Conjunto A Voz do Morro – Roda de Samba (1965) {Paulinho da Viola, Elton Medeiros, Zé Keti, Nelson Sargento…}

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“RODA DE SAMBA”
– CONJUNTO ‘A VOZ DO MORRO’
Jair Costa / Anescar do Salgueiro / Zé Kéti / Nelson Sargento / Elton Medeiros / Paulinho da Viola / José da Cruz

Released 1965 Musidisc Hi-Fi 2114
CD issue Musidisc 777.6099

This is a massive album – historically vital to the history of samba, an amazing and compelling listen; a group made up of “heavy hitters” in samba, and one of the earliest recordings of Paulinho da Viola, who sounds as refined and confident as he would ten years later. Oddly enough, as far as I know the only time it was issued on CD thus far is this Musidisc pressing done by Sonopress Brasil in 1995 (if I am reading the code correctly). The sound quality is as top notch as the music.

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This recording has been reissued on vinyl throughout the 70’s with a different cover and credited to Paulinho da Viola (or at least, `Paulinho da Viola and Conjunto Voz de Morro`), which is obviously a way of cashing in on his celebrity status at that time. But in the mid-1960s, Viola was the up and coming youngster of this bunch. Names like Zé Keti, Elton Medeiros, Jair Costa, and Nelson Sargento would have been more familiar to the samba afficionado in ’65. But Paulinho is featured prominently — in the group photo, in the number of songs he sings lead on, and in the listing of his name first in the list on the cover. So this may have been an attempt to give his career a push.. I don’t know, I am an ignorant gringo, and it’s quite likely that a music journalist like Sergio Cabral has written about this album and explained the story and I should probably do my homework and find out more about it.

The compositions are all first-rate. You might notice the tune Elton Medeiros co-wrote with Cartola, one of many that Cartola never recorded himself. There are so many classic tunes here I feel silly trying to single anything out. But Anescarzinho`s “Intriga” and “Vai saudade” leap out at me, as does Mascarada from Zé Keti and Elton Medeiros. Zé Keti’s “Maria”, with Jair Costa on lead voice, is two minutes of perfect samba, with great leave-me-alone ‘dis’ chorus (Saia de meu caminho, eu não te quero mais/aonde eu vou/ Maria vai atrás). Paulinho’s “Coração vulgar” and “Jurar com lágrimas” are both stand-out tunes in his decades-long repertoire of memorable compositions, already demonstrating his special way of writing complex, long melodies and weaving them in a way that sounds deceptively simple. And it is nice to hear him sing in the context of this strong chorus of vocalists providing harmonies, counterpoint, and the whole package. The instruments are all recorded in pristine quality, mixed extremely well, and (of course) played with finesse. I am hoping my friend J.Thyme likes this album but he might be dismayed to know it is sans cuíca. It’s Cuíca-Free. Cuícaless.

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