Carmen Miranda, for Caymmi (1914-2008)

Well, I wanted to make a tribute to Dorival Caymmi, the tower of Brazilian song who passed away yesterday in Rio at 94 years of age. But until I have time to do vinyl rips, I found I had nothing to share that isn’t available over at Loronix, where you will also find a very nice post remembering Caymmi with some wonderful quotations from notables who have been deeply affected and influenced by the man and his music.

Instead I’ve chosen a different approach by posting some music I think he would have liked to listen to along with us, from a woman who was very important to putting his career in the spotlight early on – Carmen Miranda. This is a collection of her recordings from 1930 to 1945, and while it doesn’t feature any of Caymmi’s music it does feature songs from his colleague Ary Barroso as well as titles from Luiz Peixoto, Andre Filho, and Assis Valente. Highly recommended for understanding why Carmen was a huge star in Brazil before Hollywood got hold of her.

CARMEN MIRANDA
Carmen Miranda (1930-1945)
Released on Harlequin Records, 1997

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1 Iaiá, Ioiô 3:10 José Barros
2 Pra Você Gostar de Mim (Taí) 3:20
3 Quero Ver Você Chorar 3:19
4 Dona Balbina 2:57 (José Barros)
5 Cuidado Hein! 2:42 (Andre Filho)
6 Malandro 2:37 (Andre Filho)
7 Moleque Indigesto 3:00 (Lamartine Babo)
8 Um Pouquinho… 3:29
9 Na Batucada da Vida 3:43 (Ary Barroso, Luís Peixoto )
10 Mamãe Não Quer 2:06
11 Elogio da Raça 3:18 (Assis Valente)
12 Pra Quem Sabe Dar Valor 2:58 (Assis Valente)
13 Amor! Amor! 3:03
14 Eu Quero Casar Com Você 2:08 (Andre Filho)
15 Minha Deusa Partiu 2:49 (Ary Barroso)
16 Balance
17 Minha Terra Tem Palmeiras 2:30
18 Boneca de Piche 3:20 (Ary Barroso)
19 Salada Mista 3:15 (Ary Barroso)
20 A Pensão da Dona Stella 2:57 (Oswaldo Santiago, Paulo Barbosa)
21 Cuidado Com a Gaita Do Ary 2:41 (Oswaldo Santiago, Paulo Barbosa)
22 Voltei Pro Morro 2:52
23 Tico-Tico No Fubá 2:36 (Luís Peixoto)

One can immediately feel the difference between this and Harlequin’s earlier release The Brazilian Recordings. The CD kicks off with a type of syncopated pop jazz whose most Brazilian element is the language. This might disappoint some, but it’s good pop jazz. The lion’s share of this CD comes from the period before Carmen joined forces with Bando da Lua, the excellent band who joined her when she went to the US. That is not to say that this album is all pop jazz material. Within a few tracks, it’s firmly in uniquely Brazilian territory. By virtue of it being earlier material, one can hear different instrumentation than when Carmen was performing with Bando da Lua. Some feature jazz band orchestra, some small Brazilian combo of guitar, flute and percussion, others a hybrid of popular jazz band instruments and a Brazilian batucada section. Brazil has long been a font of such syncretism and it’s immensely enjoyable as exemplified in the tracks on this collection. One of the more curious tracks is “Minha deusa partiu.” Carmen cannot be obviously heard in this song but it swings, even sporting a Mills Brothers-like bit of instrument imitation. One wishes for more details about the actual recording session and side artists, but perhaps records don’t exist for this. With the explosion of interest in all Brazilian music from bossa nova to tropicalismo, it’s time to examine the undeserved reputation of Carmen Miranda as a sellout and let the recordings speak for themselves. ~ Megan Lynch, All Music Guide

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