Se Você Jurar
1973 RCA-Victor (original release)
2004 Reissue RCA Victor 82876640692
Tonight, Brazil is poised on the brink of an abyss where half the country is ready to elect a military thug who openly celebrates the dictatorship of 1964-1985, and promised to initiate a new one . It’s been a while since I’ve been able to visit there, and watching events unfold from a distance has been a slow, muted kind of heartbreak. No matter what happens tomorrow, things are going to be rough for a while – the slumbering, unslain beast of the country’s authoritarian, slave-ocratic past has been stirred into action, calling for a ‘restoration of tradition’ through bloody retribution. Those forces have convinced half of all Brazilians that democracy is a dirty word, so I wouldn’t expect them to respect the results of any election that is not in their favor. At this point the most I can do, perhaps the most anyone can do at this hour, is to light a candle, pray to the Orixá of your choice, and play some samba.
So I’ve chosen this Ismael Silva album, his first and only ‘long player’ released during his lifetime. Ismael Silva founded the first samba school, Deixa Falar, in the late 1920’s. Although he did make some recordings under his own name in that era, he is most famous for supplying a steady stream of hits to the singer Chico Alves, one of the great early stars of samba. (As was the custom, Francisco Alves was documented as a composer on these, whether or not he ever contributed a single idea). In the wake of the “roots” samba revival of the 1960s, a whole host of sambistas began getting “rediscovered” and putting out records under their own name, like Adoniran Barbosa, Cartola, Zé Keti, and Nelson Cavaquinho. This was Ismael’s turn. The album is a soundtrack, really, for a theatrical concert production telling his life story, alongside that of Carmen Costa, that was written and produced by Ricardo Cravo Albin, who also wrote the original liner notes. “Side A” of the album contains medleys of his classic compositions from the ‘Golden Era’ of samba, while “Side B” features material the world had yet to hear on record. It’s a lively affair, with some “modern” flourishes like a groovy Walter Wanderley / Ed Lincoln-style organ riffs propelling things in the arrangements of Messias Santos, Jr, alongside more traditional samba instrumentation. But I’ll be quiet now, and let the music speak for itself — Continue reading