Dominguinhos – Programa MPB Especial, February 8, 1974 (Repost)

“A música brasileira deste século por seus autores e intérpretes”
SESC São Paulo / JCB Produções Artisticas

Recorded for the Programa MPB Especial on February 8, 1974, directed by Fernando Faro

Dominguinhos – sanfona de oito baixos
José Braz dos Santos – zabumba
Domingos P. Neres – triângulo


 This is a repost from 2010.  Dominguinhos’ health has been failing for some time now.  Send him some good vibes and give a listen to this amazing interview-performance. March, 2013 – F.

Some years ago the SESC organization of São Paulo released a number of boxsets of interviews and music with musicians and composers. This disc is from the second boxset (the discs themselves are not numbered or in any way chronological). Only a fraction of the stuff filmed for this series has found its way onto DVD, such as Nara Leão, Cartola (very recently), or Elis Regina. If you’ve seen those then you know the format — a little bit of playing, a little bit of talking, some more playing, very relaxed. In fact one curious production technique is that you never (or at least I haven’t yet) hear the actual questions being posed to the artists. This used to really annoy me. Now I see it as some of form of editorial self-erasure, an attempt to efface the interviewer’s subjective presence and keep the focus on the artists. In that sense the technique is mildly admirable. But there are still times when I knew what the hell they had been asking about..

But in this case, Dominguinhos, who is as relaxed and good-natured in an interview as you might expect from his music, tells us a little about growing up in Garanhuns, Pernambuco, his father being a small farmer (pequeno agricultor, not “small” like Azulão) who also worked as a tuner of sanfonas de 8 baixos (eight-button accordions) and playing in the feiras where so much business gets conducted in the interior. He tells of meeting as a young boy with the master Luiz Gonazaga, who would become his mentor and protector throughout this life.


We then get something of a musical travelogue of his life, with him playing some of the different types of music he played to get by when living in Rio – samba, música romantica, boleros, show tunes. Songs by Tom Jobim, Johnny Alf, Jack Lawrence. We even get a short snipped of chansón with “La vie em Rose” immortalized by Edith Piaf. It’s not as if Domiguinhos is alone in knowing this repertoire as it was more or less required of working musicians, but as he demonstrates in this casual setting it is not hard to imagine that his emotive capacity to connect with whatever material he plays is at least part of how he grew to be such a sought-after session player, apart from his association with Gonzagão. This TV program was filmed as Dominguinhos was ‘hot stuff’ with the post-tropicalia scene, having both recorded on my ex-girlfriend’s album “India” (1973) and also touring in her live presentation of it. I may be partial because I am still in love with Gal Costa after all these years in spite of her breaking my heart, but I really think the India tour performance should see a legit DVD release (there is a bootleg pimping itself out over at YouTube…), because I would rather go blind from stroking myself than from squinting my eyes at a blurry image *while* stroking myself, damnit. Anyway, if the only thing Dominguinhos ever did in his entire career was to play on that album, he would still deserve top props from me. But he was also working on Gilberto Gil’s ‘Refavela’ album which would yield one of the most beautiful songs either man would write, “Lamento Sertanejo (Forró de Dominguinhos.” But he opens the show with his most famous and instantly-recognizable song “Eu só quero um Xodó,” which is a staple in the forró song book now, both pé de serra and electric… I had always thought it was co-written with Gilberto Gil because of its appearance on the latter’s “Cidade de Salvador” album (underrated and rather hard to track down, unfortunately), and because the melody seems so obviously GIL to me.. But it’s not, its Dominguinhos and Anastácia. There is however, the Gil/Dominginhos collaboration “Abri a porta” later on, and the fantastic song written with Chico Buarque “Tantas Palavras.” There is even a song he co-authored with his nine year-old daughter Liv titled “Vários caminhos.” And it’s amazing.


I think this box has something like 13 discs in it and a book which transcribes all the interviews and has some commentary by the likes of Tarik de Souza and Sergio Cabral who worked on the SESC project. They are all pretty consistently good but this one is really special and definitely my personal favorite. It’s recorded with the sparseness and simplicity that really brings out the best in Dominguinhos without the frills of (over)production, and to hear him play some of these tunes *entirely* by himself (by which I mean, with the zabumba and triangle players sitting them out in the corner) is a privilege, like having him come by to your house and play for you on your veranda on a crisp autumn evening. Some of the other volumes in the SESC boxes seem to be made from second or third generation back-up tapes or transferred off the video reels, whereas this one has incredibly detailed and warm sound. And, of course, he has some anecdotes peppered between the songs that prove how any good sanfoneiro is also a good storyteller. He ends the show appropriately enough with an homage to his mentor, Luiz Gonzaga, and shows us why is truly the only one worthy of being Gonzaga’s successor and ‘filho postiço’.


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Swamp Dogg – Rat On! (1971)


Swamp Dogg
Rat On!
Original release 1971 Elektra (EKS-74089)
Reissue 2013, Alive Naturalsound Records (0142-2)

Do You Believe     2:50
Predicament #2     3:07
Remember I Said Tomorrow     2:41
Creeping Away     2:51
Got To Get A Message To You     4:08
God Bless America     3:34
I Kissed Your Face     3:51
That Ain’t My Wife     3:15
She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye     3:05
Do Our Thing Together     4:07

Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone – Sonny Royal
Bass, Percussion – Robert Popwell
Drums – Jasper Guarino
Flugelhorn, Trumpet – Mike Stough, Stacy Goss
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Jesse Carr
Producer, and arranged by Jerry Williams, Jr
Piano, Vocals, Performer [Everything Else Of Any Importance] – Jerry Williams, Jr

Engineer – David Johnson
Photography By [Back Cover] – Siegfried Halus
Photography By [Cover] – Willis Hogans, Jr.*

Recorded At – Quinvy Recording Studio, Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Remastered (very well) by Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters

I don’t see what the big deal is about the album cover.  Apparently it frequently makes the top of ‘worst album covers’ lists, but I can think of far worse.  In fact I think it’s a thing of beauty, down to the awful pun (for the non-native English speakers, the title is a pun on how the phrase “right on” might sound pronounced in a black US southern drawl).  It could reasonably be argued that such a silly cover does a disservice to the high quality of music inside.  But it is definitely eye-catching, and leaves you with handful of pertinent questions — what? why? who? and again WHY? – none of which will really be answered after listening.

You see, Swamp Dogg is the artistic monicker of one Jerry Williams, who had been writing and intermittently recording as Little Jerry since the 1950s with little fanfare.  I had no idea there was something of a Swamp Dogg revival going on at the same time that I had been searching for clean copies of the original vinyl for his first few releases.  I scored the third album, “Cuffed, Collared, and Tagged”and had planned to share it here, but even though it was sealed New-Old-Stock vinyl it had a really obnoxious defect where the entire second side has sounds like someone crunching a potato chip with every rotation of the album.  So I was damned delighted to find out that his first three albums (at least) are being reissued.  And listen up closely when I say this, because you know I don’t say it often about reissues – The remastering of this record is REALLY NICE, a nice warm analog glow that keeps all the dynamics.  Bravo.

As with all revivals of between-the-cracks music there are apparently articles springing up in places like Mojo magazine.  Now I have nothing against Mojo, they have some excellent writers working there, I just don’t have time for them.  I don’t mean that dismissively but *literally* – for now and for the foreseeable near future I just do not have the luxury to read music journalism, no matter how engaging.  It’s all I can do to catch up on the stacks of LPs collecting dust here and occasionally shoot off a blog post when I can rub one out.

So while I am sure there are some cool articles out there and that they help fill in the back story of this fascinating, mercurial artist – who is still around and wrote the notes for these reissues – I prefer to focus on just what I am hearing.  And when my eyes passed some press blurbs and quickly glossed over, seeing comparisons to everyone from Sly Stone to Frank Zappa, or calling him “psychedelic soul,” I decided I would just ignore all of that for the time being, digest the music and write about why I find it so intriguing.  Because while phrases like “psychedelic soul” make for good journalistic shorthand (and probably help sell a few units to a niche market), it doesn’t tell us much.  Listen, Baby Huey was psychedelic soul.  Swamp Dogg was just, well, Swamp Dogg.

The convenient and – I hope – more useful analogy that comes to my mind is Eugene McDaniels.  Both had backgrounds in straight-up traditional soul music (obviously Gene Daniels had much more success at it).  It is not difficult to understand how with bizarre album titles like “Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse” or “Total Destruction Of Your Mind,” potential audiences would be at turns put off or alienated, contemporaneous critics would fail to take them seriously or notice them all, and their creative work would occupy those in-between-spaces where so much unmarketable music dwells.  Both of them donned iconoclastic masks for their own records where they could comfortably let loose their creativity with seemingly no concern for generating hummable hits, while both men were also perfectly capable of operating as professionals.  McDaniels was writing successful songs for Roberta Flack around the same time he was making his own unique records; Swamp Dogg produced Z.Z. Hill, Arthur Conley, Doris Duke, Irma Thomas, and wrote a hit song for Johnny Paycheck with his friend Gary “U.S.” Bonds.

Swamp Dogg / Jerry Williams is, when you get down to it, just good deep southern soul music.   A lot of fun and with a lot more going on than meets the ear.  A balanced mix of mid-tempo groovers and ballads that are sometimes disarmingly poignant.   I’ve seen his stuff tagged as ‘country soul’ and that is a great descriptor, reflecting not only the stuff he heard on the radio growing up but also that the color line was first crossed in recording studios before the civil rights era even got moving, and that the decade of the sixties saw so much productive intermingling between those too genres.  His eclecticism, his off-kilter, sardonic sense of humor, and his occasional raunchiness – Cuffed, Collared and Tagged has a track that consists almost entirely of an orgasm (simulated, I hope) over a riotous funk groove, and then of course there are these infamous album covers.  He was able to be both “out there” and “earthy” at the same time.  Maybe this is what the British mean when they say someone is “a bit bent.”  You can take a song like “Predicament #2” and laugh it off as a humorous anecdote about infidelity, but it is also kind of deep, almost a philosophical reflection on the constraints of monogamy and a person’s ability to love more than one person simultaneously.  At least, that would have been a convenient way to describe it to his partner(s) at the time.  It’s like a less maudlin David Crosby’s “Triad” for soul music.  And of course the typically male double standard rears it’s head when we come around to “That Ain’t My Wife,” but I’m not overly concerned with philosophical consistency here.   The bus-riding protagonist of “Creeping Away”  is also a loveable tramp, when he tells us “I got my bread in North Carolina, and my butter in Tennessee.”  Safado.

From sexual to racial politics to American imperialist war-making, the record was probably too all over the place for most casual fans of soul and too “identifiably black” for crossover success in what had become an increasingly polarized and segregated music industry in post-riots, early 70s America. “Remember I Said Tomorrow” is just plain brilliant, and just as relevant now as it ever was.

Tomorrow we’re gonna pass a law that’ll make everything all right
With equal opportunity for everybody, whether they’re black or they’re white
Tomorrow we’re going to bring the boys home, the end of the war is on its way
Tomorrow you’ll even have freedom of speech, just be careful of the things you say
Didn’t I promise your forefathers they’ll be an end to pain and sorrow
Well then shake off those fears and wipe away those tears
And remember that I said tomorrow.

(In fact I think this song could have been played at Barack Obama’s second inauguration ceremony.)

Swamp Dogg could also lay on some heavy emotional vibes.  “I Kissed Your Face” is an irresistibly pretty and poetic soul ballad with delicate sax runs from Sonny Royal, proving that Williams could “play it straight” with the best of them.  Which brings me to his impeccable choice in handpicking cover tunes, which I think is in some ways a key to Swamp Dogg’s musical  weltanschauung.  Much like the old phrase “he/she is a musician’s musician,” well these tunes are “a songwriter’s songs,” ones that somebody personally familiar with the craft can appreciate in their totality.  The Bee Gee’s “Got To Get A Message To You,” sung from the point of view of a death row prisoner in his final hours, lopes along in a stately, elegiac build-up decorated by lush harmonies (overdubbed by Dogg himself, as far as I can tell).  Then there is an entry from the catalog of that genius of Nashville, Mickey Newbury, with “She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye.”  This is the real deal, people.  You probably didn’t expect this from a man riding a giant rat on the album’s cover, but he embodies these down-on-your-luck narratives with genuine pathos.  To be able to look in these dark places and evoke a feeling without relying on sentimentality or other gimmicks is the essence of the best soul and country music, which must be why he sounds completely at home in these songs.  That gentle darkness continued in his next record, which starts with the amazing John Prine song “Sam Stone” and ends with “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” by Joe South.  Dude sure knew how to pick ’em.

I mention all of these before getting around to the massive “God Bless America For What” because they help understand where he’s coming from.  A superficial encounter with this song, still years away from the end of Vietnam, probably would have inflamed the passions of many who heard only an anthem for anti-patriotism.  It’s a small wonder that he didn’t end up like Gene McDaniels with Spiro Agnew tapping his telephone; once again, the giant rat rodeo on the front cover might have persuaded the authorities there was nothing up the sleeve to be taken seriously.  But they would have been wrong, all of them.  The lyrics are defiant and angry but also simple and frankly compassionate – a little over halfway through the tune, the band grooves on a slow vamp as Dogg goes into a spoken passage urging us not to say anything at all in response or rebuttal, but to stop and think about it a little, let it sink in, do some soul searching about where we’ve been and where we’re going.  Ain’t nothing unpatriotic about that.   At the end of the day, Swamp Dogg’s America is a place I wouldn’t mind living in.

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Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker – The Carnegie Hall Concert Vol. 1 (1975)

Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker
The Carnegie Hall Concert – Volume 1
CTI Records 1975 (6054 S1)

A1         Line For Lyons     8:17
A2         (Song) For An Unfinished Woman     8:53
B1         My Funny Valentine        8:38
B2         Song For Strayhorn    9:35

Recorded At – Carnegie Hall
Distributed By – Motown Record Corporation
Design – Bob Ciano
Liner Notes – Doug Ramsey
Producer – Creed Taylor
Remix – Rudy Van Gelder
Photography  – Carl Roodman

Bass – Ron Carter (tracks: A1 to B2)
Drums – Harvey Mason (tracks: A1 to B2)
Electric Piano – Bob James (tracks: A1, A2, B2)
Engineer – Dave Hewitt, John Venable
Guitar – John Scofield (tracks: A1 to B1)
Percussion – Dave Samuels (tracks: A2 to B2)
Piano – Bob James (tracks: B1)
Saxophone – Gerry Mulligan (tracks: A1 to B2)
Trumpet – Chet Baker (tracks: A1, B1)
Vibraphone – Dave Samuels (tracks: A1, A2)
Written-By – Gerry Mulligan (tracks: A1, A2, B2), Rodgers & Hart (tracks: B1)

Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply, cork ringmat); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; Click Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

Two of the giants of West Coast jazz were brought together again for the high profile concert documented here.  While ostensibly given equal billing on the marquee, this is really Mulligan’s show, who wrote all the material here except for My Funny Valentine and whose playing is top-notch throughout.  Gerry Mulligan went through a career comeback of sorts in the early 70s, putting out fantastic records like Age of Steam, while Chet Baker on the other hand, well… was pretty into smack at this point.  He is barely even there on most of this record.  He plays well enough I guess, when he plays at all, but mostly he’s just phoning it in.   Mulligan more than picks up the slack, however, and these guys in the CTI stable are no slouches.  While the band still has the shimmering gloss common to all CTI material, it is refreshing to hear these guys outside of the funk-lite context of majority of those records and know they can play “straight” bop and cool jazz when needed.  Harvey Mason plays with a subtlety I didn’t think he had in him, while Bob James lays down the velvet carpet of electric piano texture you would expect from him.  John Scofield’s performance depends on what you think of John Scofield: he’s never done much for me personally but his presence here is innocuous.  This ‘new’ batch of West Coast session vets may not lend the same immediacy to Mulligan and Baker that they had in their Pacific Jazz heyday, but it’s a satisfying listen nonetheless.  Oddly enough after years and years of owning this LP, I only recently picked up Volume 2 at a local shop, dirt cheap.  It needs to be cleaned and hasn’t even been listened to yet, so I’m not sure if it is in good enough shape to justify a blog post.  But stumbling on it reminded me that I did this needledrop last year, at least.

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Ronnie Von – A Misteriosa Luta Do Reino de Parasempre Contra O Império de Nuncamais (1969)

Ronnie Von
“A Misteriosa Luta Do Reino de Parasempre Contra O Império de Nuncamais”
Original release Polydor (Brasil) LPNG 44.037, 1969
This reissue 2006 Discos Mariposa, Argentina

1- De como meu herói Flash Gordon irá levar-me de volta a Alfa do Centauro, meu verdadeiro lar
2- Dindí
3- Pare de sonhar com estrelas distantes
4- Onde foi “Morning Girl”
5- My cherie amour
6- Atlântida “Atlantis”
7- Por quem sonha Ana Maria?
8- Mares de areia
9- Regina e o mar
10- Foi bom
11- Rose Ann
12- Comecei uma brincadeira “I started a joke”

13. Meu Bem
14. O Pequeno Príncipe
15. Meu Mundo Parou
16. Paraíso


Here’s some more  pós-jovem guarda psychedelia  (or is it psychejovem guardelia-iê-iê?)  from former teen-idol and past and present TV star and show host Ronnie
Von!  Pretty heady stuff for such a heart-throb: the title translates as “The Mysterious Struggle of the Kingdom of Forever Against the Empire of Nevermore.” And this record was made before that North American whats-her-name made absurdly long and silly album titles trendy!   Of his three psych albums from the late 60s-early-70s, this only narrowly loses out to the third one as my favorite.  Mostly because it has one too many ‘cover songs’ of contemporary hits on it.  In particular, the rather odd choice of My Cherie Amor just doesn’t fit.  A Brazilian-Portuguese version of Donovan’s “Atantlis” is a campy highlight though, and his version of Jobim’s “Dindi” is just plain great.  I like his version of The Bee
Gee’s “I Started A Joke” even  if I prefer the original.  It’s got a very fuzzy guitar and everyone is accenting the down stroke (even the piano player!), giving the tune an unexpected headiness (or is it heaviness?) and it makes  a good closer for the album.  (Everything after that track consists of bonus cuts).

This record is best when it’s at its most psychedelic, which also happens to include most of the tunes co-written by Ronnie.  The opening cut is great, so is “Pare de
sonhar com as estrelas distantes”, features a sound collage bridge very much inspired by the Fab Four.  Von first got his start in music by way of a friendship with a group called The Brazilian Beatles and appeared on their TV show in 1965 singing “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” so it is only natural that his sound followed the instincts of their idols.  Although this kind of stuff was vociforously attacted by the reactionaries of the day as being an agent of imperialism and a “mass culture” threat, Von’s music isn’t nearly as derivative as all that.  He doesn’t attempt to ape Beatle-esque harmonies, and the approach to arrangements has its fair share of blue-eyed soul (or is it green-eyed soul?) and is just as inspired by contemporaneous Roberto Carlos.  In other words, he might have been heavily inspired by The Beatles – along with, um, pretty much everyone else recording pop music in 1969 – but there was far more derivative stuff being produced by pop and psych-pop contemporaries in the anglophone world.  There is quite a bit of originality here, and if I were to complain it would be that the record doesn’t have enough of Von’s own compositions.  He fixes that on his next record, however.

The track “Rose Ann” manages to squeeze English, Portuguese, and French into the same tune, briefly breaking down into an accordion-driven bit of chanson.  There’s some very nice vibraphone on this too.    Ronnie was really gifted at doing spoken parts in between his sung vocals.  I would like to hear him read an entire audio-book.  What great works of literature should we suggest to his agent?  Please leave your suggests in the comment suggestion.  Meanwhile, “You’re love will be, like summer to me.”

One of favorite tunes on the album is “Regina e o Mar,” which has a perfect blend of a groovy bass line and rhythm guitar, loose drums, creative string arrangements, Ronnie’s soulful vocal, and just the right amount of tape delay.  This tune is followed by an unexpected and equally groovy tune penned by Benedito da Paula, which adds horns to the previous winning combination.  No tape delay, though.  Oh well, it’s good to be sparing with it anyway.

Tagged at the end are some bonus tracks, including yet another cover (The Beatles’ “Girl”), which if the liner notes here are correct he managed to record without crediting them,  and Ronnie’s signature hit tune, “O Pequeno Principe”.  “Girl” / “Meu Bem” has a pretty wicked tremolo-surf guitar part.

This release on Mariposa Records (Argentina) is a needle-drop, and not a particularly good one, but it gets the job done.  Since my birthday is coming up soon, feel free to send me original vinyl copies as a gift.  Thanks!

Oh and I almost forgot – the bilingual booklet is a wonderful example of what happens when you use Google Translate to convert Brazilian Portuguese to English.  Fun!!

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