Arranged By – Quinteto Violado
Artwork – Jorge Vianna
Design – Lobianco, Aldo luiz
Mastered By – Joaquim Figueira
Photography By – Rodolpho Machado
Producer – Paulinho Tapajós
Studio technicians – Paulo Sergio, Zé Guilherme
Produced & Distributed by CBD Phonogram
Matrix / Runout: 200 6349143 A1
Matrix / Runout: 200 6349143 B1
Vinyl transfer info: Original Philips vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; AUdioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
Today (June 24) is the feast day of St. John the Baptist, otherwise known as São João holiday in Brazil, which of course is a really huge deal in Brazil. Earlier this week we had an offering from Trio Nordestino. Now let’s have something for the universitário set with this mid-70’s record from Quinteto Violado. This record seemed a bit more fun to prepare for the blog than the other record of theirs that I posted a whole FOUR YEARS ago, over here. There you can read all about my misgivings about this kind of conservatory-trained appropriation of roots music. I’m not sure if I’ve loosened up, or if they have on this record – the group sounds a little less “studied” and more flowing here. Even if Berra-boi might be the “better” record, it sounds like they are having fun here. The blazing instrumental acrobatics of Rumo Norte and its wonderful, almost Beatle-esque vocal harmonies make me hopeful they won’t be hamstrung by any traditionalist puritanism. Or maybe the sense of fun is really just the “well-oiled machine” effect of groups that have been playing together for a while as a unit. It’s hard not to be impressed by their virtuosity here, but it still lacks something in the way of passionate conviction. Their deconstruction of the Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas classic, A Volta da Asa Brança, is certainly fun to hear. It’s artful (or maybe just ‘artsy’), clever and playful and non-confrontational (unlike Caetano Veloso’s rendition that pushes into edgy performance art territory, as seen in the Phono 73 film). It’s cool, and their drummer is on fire in the bridge, but it’s coolness is also kind of emotionally flat, isn’t it? Quinteto Violado often sounds like they just need a vocalist with some soul to make their case more convincing. But then again, awkward or uninspiring vocalists seem to be a thing in music linked to Pernambuco, so maybe its just something I’m still not ‘getting’ after all this time. Like much about ‘roots music’ itself, sometimes you just have to be from there, so just ignore everything I’m saying. Just listen to the drummer, he’s incredible. What the hell is he doing on Mundão, besides blowing my mind?
They hit all the Northeastern folkloric touchstones here, with motifs from at least a dozen different genres of music or ‘dramatic dances’ that you will find only in the Nordeste, with particular emphasis on their native Pernambuco. Obviously there is the presence of forró and even a guest appearance by the late, great Dominguinhos, who co-authored “Sete Meninas,” which opens up the second side. He even sings a little on it. You’ll also hear a simulated glimpse of a sacred jurema ceremony and a devotional homage to the caboclo spirits that animate them on Canindé. Ciranda, chegança, boi bumba, caboclinhos, cavalo marinho, and pifanos, pifanos, pifanos! If those words alone excite you then you will at least enjoy spinning this a few times. If you don’t know them, well don’t expect me to be all didactic about it, after all I’m not writing a book here. If I were writing a book, my life would probably be in a lot better shape than it is right now. At the very least I wouldn’t be spending the night of São João, Midsummer’s Eve in my hemisphere, alone in front of a computer screen.
So sit beside the breakfast table,
think about your troubles,
pour yourself some pinga, and think about the bubbles.
And celebrate the bonfires
And things made out of corn
because he not busy dying
is busy being born.
01. São João na Roça (Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas)
02. Fogueira de São João (Luiz Gonzaga / Carmelina Albuquerque)
03. Festa No Céu (Edgar Nunes / Zeca do Pandeiro)
04. Olha Pro Céu (Luiz Gonzaga / José Fernandes)
05. Noites Brasileiras (Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas)
06. São João Antigo (Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas)
07. São João no Arraiá (Zé Dantas)
08. O Passo da Rancheira (Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas)
09. Dança da Moda (Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas)
10. Lenda de São João (Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas)
11. Mané e Zabé (Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas)
12. São João do Carneirinho (Guio de Morais / Luiz Gonzaga)
Well the festas juninas have been in swing in the Nordeste for a few weeks now, and the midsummer holiday of São João (June 24) is rapidly approaching. This is, in essence, a holiday album. I believe it is the first long-player of what would turn out to be many LPs that Gonzagão released to commemorate / cash-in on this prototypically Northeastern holiday. I am not a fan of “holiday albums” of any stripe, to be honest. If I had to rank them, the list would probably mirror pretty closely how I feel about the holiday in question. Hence Halloween, Carnival, solstices and equinoxes near the top, Christmas would be at the bottom near Talk Like A Pirate Day, and São João would be somewhere in the middle with New Years Eve and Groundhog Day. It’s a lovely holiday, stretched in typically Brazilian fashion to encompass all of June and into the first week of June. But as readers of this blog know, I am by nature cantankerous and curmudgeonly, and maintaining cheeriness for such a prolonged period of time is very exhausting. Also, I’ve never been interested in marriage and I can only eat so many things made from corn.
This is the type of record that you pick a few tunes for your party playlist but don’t typically listen to from start to finish. And I think that’s fine, especially since it is actually a collection of 78s recorded and released between 1950 and 1960. In fact this appeared twice as an LP with this title: once in the late 50s and then again in 1962 with a few added tracks. LOTS of Zé Dantas here, who was Gonzaga’s most important songwriting partner aside from Humberto Teixeira. Highlights for me include Dança da moda and the wistfully melodic Noites brasileiras. I may gravitate to the latter because it is the only thing approaching a mid-tempo song here. Why do Pernambucans all have to play music so damn fast? They talk fast too. Can’t they slow down once in a while? Get off my lawn!
A1 Vaquejada 5:13
A2 Duda No Frevo 2:20
A3 Três Três 1:54
A4 Ladainha 2:22
A5 Engenho Novo 3:39
A6 Minha Ciranda 2:42
A7 Pipoquinha 1:47
B1 Beira De Estrada 2:25
B2 Baião Do Quinjí 1:57
B3 Abraço Ao Hermeto 5:26
B4 Forró Do Dominguinhos 2:17
B5 De Uma Noite De Festa 3:15
B6 Cavalo Marinho 3:13
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; 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.
** There is an annoying dropout at 46 seconds into the track Engenho Novo. This is actually on the LP and not do to any post-processing at my end.
I have always had mixed feelings about Quinteto Violado for reasons elaborated below, their music is enjoyable, and this is probably as good a record as any to wind up the Festa Junina cycle – they are the kind of group that would headline an outdoor stage tonight, which marks the feast days of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul. While Quintet Violado had common ground with a lot of post-bossa nova MPB, their records played like an aural encyclopedia of Nordestino folklore. In fact they were so encyclopedic that they were chosen by folklorist and shifty entrepreneur Marcus Perreira to be the “house band” for his Música Popular do Nordeste albums, which launched a larger series of records chronicling ‘folkloric’ music from other regions of Brazil. On this, their second album, Quinteto Violado traverse the musical countryside and give us songs embroidered with forró, frevo, vaqueijada, ciranda, bumba-meu-boi, flute ‘fife and drum’ band or pifano music, and chegança-de-marujos / fandango. They also offer an homage to Hermeto Pascoal on one tune where they stretch out and push their own limits in tribute to that avant-garde alchemist of the Northeast, followed by a version of “Forró do Dominghuinhos” that is pretty original, using Dominguinhos’ unforgettable melody line as a release from the tension they build up around it. Unlike their debut album, which was halfway comprised of compositions associated with Luiz Gonzaga, this record is largely of their own authorship, with one “traditional” theme from Pernambuco’s variant of bumba-meu-boi, cavalo marinho, being given a short rearrangement at the end.
Formed by a group of university music students in the early 1970s and getting their start playing at the famous ‘festivals of song,’ Quintet Violado early on centered their musical identity around an embrace of the traditional sounds and folk musics of their native Pernambuco. There is a heavy dose of cultural appropriation happening, of privileged individuals drawing on the creative work of the povo sofrido. But if “my problem” with the Quinteto stopped there then it would be a pretty shallow criticism, because cultural mediation takes place at all kinds of levels and with all kinds of nuances. To cite an example, the world of samba is rife not only with tales of exploitation but also of interesting and productive creative partnerships and business relations that cut across class and racial lines. So, my misgivings have less to do with the fact that these are conservatory-trained musicians delving into folk music, than with other aspects that in many ways seem specific to the northeast and the historical moment when this group formed. Some of what I have to say in this blog post is even more applicable to the Orchestra Armorial that formed out of playwright and poet Ariano Suasunna’s work. The Quinteto Violado was never formally affiliated with Suasunna’s “movement” as far as I know but they were at least lauded by him as the decade wore on, as the kind of ‘popular music’ that young people ought to like. The elements of the Quintet that I find problematic are also present in even more exaggerated form in the Armorial project; I will surely have to do a blog post for an Armorial album now, not because I particularly want to but because I have opened that proverbial can of worms.
Getting back to this record, let’s take a statement from Roberto Menescal who wrote the blurb on the back cover of the LP:
“I believe that Brazilian musicians, including the entire young generation, are coming around to looking within, searching for their own roots and origins, in a path more personal and true where they can walk with security, originality, and inventiveness, and not just building on what has been done outside our country.”
This kind of sentiment is rich in irony coming from someone so central to bossa nova, a music that was excoriated by traditionalists for being unduly influenced by North American jazz. But neither Menescal or the Quinteto Violado were making claims of traditionalism here. Although there are no electric instruments whatsoever on this record, the upright string bass of the band’s leader Toinho is completely foreign to the folkloric music they draw upon, and you can hear the ‘jazzista’ influence both in the solos the members take and in the close intervals used in some of the chord voicings. So they were not trying to excavate a lost folklore music like the followers of Cecil Sharpe in Britain (many of whom I am a big fan of, incidentally), but wanted to draw on these elements and create new compositions, even when there was a strong element of emulation. Perhaps they were more like Inti-Illimani or certain others involved in the nueva canción who drew on indigenous music. And just like those artists were not necessarily indigenous, the members of Quinteto Violado did not come from the same social background as the people who originally made and continued to make the “folkloric” types of music they used as their palette. This is not in and of itself a problematic thing, except that these “roots” are celebrated as belonging to everyone – this is “our” culture, ‘o povo nordestino.’ Regional and colloquial references are employed in great density to built up an air of authenticity, to the point of really laying it on thick sometimes: in the song “Ladainha”, they manage to reference the ceramic folk-artist Vitalino from the city of Caruarú, alongside the bandit-heroes Lampião and Maria Bonita, and the deified (and mildly heretical) Padre Cícero from the town of Juazeiro, all in the same verse.
Although they might appreciate the cultural references, the intended audience for the music the Quinteto Violado made was not sharecroppers in the sertão, or cane cutters or wagon drivers like the family described in the song “Engenho Novo” here. Beginning with this album they had moved from performing at the festivals to giving their own somewhat elaborate concerts, which that like all MPB of the era involved stage designers and art directors. I would be interested to know what some of the regional folk musicians (whose styles were being appropriated) actually thought of the Quinteto’s music at the time, if they ever encountered it at all. “The people” who provide the inspiration and raw material for this kind of music are left out of its production, consumption, and critical appraisal; in the end, music like this can become yet another way to write people out of their own history.
The Quinteto’s musicianship is indisputable, and their intentions were sincere. It’s not as if they set out to dispossess a people of their musical traditions and make a ton of money on the backs of it. The band never really got rich and famous playing this kind of music, but they have made a healthy career for themselves, and maintain a level of visibility that is largely unachievable by those folk musicians of more humble backgrounds. This is not simply due to the relevant but also too-obvious fact that privilege and connections in the music business often count more than raw talent. In aesthetic terms, the trained musicianship and refined, conservatory sensibilities of the Quinteto allowed them to recast these rural folk music forms into a form that is more palatable for Brazil’s educated middle class, honing down the rough edges. The music is not decontextualized so much as recontextualized, stripped of elements that might offend the sensibility of a more erudite public. The frequently bawdy or raunchy language or double-entendre, the occasionally sexist or even racist jokes, and even the elements of social critique that might hint at an awareness of class struggle or exploitation: all are purged from this sanitized representation of cultura popular. To ask and to answer what purpose such representations serve in the long run would be to launch into a discussion verging on the academic, and dragging in outside references that don’t comfortably fit into this blog as I conceive of it. Besides – you will just have to wait and buy my book, if and when it is ever completed and/or published, when you can have footnotes and references to your heart’s content.
Of course, don’t let this write-up put you off from listening to and enjoying this record. It is well-conceived and well-played music, with an energy and enthusiasm that is palpable. There are gorgeous textures produced by the interplay between the acoustic guitar and Brazilian viola (not the bowed but the fretted instrument in the guitar family). There are plenty of reasons to appreciate this record on its own merits without taking any of the above into consideration. And for many Brazilians of the time, encountering Quinteto Violado was probably the first time they had heard of many of these music genres. Just like the first time I ever heard of the Banda de Pifanos de Caruarú was by way of their glorious opening of Gilberto Gil’s Expresso 2222 album, where I also heard my first Jackson do Pandeiro composition. The fact that most people are not compelled to dig deeper into the roots of their favorite contemporary artists does not cause me any great existential pain. The problem lies more with a particular way of celebrating “tradition” and fixing it in time and space in a way that fits a certain agenda, one that may be odds with the communities that originally cultivated it. All too frequently the people and institutions who herald these celebrations make claims that “the old ways” need to be revived and promoted or they will be lost to the ages, but instead of watering the “roots” and allowing them to flourish, they are watering them down and offering up a diluted simulacrum.
Lia de Itamaracá ‘Ciranda de Ritmos’ Released 2008 – Independent with support of Petrobrás and the Ministry of Culture
1. Dança do povo (3:15) 2. Quem me deu foi Lia / Moça namoradeira (5:32) 3. A vizihna (3:41) 4. Morena de Pernambuco (3:26) 5. Coco limoeiro / Baralho (4:32) 6. Mamae oxum (2:37) 7. Verde mar de navigar (4:25) 8. Ciranda feiticeira / Ciranda nova / Santa Teresa (6:13) 9. Balança moreno cirandeiro / Marinheiro samba (5:41) 10. Coco meu barco velou / O passarinho (6:26) 11. Cirandando pela praia (3:37) 12. Essa ciranda é minha (3:01) 13. Recife (3:31) 14. Moreno Dengoso (2:53)
Lia da Itamaracá is a legend. So much so that some people think she is, literally, a figure of myth and folklore and not an actual person. She has songs named in her honor from the likes of Paulinho da Viola and the ciranda singer Baracho in the 1970s, but she has recorded very little. In fact her first album, recorded for the label Tapecar in the late 70s, brought her absolutely no money whatsoever – she was paid with 20 copies of the LP – and she wouldn’t record again more than twenty years. Through performing at an influential hipster music festival in Recife, she began enchanting a wider public and was lured into recording again. Her second album, Eu Sou Lia (2000, Ciranda Records) is excellent, probably better than that first effort. It is also already very out of print. That album contains a version of her famous song, “Quem me deu foi Lia” that also appears here. It was written by Baracho, who also recorded barely at all but did reasonably well for himself when ciranda underwent a surge of interest in the 1970s, and whose daughters currently sing backup vocals with Lia. That song begins with the beautiful melody and lyrics of:
Eu estava na beira da praia Ouvindo as pancadas das ondas do mar Esse ciranda quem me deu foi Lia Quem mora na Ilha de Itamaracá
I was on the shore Listening to the crash of the ocean’s waves It was Lia who gave me this ciranda, Who lives on the island of Itamaracá
This record is more diverse stylistically than her first two efforts. The humorous song “A vizinha” about a nosey busy-body neighbor, puts me very much in the mind of Clementina de Jesus’s album with Pixinguinha – it is a “maxixe” (a precursor of samba and relative of choro) rather than a ciranda, and a “public domain” tune about which I am ignorant. There are other traditional tunes here that are wonderful, like Mamãe Oxum and Balança moreno cirandeiro/Marinheiro samba (whose melody you might recognize as one that Caetano Veloso lifted to put in a song he gave to, yes, Clementina de Jesus…). There is also a tune written by famous frevo composer Capiba, “Verde mar de navigar”, here performed in the style of maracatu nação for which Recife is famous (the lyrics make reference to Maracatu Elefante, the oldest maracatu in the city that still functions).. There are two tracks on this album in the style samba de coco’, also strongly associated with Pernambuco — “Coco limoeiro / baralho” and “Coco meu barco velou / o passarinho.’ The majority of the original tunes on this album come from Lia’s saxophone player, Bezerra do Sax. At the time of this album he had played with her for 40 years and was 91 years old.
The island of Itamaracá is also a real place, and its beauty is legendary. That legend may have passed into history somewhat, as increased development and tourism have left the beaches not quite as pristine and picturesque as they once were. But it still has its stretches of breathtaking beauty if you are patient enough to seek them out. If you do ever have a chance to visit this town of roughly 18,000 people, ask around for the Centro Cultural Estrela de Lia, which has live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Lia has also received the title of “Patrimônio Vivo” from the state of Pernambuco, which in recognition for her contribution to the cultural patrimony of the region provides her with a yearly financial stipend. This program (one of many well-meaning programs launched by the Ministry of Culture under Gilberto Gil’s tenure) is a little odd but mostly a good thing. At least it’s giving some recognition to someone who has practiced her art for decades and is only recently receiving the attention and renumeration that she deserves.
Lia also starred in a short film called ‘Recife Frio’ by talented director Kleber Mendonça Filho which won a bunch of awards but not nearly as many awards as his newest film, O Som ao Redor which is getting a ton of great press all over the world. “Recife Frio” is a comic faux-documentary about the effects of drastic climate change on that tropical capitol brought about by a fallen meteorite that plunges the equatorial regions into frigid temperatures. But there’s no reason to worry about that with this album, which will warm your evenings in any latitude.
QUADRILHAS E MARCHINHAS JUNINAS Luiz Gonzaga
This vinyl rip from a 1973 RCA Dynaflex repress
1 Pot-pourri Instrumental:
Fim de festa (Zito Borborema)
Polca fogueteira (Luiz Gonzaga)
Lascando o cano (Luiz Gonzaga – Zé Dantas)
Pagode russo (Luiz Gonzaga)
Fogueira de São João (Luiz Gonzaga – Carmelina Albuquerque)
2 Olha pro céu (Instrumental)
(José Fernandes, Luiz Gonzaga)
3 São João na roça (Instrumental)
(Luiz Gonzaga, Zé Dantas)
4 Fogo sem fuzil
(José Marcolino, Luiz Gonzaga)
5 Quero chá
(José Marcolino, Luiz Gonzaga)
6 Matuto de opinião
(Gonzaguinha, Luiz Gonzaga)
7 Boi bumbá
(Gonzaguinha, Luiz Gonzaga)
8 O maior tocador
(Ary Rangel, João Silva)
Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – resampled (and dithered for 16-bit) using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag&Rename.
Well I had hoped to get this post done yesterday but it just didn’t happen. Yesterday was the official day of São Pedro but since today is the very last day of June, I am barely saved from being a day late and a dollar short. There are still festas juninas going on the northeast, and if you are at one you obviously don’t need this LP, but for everyone else you can entertain yourself with Luiz Gonzaga. Gonzagão must have made a dozen São João-themed LPs in his lifetime (including a “volume two” to compliment this particular record a decade later, which I’ve never seen). The first side of the LP is entirely instrumental, including a medley that rips through tunes both familiar and arcane from his catalog. Gonzaga’s playing never fails to stun but if instrumental forró is not your thing, you might find yourself checking your watch as you wait for the second half. Side Two features six short and sweet vocal tracks. Although none of these probably make it on a ‘best of’ collection (I’m not sure about the CD boxset, which one of these days I will invest in), but I had heard at least a couple of them somewhere before picking up this album. Boi Bumbá and Piriri are Gonzaga at his finest, the latter being a fantastic São João song with a chorus that will stick in your head for hours.
The former track, Boi Bumbá, has a great extended verse/bridge section where the singers divide up cow and deliberate on which parts go to whom. This is actually a vocal duet, trading off with another singer, whose identity is unknown to me. I could try to find this out by reading a biography on Gonzaga, but I am basically lazy and do not know how to read. So I will appeal to any blog followers here for information – does anybody know? It is a double mystery in that the song also has a writing credit (along with preceding track `Matuto de opinão’) given to a Luiz Gonzaga Junior. My first reaction to seeing this was — this CAN’T be Gonzaguinha, the adopted son of Gonzagão who had his own brilliant recording career in the 70s. Well, checking on his birth date, I discovered that he actually would have been twenty years old by 1965, so technically it is possible. But Gonzaguinha’s own work would totally eschew the kind of rustic regionalisms that form the backbone of his father’s repertoire in favor of jagged social commentary and political engagement, having over 50 of his compositions censored by the military government. Even though his recording career had yet to begin in 65, as far as I know he was involved with the student movement of the time and I just can’t imagine him having anything to do with these two tracks. So, it must be a coincidence, right? Or maybe not. Anyone with clues please leave them in the comments here.
I felt so badly about the mediocre O Cavaquinho no Forró album earlier this week having been the only ‘celebration’ for São João or the festas juninas on the blog this year, that I thought I would make it up to you by getting this post up just under the wire. Please accept my peace offering.
password in comments
Pra onde vai a barrigueira?
Vai pra Miguel Pereira
E a vassoura do rabo?
Vai pro Zé Nabo
De que é o osso da pá?
De Joãozinho da Fornemá
E a carne que tem na nuca?
É de seu Manuca
De quem é o quarto trazeiro?
De seu Joaquim marceneiro
E o osso alicate?
De Maria Badulate
Pra quem dou a tripa fina?
Dê para a Sabina
Pra quem mando este bofe?
Pro Doutor Orlofe
E a capado filé?
Mande para o Zezé
Pra quem vou mandar o pé?
Para o Mário Tiburé
Pra quem dou o filé miõn?
Para o doutor Calmon
E o osso da suã?
Dê para o doutor Borjan
Não é belo nem doutor
Mas é bom trabalhador
Mas é véio macho, sim sinhor
É véio macho, sim sinhor
É bom pra trabaiá
Rói suã até suar
Ê boi, ê boi
Ê boi do mangangá..
This is a repost of an old post that mysteriously disappeared. It’s only a few days before the feast of São João but the bonfires have been kindling in Northeast Brazil for the entire month of June, so this is a late start. With any luck I might have a new post with actual new content before the 24th.
Banda de Pífanos de Caruaru
Released 1979 on Marcus Pereira (MPL 9394)
(J. Biano, Sebastião Biano)
3 A briga do cachorro com a onça
4 Marcha dos bacamarteiros
(J. Biano, Sebastião Biano)
5 Xamego dos “pife”
(Sebastião Biano, Gilberto Biano)
6 Feira do troca-troca
(J. Biano, M. Alves)
7 As espadas
(Sebastião Biano, Amaro Biano)
8 Pipoca moderna
(Sebastião Biano, Caetano Veloso)
9 Os Tupinambás
10 Cavalinho, cavalão
11 Valsa da pastora
(Sebastião Biano, Benedito Biano)
(Sebastião Biano, Benedito Biano)
(Sebastião Biano, Benedito Biano)
Vinyl original pressing -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply) > Creek Audio OBH-15 -> M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard -> Adobe Audition 3.0 at 24-bits 96khz -> Click Repair light settings, additional clicks and pops removed in Audition -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced -> ID Tags done in foobar2000 v.1.0.1 and Tag & Rename.
I am not so conceited that I can’t admit that the first time I ever heard these guys was in the opening to Gilberto Gil’s “Expresso 2222” album. It blew me away then and still ranks among one of the best album openers of all time for me. I had never heard anything quite like it. So when Gil receives a shout-out in the liner notes from Marcus Vinícius, it’s a deserving one (although he is careful to point out that Gil didn’t “discover” them). The band was founded in the 1920s, and allegedly was made to play for Lampião and his band of merry murderers / folk-heroes during the days of cangaço, and was always a ‘family venture.’ The early seventies were a particularly busy time for the group, as they got picked up by one of the large music festivals, courtesy of the enigmatic Sidney Miller (who had more or less withdrawn from writing and performing at this point), and also being included in the early volumes of the vaguely-ethnomusicological series of albums put out by Marcus Perreira that began with four volumes dedicated to “Música Popular do Nordeste.” At this point they began recording their own long-players for a handful of labels, and by 1979 had arrived at this one, their fourth LP, and this time for Marcus Perreira once again. The rest of the album does not disappoint, even if the inclusion of ‘Pipoca Moderna’ here seems like gratuitous (albiet appreciated). The final tune is a novena, bringing the ensemble back to some of its roots when it played at such religious festivities in their native city of Caruaru and its environs. I’ve split the track up into two parts from the original single-banded version on the LP, with the second half beginning during the ‘auction’ section of people taking up a collection for São Sebastião.
These tunes are surprisingly varied and fresh coming from an ensemble based on such a relatively simple sound. When you pay attention you realize just how damn TIGHT these guys are and the levels of improvisation that are worked into the compositions. The real show-stealer here, the one that will make you “a believer”, is “A briga do cachorro com a onça”, whose seven intense minutes also make it the longest track on the record. The dynamics at work are pretty unbelievable. And the title (The fight between the dog and the jaguar) is hinted at musically without my having glanced back at the album jacket — I was sure I was listening to a sound track of a ‘fight scene’ involving at least ONE animal.
Not an ‘audiophile’ vinyl transfer here, folks – this is a well-played copy. But I hope you enjoy it.