Musical direction by Oscar Castro Neves
with Roberto Nascimento on guitar, Ico Castro Neves on string bass, Carlos Guimarães on flute, and Francisco Araújo on drums. Vocal chorus comprised of Ângela Menezes, Maísa Sant’Anna, Sônio Márcia Perrone, and Roberto Quartin Pinto.
Released 1966 on Forma. Recorded by R. Cardoso, produced by Gebara/Quartin.
2013 reissue remastered by Luigi Hoffer and Carlos Savalla
So, I recently got my hands on the new Nara Leão boxset. I have been working my way through it slowly, savoring it, and it is a lot of stuff. I’ve decided to share some of the less common offerings first. Last week we had the record 5 Na Bossa with Edu Lobo and Tamba Trio. These week brings something probably more obscure. Some records are obscure for a good reason. This is one of them. It would be hard to find a more tedious piece of heavy-handed mid-60s “engaged” material than this. All that is missing is a rousing rendition of “L’Internationale” or at least “Kumbaya.”
The Brazilian theater and MPB have long had a symbiotic relationship. Some day I might try to research and write a book about it. For now, suffice it to say that in general theater people rub me the wrong way. Maybe it was the mockery I received in that script-writing class I once took as a teenager, leaving me predisposed to dislike theatre people for the rest of my life. This isn’t to say that I can’t appreciate a well done performance or the merits of a particular dramaturg or actor. I just don’t want to end up at the cast party afterwards.
This stage play features Paulo Autran, who I am sure was a very nice fellow. I have nothing against him. A veteran of Shakespeare and Brecht, he at least tries to bring the pathos of both to this production that is very much a product of its times. A couple of years after starring in this play, Autran would feature in Glauber Rocha’s amazing film Terra Em Transe. Scripted and directed by Flávio Rangel and Millôr Fernandes, “Liberdade, Liberdade” is historically important for being one of the first examples of ‘protest theatre’ in Brazil when it debuted in 1965, a year after the military coup but with the worst yet to come. In fact by the time this record came out in ’66 it was prohibited to perform it on stage. A great deal of the play is a patchwork of excerpts from such global freethinkers as Socrates, Martin Luther King, and Jesus. Subtlety is not its strong suit. I am not going to attempt a critical appraisal on whether the play succeeds or fails at its aims, how so or in what measures, because ultimately the whole thing is just very dull. Even the attempts at humor fail to actually lighten things up and seem kind of pedantic. The songs included amidst the lefty soap boxing are rarely played or sung for more than a single verse and chorus. So unlike Nara Leão’s similar hybrid of theatre and ‘música engajada’, the “Show Opinão”, this one just doesn’t hold up well to multiple listens. It doesn’t help things that for the CD edition, no attempt to index tracks was made, meaning we have one continuous audio track of 48 minutes. So forget just trying to find the musical snippets. This is all a bigger shame because there are some killer compositions strewn about from the likes of Noel Rosa, Baden Powell, Vinicius, Caymmi, Billy Blanco, Carlos Lyra and others. The music seems to have been performed off-mic too and comes out rather muffled. (One odd technical note, the album jacket – at least the one featured on the reissue – lists this as a mono recording but it is actually in stereo, albeit mostly just occasional hard panning.)
If you are dying to hear Nara Leão sing in English or can’t wait for Brazilian interpretations of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen,” then this album tem sua cara, you need look no further. Actually the (partial) rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime” is pretty cool.
If you are researching that tumultuous period between the military coup of March 31, 1964 and the implementation of the AI-5 (Institutional Act Number 5) in ’67, this record will probably be of great interest to you. If you are tuning in to hear the inimitable Nara Leão, it will likely be a footnote.
In response to Le Porc Rouge’s question about the label Forma (below in the comments section, where everyone should stop in for a visit now and then), I attempted to answer in the comments but failed due to size constraints. I have updated this post with the following information. My response, written as a comment directly to him:
Porco, I didn’t really know anything about the label either, other than that the amazing Moacir Santos’ “Coisas” is stupidly rare in Brazil even on CD. But I did some searching for you and found a decent succinct write-up and what appears to be a nearly complete discography. I took the liberdade of doing a quick free translation .. Hell if I had more of these titles, one of us should start a discog.page with credit to this guy. His blog post is HERE. The head honcho Roberto Quartin also has an entry at the Dicionário Cravo Albin which is probably the best online resource for Brazilian music in general. But this guy Rodrigo’s post is more succinct (it’s too bad he didn’t keep blogging). Here it goes:
someone proposes to study the album covers of Brazilian music from the decade
of the 1960s, they prefer to talk about the label Elenco of Aloysio de
Oliveira, and forget about Forma. Both
record labels played an important part in the modernization of Brazilian music,
and were acquired by Phonogram (later Polygram, today Universal) in the
created in 1963 by a young carioca named Roberto Quartin (1943-2004) in
parternship with Wadi Gebara. Until
1969, the label released more than twenty albums, some of which became historic
for the highly experimental level of their production and the attention to
technical detail on the records. It was
also responsible for debuting albums by great talents in our music, like
Quarteto Em Cy, Eumir Deodato, and Victor Assis Brasil.
of February 1965, the newspaper Folha de São Paulo published the following
At the end
of 1964, a new recording company started up in Brazil with the objective to
accelerate the technical advance of Brazilian music that’s been happening in
recent years. Its name is Forma, its
base is Rio de Janeiro, and its owner is Roberto Quartin. In the pursuit of the above mission, the
label sought to put together a stable of top artists, to the point that they
adopted the slogan: “The representatives)of Brazilian music are in top Form!” But these aces could be both established
artists or new faces, people who have never before recorded. Hence the first releases on Forma are discs that
showcase the already well-known Eumir Deodato and Luís Carlos Vinhas, but also
draw our attention to an excellent new find:
the Quarteto em Cy.
following decade, Forma continued its activity for a few years under the
administration of Phonogram. It released
the first recordings of Gonzaguinha and Ivan Lins, products of the university
song festivals at the beginning of the 70s.
Quartin relocated to the United States and continued his work as one of
the best researchers of the career of Frank Sinatra, even becoming his personal
friend, with authorization to produce albums of unreleased material.
years of life Quartin was committed, along with Universal, to the reissue and
remastering for CD of Forma’s complete catalog.
(written by Rodrigo Cunha)
LPs released by Forma
1964 – “Inútil Paisagem”, Eumir Deodato (FM-1)
1964 – “Novas Estruturas”, Luis Carlos Vinhas (FM-2)
1964 – “Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Sérgio Ricardo (FM-3)
1964 – “Quarteto em Cy”, Quarteto em Cy (FM-4)
1964 – “Esse Mundo É Meu – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Sérgio Ricardo e Lindolfo Gaya (FM-5)
1965 – “Bossatrês em Forma!”, Bossa Três (FM-6)
1965 – “Chico Fim-de-Noite Apresenta Chico Feitosa”, Chico Feitosa (FM-7)
1965 – “Coisas”, Moacir Santos (FM-8)
1965 – “Ana Margarida”, Ana Margariba (FM-9)
1966 – “Som Definitivo”, Quarteto em Cy e Tamba Trio (FM-10)
1966 – “Forma ’65”, Diversos (FM-11)
1966 – “Liberdade Liberdade, de Flávio Rangel e Millôr Fernandes”, Nara Leão (FM-12)
1966 – “Dulce”, Dulce Nunes (FM-13)
1966 – “Os Afro-Sambas de Baden e Vinicius”, Baden Powell e Quarteto em Cy (FM-16)
1966 – “Desenhos”, Victor Assis Brasil (FM-17)
1966 – “Tempo Feliz”, Baden Powell e Maurício Einhorn (100VDL)
1966 – “Quinteto Villa-Lobos”, Quinteto Villa-Lobos (101VDL)
1966 – “A Viagem”, Mitchell e Ruff (102VDL)
1966 – “Rosinha de Valença Ao Vivo”, Rosinha de Valença (103VDL)
1966 – “Forma 66”, Diversos (104VDL)
1966 – “Vinicius: Poesia e Canção Vol. I”, Vinicius de Moraes (105VDL)
1966 – “Vinicius: Poesia e Canção Vol. II”, Vinicius de Moraes (106VDL)
1968 – “O Violão É… Tapajós”, Sebastião Tapajós (107VDL)
1968 – “Musicanossa”, Diversos (108VDL)
1968 – “O Conjunto de Roberto Menescal”, Roberto Menescal (VDL109)
1968 – “Samba do Escritor”, Dulce Nunes (VDL110)
1969 – “Brasil Ano 2000 – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Rogério Duprat (VDL112)
1969 – “O Avarento, de Molière”, Procópio Ferreira (VDL113)
1969 – “Sebastião Tapajós e Sua Guitarra Cósmica”, Sebastião Tapajós (VDL114)
1969 – “Big Parada”, Orquestra Tropical (VDL115)
1970 – “Terço”, O Terço (VDL116)
1970 – “Agora”, Ivan Lins (VDL117)
1971 – “Som Livre Exportação”, Diversos (VDL118)
1971 – “Deixa o Trem Seguir”, Ivan Lins (VDL119)
1971 – “Som Livre Exportação Nº 2”, Diversos (FE1019)
1971 – “Muita Zorra! ou São Coisas que Glorificam a Sensibilidade Atual”, Trio Mocotó (FE1020)