his friends that not only would he sneak into the club, he would sit in with the house band and play his box guitar. Freddie won the bet.

Realizing how young Freddie was, the club owner ordered the bouncers to escort him out. Howlin’ Wolf intervened, telling him “The kid is with me”. Howlin’ told Freddie “Young man, you pick that guitar like a old soul.” … “The Lord sure enough put you here to play the blues.” Howlin’ took Freddie under his wing, and taught him how to take care of himself on the streets of Chicago.

The instrumental Hideaway, recorded in 1960 with pianist Sonny Thompson, reached number 5 on the R&B Charts and number 29 on the Pop Singles Charts the following year, unprecedented for a blues instrumental. The title comes from Mel’s Hide Away Lounge, a popular West Side blues club. Freddie sold more albums during this period (1961-63) than any other blues artist, including B.B. King.

Freddie King was repeatedly rejected in auditions for South Side’s Chess Records, the premier blues label, because he ‘sang too much like B.B. King’. He would later say that the Chess rejection was a blessing in disguise, because it forced him to develop his own vocal style.

King and Thompson recorded some thirty instrumentals in the early and mid-60s. Vocal tracks were also recorded, but often the instrumentals were marketed on their own merits. King toured with the R&B acts of the day such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and James Brown.

Signed by player-producers King Curtis and Leon Russell, and playing alongside Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton, King often created guitar parts with vocal nuances.The years after 1970 were marked by a shift to a harder, rock-like style. He also largely quit performing new material, simply covering songs from other blues musicians.

King was in the habit of consuming Bloody Marys in lieu of solid food so as not to waste time when setting up shows. Near-constant touring took its toll – he was on the road almost 300 days of the year. In 1976 he began suffering stomach ulcers. His health quickly deteriorated and he died of complications, and acute pancreatitis, at the age of 42.

Here’s a 1962 vocal track on the boundary between soul and blues, written by the guitarist and singer from UK blues band Chicken Shack, Stan Webb. Look Ma, I’m Cryin’

And this is an inventive instrumental by King and Thompson from 1961. ­­San-Ho-Zay

%d bloggers like this: