Luiz Gonzaga – Luiz "Lua" Gonzaga (1961)

*note: Gonzaga did not actually have a mustache in the photo above..

Luiz Gonzaga com Acompanhamento Típico
“Luiz ‘Lua’ Gonzaga” Released 1961 on RCA Victor (BBL-1115)

1. Capitão Jagunço baião (Paulo Dantas/Barbosa Lessa)
2. Baldrama Macia rasqueado (Arlindo Pinto/Anacleto Rosas)
3. Creuza Morena, valsa (Lourival Passos/Luiz Gonzaga)
4. Dedo Mindinho, baião (Luiz Gonzaga)
5. Amor que Não Chora, toada (Erasmo Silva)
6. O Tocador Quer Beber, xote (Carlos Diniz/Luiz Gonzaga)
7. Na Cabana do Rei, baião (Jaime Florence/Catulo de Paula)
8. Aroeira, xote (Barbosa Lessa)
9. Rosinha, baião (Nelson Barbosa/Joaquim Augusto)
10. Corridinho Canindé, baião (Luiz Gonzaga/Lourival Passos)
11. Só Se Rindo, xote (Alvarenga/Rancinho)
12. Alvorada da Paz, marcha (Luiz Gonzaga/Lourival Passos)

Transcription notes: Vinyl -> 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 -> Normalized to -1 db -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced -> ID Tags done in foobar2000 v.1.0.1.
Absolutely no EQ or noise-reduction!

As far as I can tell this was Luiz Gonazaga’s first long-player recorded FOR the format of a long-playing record or LP. Previous to this his work has been on 78s and singles. The record is also unique in that it lacks any songs from his famous partnerships with Humberto Teixeira or Zedantas. There is quite a lot of variety on this album, reflecting how Gonzaga was simultaneously “inventing” a genre of music and also constantly expanding its boundaries. The record starts off roaring with a tale of Canudos besieged by the militias of the First Republic, with their captain in the role of Judas against Antônio Conselheiro, the “messiah” of the sertão. But then the second cut, Baldrama Macia, takes us far from the northeast, to a different style of caipira or ‘country / folk’ music from the state of Mato Grosso and the area around its capital, Cuiabá. The style is called “rasqueado” and I don’t know too much about it, but apparently it grew from the riverine cultures spanning Paraguay to Mato Grosso and included the influence of polka music. To my ears it bears a curious resemblance to certain types of Mexican folk musics far to the north. The third tune, Crueza Morena, is in the mold of a traditional ‘valsa’ sertaneja, the very waltz that found its way to Brazil via the Portuguese court culture when the royal family briefly resided in Rio de Janeiro in the early nineteenth century, and would influence everyone from Villa Lobos to Pixinguinha. The next cut, a pure baião written entirely by Gonzaga himself, is a fine tune, nothing wrong with it in the least, but it pales compared to the song that follows it. “Amor que não chora”, written by the famous samba-cançao composer Erasmo Silva, was the big hit off this record. Just a gorgeous tune, everything about it complementing everything else in perfect proportions of instrumentation, vocal, lyric..

“Lugar que tem chuva, tem felicidade
Amor que não chora, não sente saudade”

Such simplicity executed with deceptively perfect rhythmic exactitude. The only other lines in the tune:

“Meu amor me abandonou, eu não sei qual a razão
Hoje está fazendo um mês que eu fiquei na solidão

Ai, ai, meu amor não chorou
Ai, ai, meu amor me deixou”

All of these are case-book examples of a vocalist knowing how to drag a line behind the beat, then speed it up in just the right place, where the phrasing is more essential than hitting all the notes – which, incidentally, Gonzaga always nailed with his big, expansive voice. Looking at the song structurally or compositionally, “there’s nothing to it,” as the English expression goes — but that’s part of the beauty, of course.

This is followed by a short song detailing the legal campaign to insure the rights of sanfoneiros everywhere to have a drink while on the bandstand. During the Estado Novo of Getulio Vargas (1937-1945), forró musicians were forbidden to drink on the bandstand due to the belief that they would incite riots and unrest and bring back the chaos of the cangaçeiros like Lampião who caused the government so much trouble. The repressive, discriminatory, and senseless law stayed on the books long after the fall of Vargas. Since Gonzaga had come to prominence with plenty of hit songs during this period, he had simply had enough of having to stay ‘dry’ during performances and wrote this song in protest. The song was popular and powerful enough that in 1962 the subject was to be brought before the Câmara of Deputies, where a nearly unanimous vote was held, “O Tocador Pode Beber.” A historic political victory in the name of popular culture.

The second side of this album is also quote good although not as strong as the first half. “Na Cabana do Rei” is another melodically lovely xotê about singing toads and pigeons. The next few tunes kind of float right through my consciousness without leaving much behind except for “Corridinho Canindé” which features a slick refrain of ‘ziggy-ziggy-boom’ as well as a tuba. This makes me happy. And actually the most beguiling track here closes out the album “Alvorada de Paz”, which is a marcha in the style of a samba-exultação, that is to say a patriotic samba singing the praises of not only Brazil but its leaders as well — in this case the election of President Jânio Quadros. Quadros was only president for about eight months, famously resigning his office and claiming that “occult forces” were conspiring against him. This is a literal translation from the Portuguese, which really only means “hidden forces.” But I think that if we take Quadros’ resignation letter literally, we will realize he was talking about the RECORD INDUSTRY, the Devil’s Plaything, more powerful even than the derrubador dos presidentes Carlos Lacerda, and thus by extension — Luiz Gonzaga and his “homage” to his presidency. In this line of reasoning, Gonzagão is responsible not only for the collapse of Jânio Quadros administration, but also the military coup that seized power from his vice-president João Goulart in 1964, and the entire military regime that followed. An still the cangaçeiros await their real revenge. If you play this record backwards, you will realize that forró is not just party music. It’s the Devil’s Music, pure and simple.

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Jorge Ben – África Brasil (1976)

Jorge Ben
——————————
África Brasil1976 Phonogram (6349 187)
2009 Reissue: Salve, Jorge! Boxset

1 Ponta de lança africano (Umbabarauma)

2 Hermes Trismegisto escreveu

3 O filósofo

4 Meus filhos, meu tesouro

5 O plebeu

6 Taj Mahal

7 Xica da Silva

8 A história de Jorge

9 Camisa 10 da Gávea

10 Cavaleiro do cavalo imaculado

11 África Brasil (Zumbi)

 

People keep asking me when this one is coming, and since it is my birthday today, I feel like giving back to the world. I could ramble on and on about how incredible this album is, or I could let it’s mysterious majestic funk speak for itself. The culmination of the preceding two albums’ forays into hermetic mysticism, alchemy, umbanda, and futebol, this album is a magnum opus and also something of a swan song — Jorge Ben would never again come anywhere close to making an album this good! I was astonished to learn last year that it has been out of print for a while. I have the old ‘Samba & Soul’ series pressing, and shared it once around the corner. I am fairly certain it has been here before too. This album is essential, essential, essential listening! And on this record, we get full musician credits:




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Gil e Jorge – Ogum Xango (1975)


Jorge Ben & Gilberto Gil
——————————
Gil & Jorge / Ogun Xango

Released 1975 Phonogram (9299 453/4)
This reissue: Salve, Jorge! Boxset 2009

LP 1

1 Meu glorioso São Cristóvão
(Jorge Ben)
2 Nega
(Gilberto Gil)
3 Jurubeba
(Gilberto Gil)
4 Quem mandou (Pé na estrada)
(Jorge Ben)

LP 2

5 Taj Mahal
(Jorge Ben)
6 Morre o burro, fica o homem
(Jorge Ben)
7 Essa é pra tocar no rádio
(Gilberto Gil)
8 Filhos de Gandhi
(Gilberto Gil)
9 Sarro
(Jorge Ben, Gilberto Gil)

Since this album was reissued on the Verve label for years, and thus available domestically in the US, it was actually the first Jorge Ben I had ever heard in my life. Note: if you have your 3-D glasses left over from Avatar, the original album cover of this was apparently designed to be viewed in 3-D. Far out.

I remember not knowing what to think the first time I put it on. The songs were so loose, so long and jangly and laid back — just not what I had expected after everything I had heard about Jorge. Also Gilberto Gil is doing his thing and being, well, Gil — his vocal whoops and falsetto vocalizations can be a little weird and grating. In fact in some ways this might possibly the most ‘psychedelic’ album either one of them recorded. I don’t know if I can back that statement up if you haven’t heard this. This has nothing to the production of this record — very straight-forward recording of a jam session with some slight delay and reverb added to the vocals and guitars. Some bass guitar on one track only. But it’s free-flowing improvisational acoustic attack, with little regard for conventional song structures in the commercial sense, this could almost have the same vibe as an Amon Duul (Mach I) album, albeit with actual talent involved. I have said this before and will repeat it here — I wouldn’t recommend this as an introduction to Jorge Ben, or Gil for that matter. Not because it’s bad, just because its well… kind of weird and atypical. But there is a reason why its a classic. There is great music from start to finish, and songs by both artists that don’t appear anywhere else. ‘Filhos de Gandhi’ is one of my favorites, and unique to this record. Essentially a slowed-down afoxé minus the percussion, its title is taken from one of the more famous carnaval blocos of Salvador, Bahia. Gil tells the story himself on his own website, which I will leave untranslated out of pure laziness, for the moment at least:

“Chegado de Londres, em 72, eu fui passar o carnaval na Bahia, e encontrei o Afoxé Filhos de Gandhi sem massa humana na avenida, reduzido a apenas uns quarenta ou cinquenta na Praça da Sé. O bloco, tão vivo na minha memória, tinha sido um dos grandes emblemas da minha infância e era o mais antigo da cidade. Começou a sair em 49, quando eu tinha sete anos; os integrantes passavam pela porta de casa no bairro de Santo Antonio, todos de branco, com turbantes e lençóis, palhas de alho trançadas e fita na cabeça, e com um toque que era diferente do samba, da marcha, do frevo, dando uma sensação de espaço sagrado (depois viemos a saber que o afoxé era mesmo um toque religioso do candomblé). Eu tinha veneração pelo Gandhi, e ao revê-lo numa situação de indigência, me deu uma dor seguida de um arroubo de filialidade, de amor de filho, arrimo de família; resolvi dar uma força. A primeira coisa que fiz foi me inscrever no bloco – para ‘engrossar o caldo’. Depois fiz a música, e continuei saindo – saí treze anos seguidos. As fileiras foram aumentando, e o Gandhi se recuperando. Os jovens ficaram entusiasmados com minha presença, e os velhos se sentiram mais estimulados a trabalhar; enfim, foi um estímulo geral.”

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Album cover from the US release on VERVE RECORDS:

Jorge Ben – Solta o Pavão (1975)

Jorge Ben
SOLTA O PAVÃO
Released 1975
Phonogram / Philips (6349 162)This reissue, Salve, Jorge! Boxset

1 Zagueiro
2 Assim falou Santo Tomaz de Aquino
3 Velhos, flores, criancinhas e cachorros
4 Dorothy
5 Cuidado com o bulldog
6 Para ouvir no rádio (Luciana)
7 O rei chegou, viva o rei
8 Jorge de Capadócia
9 Se segura malandro
10 Dumingaz
11 Luz polarizada
12 Jesualda

I was lucky enough to find a vinyl copy of this album years ago for the price of a sandwich or maybe just a bag of chips. It was a near-perfect copy marred only by a single skip on one track. But a combination of wanting to preserve this relic, and as much as I love vinyl I must admit this: the convenience of CDs, led me to rather ignore this album in favor of its predecessor, the famed “A Tábua de Esmeralda”, which has been available in various pressings much more so than this title.. I also thought A Tábua was a better album, the best he ever made. Well now I am not so sure. Since getting this new boxset I have been playing the hell out of this CD more than the others. The songs may not reach out and pinch you like “A Tábua” does I think the album is for the most part the equal of its “twin”. The album even has a similar weak spot — the slightly-annoying “Cuidado com o bulldog” is the equivalent of A Tábua’s “Brother”, i.e. a song that you often just want to skip over. Except that “bulldog” is structurally more interesting and band rocks the fuck out of it. (I keep locking horns with people over the song “Brother”.. Okay, it’s not *that* bad.)

Musically there is a frenetic energy and tension to some of the songs that differs from A Tábua, in a way leading into the funk overdrive of his next album, Àfrica Brasil. The production from Sr. Tabajos is once again brilliant. Woodwind arrangement on ‘Dorothy’. Enough said. The drums on that tune and some others suffer a little bit from the mastering, which sounds like it was sent through a Manley tube compressor running warm enough to reheat my soup. “Assim falou Santo Tomas de Aquinas” is a thing of beauty infused with inner light. The track Jorge de Capadócia is a sonic orgasm bringing timbales, analog synths, and an odd coda with repeating plucked guitar string heavily phased and tremolo’d in a way that reminds me of “Future Days”-era Can..(I have no idea why everything has been reminding me of Can lately, seeing as I have not listened to them in quite some time. Maybe its a sign to dig those records out..). Jorge’s occasionally odd mix of profundity and levity is just irresistible to me. He wants to save the senior citizens, the flowers, the children, and the dogs. All in the same song. How can I argue with that? The album kind of peters out at the end, the final tracks sort of lose your attention, but it never wears out its carpet and I’ve found myself wanting to play it over again when it ends. And I never do that.

The beguiling subject matter is very much an extension of “A Tábua”, diving further into the mystical, the arcane, the heraldric symbolism and imagery of alchemy, and influenced by the writings of St.Thomas of Aquinas. The sparse liner-notes on the back cover treat this somewhat lightly, noting (correctly) Jorge’s own alchemy at combining these interests with the cotidian life of Rio de Janeiro and his love of futebol and so on. But it’s also a very serious thing. What I wouldn’t give to have seen this boxset released with a real, comprehensive BOOKLET: where are the rare photos? the interviews? The narratives and stories behind each of these records? I want to know his favorite movies and books and invite him as my Facebook friend.. Wait a minute, that´s not actually true. But the stars know I paid enough for the box, and the least they could do is give us a few photos of Ben looking cool.

Perhaps Jorge himself is reluctant to talk about these ideas that were bubbling in the cauldron of his mind and spirit while creating the most interesting albums of his career. I don’t know if there are any interviews where he talks about them, or if any journalists or biographers have shed any decent insights on these albums ( África Brasil is part of the ‘trilogy’ of esoteric masterpieces, thought not always considered as such). If anyone happens to know of anything like this, let me know!

There are full musician credits on this one, for a change. You can read them yourself in the artwork. In the tradition of the Ohio Players, all the musicians have their astrological sign listed. There are just too many musicians to list, but I will pay homage to the rhythm section of Dadi Aroul Flabi (bass) and Gusta Von (drums) who are just massive all throughout.

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O REI CHEGOU, VIVA O REI!!!

Jorge Ben – Força Bruta (1970) [2009 remaster]


FORÇA BRUTA
1970 Philips (R 765.121 L)
2009 Reissue, Salve Jorge! Boxset
1 Oba lá vem ela
2 Zé Canjica
3 Domenica Domingava num domingo linda
4 Charles Jr.
5 Pulo pulo
6 Apareceu Aparecida
7 O telefone tocou novamente
8 Mulher brasileira
9 Terezinha
10 Força brutawith Trio Mocotó

I don’t typically like to make posts here that only a feature a review someone else has written. But I have been too otherwise preoccupied to post here lately and I realized I had gone amiss in my vaguely chronological presentation of the new Jorge Ben box by skipping ahead to 10 Anos Depois (but then, we started with Negro é Lindo, so it doesn’t matter..) Also, this album already received a post once, way back when this blog first started (it is still here, if you search for it, featuring the Dusty Groove label’s reissue).

So here is Força Bruta, Ben’s first great album in a decade of really great albums for him. The track “Pulo, pulo” would be covered by Elza Soares in 1972 in a great samba-soul sendup. And then there’s all the other tracks, which are … all great. I will let the aforementioned review take it from here, courtesy of Sylus Magazine. Well written and better than the trite garbage found on most of the websites people use to copy-and-paste music ‘critique’, I quite enjoy this guy’s write-up. And, it also manages to emphasize once again that Caetano Veloso is a douchebag.

It might sound like a slight to call Jorge Ben Brazil’s most genteel offering
from the early ’70s—he didn’t have a beard; he didn’t go to jail—but it
shouldn’t, per se. Gentility—a kind of aesthetic gentility, at least—is one of
those oddly polarizing qualities in Brazilian music: some people find it
soothing and soulful, others hear it as limp and indifferent. Even Ben at his
most rugged (1976’s África Brasil) doesn’t have the haywire quality of Gilberto
Gil’s work from the same time, a difference in approach all the more obvious
when the two collaborated in 1975 for Gil e Jorge (Gil is usually the one
screaming). Nah, Ben always seemed like the mannered one of his generation, but
sacrificing some passion in a bargain for consistency isn’t a crime—I’d rather
listen to an OK Ben album than a Caetano Veloso album that annoys me, and there
seem to be more of the latter than the former.

By the time Ben recorded
Força Bruta at age 30, he was already a legitimate pop star in Brazil; he’d
crossed over into the States via a Sergio Mendes cover (“Mas, Que Nada”) when he
was 23; and he’d already had hits backed by Trio Mocotó (who played with him on
this record). It’s in the context of history that the laid-back quality of Ben’s
music becomes refreshing, almost bulletproof: it’s hard to imagine one of our
own pop stars at the height of his or her popularity being self-assured enough
to make an album as loose as Força Bruta, not to mention using a cover photo of
them playing the harmonica with their eyes half-closed. Ben was chill as hell
and did not mind letting you observe.

But it all proceeds as you’d
expect: demure samba-rock laced with sliding strings, an agreeable, samey
atmosphere, no strife on the horizon. Ben manages to be soulful without being
gritty; any hoarseness in his voice is a play, part of his overall finesse.
Again, this could be a bad thing for you—I’m preferential to 1974’s A Tábua de
Esmeralda because it’s a little less accommodating—but it also seems like a
ridiculous thing to really lodge a complaint about. When Ben was relaxing with
Força Bruta, other prominent musicians of his generation were freaking out over
a new military dictatorship and making big, declarative artistic statements.
Gentility might not always be a flattering word, but temperance and
consideration usually are—and Ben was nothing if not both.

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Jorge Ben – Jorge Ben (1969) [Salve, Jorge! Boxset]


JORGE BEN
1969
Philips (R 765.100 L)

This reissue, Salve Jorge! Boxset, 2009
The Dusty Groove America pressing of this album from only a few years ago is on the blog HERE for your comparison. I have the original Philips pressing but without artwork (copy from a friend made a few years ago) if anybody is dying to compare all three pressings…

One of Jorge Ben’s best albums. The liner notes on the new reissue refer to it as a ‘comeback album’ — what they don’t tell you is that its also a ‘coming back to the Philips label’ album.. Ben had recorded one album for the United Artists label in 1967, O BIDU – SILÊNCIO NO BROOKLIN, that is not featured in this boxset for that very reason — which is really unfortunate since this boxset would otherwise be a complete document of his output up to 1976… I believe that Jorge Ben was in some kind of contractual dispute (such as disagreement on the terms of a new recording contract) that caused him to record for UA, but I’m not actually sure.

Regardless, ‘comeback’ notwithstanding, this is an amazing album, proving again that — just like his debut album — Jorge Ben was at his best when recording his own songs. EVERY track on this is his own. It is also remarkable and noteworthy that while other albums made by those more closely associated with Tropicália (e.g. any of the records made by Gilberto Gil, Caetano, or Gal in 68 or 69) contain little material that those artists would continue to perform (with some major exceptions scattered about…”Baby”, or “Aquele Abraço” for example), this album is packed with songs that continue to form staples of Jorge Ben’s repertoire.

This highlights one of the things I admire most about Jorge Ben — throughout the classic phase of his career, he could change elements of his stylistic approach while always retaining the ‘essence’ that was unmistakably Jorge Ben. Albums that are as different as they could be in terms of execution, approach, production — compare “Samba Esquema Novo”, this album, “A Tábua de Esmeralda”, and “África Brasil”, for example — never actually represent dramatic departures in Jorge Ben’s style of composition or playing. And I think this is a wonderful and remarkable thing. The notes on the boxset (sparse as they are, unfortunately) get things right when they demonstrate that in a very important way, Jorge Ben was always on the fringes of what was accepted as ‘serious’ music by the critics of his day — too much rock and jovem guarda for the bossa nova crowd, too much swing in his samba, too much funk in his feijoada. And in spite of critics he continued to be popular and to influence the music made by those artists more celebrated as ‘serious’, like the Tropicalístas, for whom (like Nara Leão) he was sort of an honorary member, a fellow-traveler whose career preceded the efflorescence of that movement and stood a bit further away from its center.

1 Crioula
2 Domingas
3 Cadê Teresa
4 Barbarella
5 País tropical
6 Take it easy my brother Charles
7 Descobri que eu sou um anjo
8 Bebete vãobora
9 Quem foi que roubou a sopeira de porcelana chinesa que a vovó ganhou da baronesa?
10 Que pena
11 Charles, Anjo 45

with Trio Mocotó and Os Originais do Samba

Arrangementes – José Briamonte, Rogerio Duprat (on “Descobri que eu sou um anjo” and “Barbarella”
Recorded at Scatena (São Paulo) and C.B.D. / Philips (Rio) studios
Recording technicians: Ary Carvalhaes, Célio Martins, Didi, Stélio Carlini, and João Kibelestis
Cover: Albery
Photo: Johnny Sálles
Layout: Lincoln
Violão: Jorge Ben
Produced by Manoel Barenbein

2009 Reissue mastered by Luigi Hoffer at DMS Mastering Solutions
Texts by Ana Maria Bahiana

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