Os Cobras – O LP (1964)


Released 1964 on RCA (BBL-1290) in Brazil
Reissue 2005 Sony-BMG France

01 – Quintessência (J. T. Meirelles)
02 – Nanã (Moacir Santos / Mário Telles)
03 – Depois de Amro (Orlann Divo / Roberto Jorge)
04 – Adriana (Roberto Menescal / Luis Fernando Freire)
05 – Praia (Orlann Divo / Roberto Jorge)
06 – Uganda (Orlann Divo / Roberto Jorge)
07 – The Blues Walk (C. Brown)
08 – 40 Graus (Orlando Costa ”Maestro Cipó”)
09 – Chão (Amaury Tristão / Roberto Jorge)
10 – Menina Demais (Orlann Divo / Roberto Jorge)
11 – Mar Amar (Roberto Menescal / Ronaldo Bôscoli)
12 – Moça da Praia (Roberto Menescal / Luis Fernando Freire)

Tenorio Jr. (piano)
José Carlos “Zezinho” (bass)
Milton Banana (drums)
Raul de Souza (trombone)
Hamilton (trumpet)
Meirelles (sax alto, flute)
Paulo Moura (sax alto)

Special Guests

Jorginho (flute)
Aurino (sax baritono)
Cipó (sax tenor)
Roberto Menescal (guitar on 10 & 12)
Ugo (vibraphone on 10 & 12)


Lately, in my real job,  I’ve been pushing my way through a chunk of writer’s block rough enough to leave your hands bleeding from the splinters.  That results in a few adverse effects that involve you, blog reader:  I have less time to put into writing for this place, and then when I do have free time it’s usually spent feeling like an idiot about the other stuff I’ve been working on.

But instrumental music is often the only music that I can write to when working on that “other stuff” and this record has gotten a few spins over the last month.  It’s kind of a super group, Brazilian jazz all-stars affair, the result of the label RCA-Victor approaching composer and arranger Roberto Jorge to make a record with the regular heavyweights in Rio’s jazz scene congregating around the jam sessions at places like Little Club and Bottle’s.   The result was a bold declaration of the samba-jazz sound at its best.  On the rhythm section there’s the ubiqutuous Milton Banana – Brazil’s own Art Blakey – on the drum kit, and Tenório Jr. on piano, who was also ubiquitous until he was “disappeared”  and murdered in Argentina while on tour with Vinicius & Toquinho in the mid 70s.   Zezinho is on bass, about whom I can’t tell you much of anything besides that he frequently played with Erlon Chaves.    In the way of horns, there is the brilliant Paulo Moura, whose passing a couple years ago was a huge loss for the world of music.   The guy has probably a million album credits of everything from choro to prog rock, but here we get to hear him in the same group with Meirelles, a sax man every bit his equal.  A lot of the arrangements are by Cipó, who worked with João Gilberto’s first band Garotos da Lua and also contributes one composition and a bit of tenor sax to this record.  There are also a few arrangements by Carlos Monteiro de Souza.

This album really highlights the symbiotic relationship between jazz in the United States and  samba-jazz, jazz-bossa or just jazz in Brazil.  Flows of mutual inspiration were resulting in an amazing amount of innovation and great music on both sides of the equator.  But like in many other contexts, the relationship was also lopsided and unequal.  The infatuation of American jazz for bossa nova, Brazil’s biggest musical export, unfortunately overlooked the immense variety of possibilities presented by other styles of music, such as samba.  If US jazz absorbed anything of samba, it was by way of bossa nova’s own mutations of it.   With apologies for making a simplified, unilineal argument, I’ll do it anyway and say that samba was to bossa nova what the blues was to jazz: the latter would not have existed without the former.  But the blindness to each other’s roots was reciprocal – the blues was not really in the repertoire of musical idioms available to Brazilians either, at least not in the early 60s.  Both jazz and bossa were transnational, globalized music long before anyone used that kind of language to describe them, but when you push back into their roots you find yourself at the limits of the culturally specific.  In spite of a multitude of sociological and economic similarities, a Mississippi sharecropper and a morro resident in Rio were speaking mutually unintelligible languages.

This is another record where singling out individual tracks seems almost superfluous, but their arrangements of a few classic tunes deserve pointing out.  “Naña”, one of Moacir Santos’ most gorgeous and most recorded compositions, is immediately compelling with Tenório’s sparse deconstruction of the chord sequence opening the tune before the lush harmonies of sax, trumpet and flute come in on the main melody.  Remind me some time to post Santos’ “Coisas” album here, as it’s essential listening that makes a lot of the “top 100” lists that people are always making.  Incidentally, Moacir Santos played in a completely unrelated combo calling themselves Os Cobras, who made a one-off album in 1960 and then disappeared.

Another ear-catching track is a version of Clifford Brown’s signature tune, “The Blues Walk”, proving that these guys hold their own on straight bop.  The album is infused with bop throughout, especially noticeable in Meirelles’s own composition “Quintessence” and “Praia” from Orlann Divo & Roberto Jorge, which still sound fresh.  They may start out a bit reverent playing Brown’s tune, but the sense of playfulness and fun soon overtakes everything else. This is followed by the Cipó composition “40 graus” which except for its choruses bears more than a passing resemblance to the rocking samba-jazz-bossa that J.T. Meirelles was making with Jorge Ben at the time.  It’s also the longest track here, clocking in at a whopping four and a half minutes.  The record closes with a short pretty composition by Luiz Fernando Freire and Roberto Menescal (“Moça da praia”, apparently a favorite theme of the bossa crowd), who also features on acoustic guitar.

Using the original liner notes, translated into French for this pressing, it is possible to reconstruct who plays what solo on which tunes.  Anyone who feels so inclined to do so is welcome to compile it and send it to me, and I’ll happily post it here.  As for me, it’s time to get back to chipping away at that writer’s block.

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Hermeto Pascoal – Zabumbê-bum-á (1979)



Hermeto Pascoal
Original release 1979 Warner Brothers
Reissue 2011 – Coleção Cultura / Warner Brasil

A1         Sâo Jorge     2:36
A2         Rede     6:27
A3         Pimenteira     6:27
A4         Suite Paulistana     5:27
B1         Santo Antonio     4:07
B2         Alexandre, Marcelo E Pablo    5:16
B3         Suite Norte, Sul, Leste, Oeste     3:55
B4         Susto     3:03
B5         Mestre Mará     4:28

    Composed By, Arranged By, Producer – Hermeto Pascoal (tracks: A1 to B1, B3 to B5)
Engineer, Mixed By – Vitor Farias
Producer, Arranged By, Mixed By – Hermeto Pascoal

– Hermeto Pascoal / arrangements, piano, clavinet, acoustic guitar, flutes, keyboards, saxophones, vocals and percussion
– Cacau / flute and saxophones
– Jovino Santos Neto / keyboards, clavinet and percussion
– Antônio Celso / guitars and mandolim
– Itiberê Zwarg / bass
– Nenê / drums, percussion and keyboards (6)
– Pernambuco / percussion
– Zabelê – vocals, percussion and acoustic guitar (6)
– Mauro Senise / flute and saxophone
– Hermeto Parents (Seu Pascoal & Dona Divina) / vocals (1 and 5)

Release information

LP: Warner Bros. Records WB 91 018 (Germany), WEA International Inc .BR 36104 (Argentina)
CD Reissue: 2011 “Coleção Cultural” / Livraria Cultura / Warner


It is often said that Hermeto Pascoal’s music is uncharacterizable.  This is essentially true.  Although you will find his records in the “jazz” section of most record stores lucky enough to stock his albums, he doesn’t always fit comfortably there.  A musical polymath, he can seemingly play any instrument, including many of his own invention.  He may have sat in with Miles Davis (during his most polemical period), inspired Cannonball Adderley and fellow-traveler Airto Morreira, but his music is alternately tightly composed and “free”, drifting easily from fusion-esque readings of regional musical traditions from his native Northeast Brasil, to cacophonous bursts of electronics, found sounds, unorthodox instrumentation or heterodox uses of traditional instruments.  This album, Zubumbê-bum-a, followed his very important and better-known Slaves Mass album from 1977.  It’s possible that this record is more “out” than its predecessor, pushing on his avante-gard tendencies while delving deeper into cannibalistic experiments with Nordestino music and including a fair amount of spoken word and poetry.  The opening track is an idiosyncratic homage to São Jorge, whose place in Brazilian cosmology cannot be overstated – syncretized with Ogun in the myriad Afrobrazilian religion traditions, patron saint of the city of Rio, he is the protector of warriors, he who vanquishes our adversaries whether ethereal or corporal, the slayer of dragons, but the track is uplifting and breeze-worthy.     “Não tem preço não..”  there are vocals from Hermeto and Dona Divina, some of them wordless, some of them Hermeto rambling in his unique way in what might be a private oração to São Jorge –  “a carreira da nossa é isso… cavalho ligeira” … his voice is mixed under the music for the most part, giving his actual words kind of a subliminal, secondary importance.  And I’ll admit this – I have an interview with him that he gave to the famous MPB Especial program, and I can’t follow what the hell he’s talking about half the time in his free-associative jive talking.  Adjectives I’ve often heard in relation to Hermeto, both in Brazil and abroad – “crazy”, “mad genius.”  I’ve seen him perform live, only once, and it tended to confirm this reputation.  The man is a transnational treasure to humanity. But probably a bonafide nut.
With this pleasant trot on Saint George’s steed behind us, the album really takes off with the beguiling “Rede”.  Beginning slowly with spoken word evoking a lazy afternoon swinging (or rather being swung) on a hammock,  and an angular chord progression dominated by Fender Rhodes and flute, developing hypnotically into a crescendo of drums and saxophones dancing circles around the same plodding, angular chord structure.   The song moves almost seamlessly into the next, “Pimenteira.”  This is pretty much full-on jazz fusion in the good sense of that phrase/idea, until breaking down about five minutes into the track into a flute and zabumba jam worthy of the Banda de Pifanos de Caruarú, which lasts for less than a minute before leading back into the main theme.  This is as good a place as any to stop and mention an analogy or comparison I’ve seen about Hermeto: I’ve read comparisons of him to Frank Zappa, which initially made me wince.  This is not necessarily a dis to Frank but simply because I don’t like easy comparisons made out of convenience.  But it sort of stuck in my craw ever since, and tracks like this make me lend it some credence.  This piece wouldn’t sound out of place on one of Zappa’s instrumental albums from his “Studio Tan” era, and in general Hermeto’s sense of fun and levity,  albeit with different cultural reference points, in collusion with an infatuation with musique concrete and avant-guardism make this a more productive comparison than I would have anticipated.  “Suite Paulistana” is performed entirely by Hermeto via layered overdubs in the studio, a fact I would not have guessed had I not looked at the album jacket.  It’s a frenetic, free-music approximation of the chaos and incessant movement of Brazil’s industrial nerve-center, Sâo Paulo, that sounds for all the world like a group of musicians improvising collectively.  How on earth Hermeto managed to record this with overdubs is nothing short of breathtaking, leading to the suspicion that the chaos is actually closely controlled and composed.  More Anglophone comparisons here that wouldn’t be totally off base might be Henry Cow, a group who similarly straddled lines of jazz improvisation, progressive rock, and the avant-garde, but famously lacked any sense of humor. “Santo Antônio” begins with what is essentially an interview fragment with a “Divína Eulalia de Oliveira”, credited with “story and improvising” on the jacket, describing a traditional religious procession probably in the interior of Ceará where Hermeto is from, where a group of people go door to door asking for donations or begging alms on behalf of the saint, asking for kitchen staples, farinha, feijão, arroz, ovos, macaxeira — “Oi dona da casa! Esmola pra Santo Antônio … qualquer coisa pra ajudar..”.  The feast of Saint Anthony is commemorated on June 13, making it part of the month-long series of Festas Juninas that exists with a singularity in Northeast Brazil in ways that it simply does not in the rest of the country.    This track has so much of what is magical about Hermeto.  Its demonstrably ethnographic, musically cinematic, and cut from an entirely different cloth from the pedantic and ultimately xenophobic traditionalism of the Movimento Armorial, for example, who by the mid 70s were the self-appointed guardians of all things “cultura popular” in the northeast.  Hermeto’s eclecticism, his mixture of affection and irreverence, must have been anathema to those people.
This little write-up is quickly becoming ungainly and unwieldy so in the interest of wrapping it up, I’ll gloss over the next three tracks by saying they are bit more tame, by which I mean *almost* accessible in a conventional sense of jazz fusion but still always coming back to the album’s regionalism with fragments of baião mixed in to the stew.  Some nice clavinet on Susto, which ends up with bombastic blasts of atonality at the end which are wonderful.  Another of Hermeto’s skills – diving into atonal waters without alienating the “casual” listener is a pretty unique quality.  Not that Hermeto has that many casual listeners.  In a somewhat circular way the album closes with a experimental “Mestre Mará”, which gives a nod to the music form of maracatu nação (or maracatu baque virado, as distinct from the unrelated form of maracatu ‘rural’ or baque solto), using one of its common syncopated rhythms along with agogô. But this is quiet and pensive, whereas maracatu nação is performed with large groups of drummers whose pulse you can feel in your gut from three city blocks away.  Instead, this quiet and mysterious tone poem seems to deliver us up to a mesa branca in the curtained-off room of a mestre, with the voices of the possessed joining in, suddenly wracked by fits of coughing from the defumação of incense and herbs.  It’s not frivolous that Hermeto is sometimes called “o bruxo.”

paragraph from the back album cover:

“A música pelo músico, sem experiências nem vanguardas, apenas música sentida nota por nota, formando arranjos nos quais os instrumento, num só tempo, convivem e são individualmente explorados, escute.”

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Jose Roberto e Seu Conjunto – Organ Sound, Um Novo Estilo (1970)


  José Roberto e Seu Conjunto
Organ Sound, Um Nôvo Estilo
Released 1970 Polydor
Japanese reissue 2008

01 – Aventura
02 – Smile a Little Smile for Me.
03 – Airport Love Theme
04 – Toboga
05 – Jingle, Jangle
06 – Viagem
07 – Samanta
08 – No Time
09 – Diamante cor de Rosa
10 – The Rapper
11 – Mon Ami
12 – Always Something There to Remind Me

This is pre-Azymuth José Roberto Bertrami.  He was working as a studio musician at the time and was probably on a hundred records you have in your collection, many without being credited.  Before this he was in the band A Turma da Pilantragem.

This is nice organ combo pop-jazz with an occasional bossa flair and spasms of funkiness.  Aside from the tracks “Aventura” and “Mon Ami”, which are his own, everything else here is comprised of other composer’s work.   Kind of easy-listening and loung-y but with just enough instrumental prowess and creative arrangements to keep it interesting.  His playing may not be nearly as inventive as what he would produce with Azymuth only a few years later, but Bertrami still coaxes enough otherworldly sounds out of his keyboards to prove why he was an in-demand session player.  In particular he has a penchant for using a horn patch on his analog synth that doubles the part played by actual brass instruments, which adds a loopy and campy touch.

The majority of the repertoire is taken straight from the Hit Parade of 1969-70 and represent a pretty interesting cross section of psychedelic rock, pop, and even an ‘easy listening’ soundtrack hit.  I’ve taken the trouble to notate the cover songs’ origins:

Smile a Little Smile for Me – The Flying Machine
Airport Love Theme – Vincent Bell, from the soundtrack to the film “Airport”, 1970
Jingle, Jangle – The Archies
No Time -The Guess Who
Diamante cor de Rosa – Roberto Carlos
The Rapper – The Jaggerz
Always Something There to Remind Me  (Bacharach/David tune recorded by Dionne Warwick, Sandie Shaw, and R.B.Greaves at Muscle Shoals.  Hard to say which version Bertrami had in mind but Greaves’ version was the most recent.)

Amusingly enough, the most exciting of these cover tunes is “Jingle Jangle” from the virtual cartoon band The Archies, which is replete with fuzz guitar.

The tune “Mon Ami” was featured as a theme to the Globo telenovela “Assim na terra como no céu” in 1970 in a version produced by Paulinho Tapajós.  As I’ve stated before on this blog, the study of telenovela soundtrack music — and it is a subject that deserves series study – is not one I’ve undertaken.  Not yet, anyway.  But I have a hunch that a lot of these Top 40 international hits were associated with contemporary telenovelas that would have made them instantly recognizable to a Brazilian audience even if their originals unknown.  Did ‘The Archies’ air on Brazilian TV?  I have no idea.  For that matter the Roberto Carlos hit was also part of a feature film vehicle for him with the same title.  The two songs credited to ‘Celinho’ are a mystery to me.  There was a Celinho from the state of Ceará who played the accordion and recorded a bunch of tunes in the era of 78s, but I’m fairly certain these aren’t his songs.  Anyone who knows, drop me a line.

This Japanese reissue has typically lovely, round sound.  It’s too bad I can’t read the notes in Japanese though.  It would be nice to know if the musicians are credited.  I suspect Victor Manga is on the drums but I have no confirmation, but he did play in the Turma de Pilantragem.

{edit} As per a comment left below by a reader, I’m updating the post with the following info on the lineup: Jonas Damasceno (Joninhas), Ivan Conti (Mamão), Luiz Carlos Siqueira –
all from “The Youngsters” band – plus the late Gegê on drums and Sergio
Barroso on bass.

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Harry Whitaker / Black Renaissance – Body, Mind and Spirit (1976)

Black Renaissance
Body, Mind and Spirit

1. Black Renaissance
2. Magic Ritual

Recorded at Sound Ideas, New York, NY (01/15/1976).

Arranger: Harry Whitaker.

Players: Harry Whitaker (piano); Lani Groves, Edna Holt, Sandy Nakarmura, Assata Dolby (vocals); Azar Lawrence (soprano & tenor saxophones); David Schnitter (tenor saxophone); Woody Shaw (trumpet); Buster Williams (bass); Billy Hart, Howard King (drums, percussion); Mtume, Earl Bennett (percussion)


For those of you who have never heard of this album, it will come as a lovely surprise. For those who have heard about it but have yet to actually hear it, it might well seem a bit over-hyped, due in no small part to the douchebaggery of one Giles Peterson, who prattles on in the liner notes about how cool he is for knowing about it and showing it off to any other DJ’s who “dared to challenge” him. Well if you ignore that bloated musical neocolonialist (and snappy dresser), you can immerse yourself in what was truly a lost gem, lost even to its creator for decades.

Recorded on Martin Luther King Day in 1976, Whitaker invested his own hard-earned money as an arranger, writer, and session player into making this boldly uncommercial soul-jazz exercise in musical stretching. It features understated riffing from Azar Lawrence, David Schnitter, and the eternally-underrated Woody Shaw. Anchoring the rhythm is stalwart bassist Buster Williams with Howard King on drums and James Mtume on percussion. These latter two would go on to release the first album from the band Mtume the following year, and it’s interesting to keep that in mind while listening to this. While the first side of this album straddles a line between between mellow funk and spaced-out soul jazz (and is a bit long-winded at 23 minutes), the second and shorter side ‘Magic Ritual’ is a more aggressive, agitated piece of Afrocentric celebration. There is effective use of spoken word here that puts us comfortably in Strata-East and loft scene territory. More industry/label hype is compelled to claim this is “one of the earliest examples of rap” or some such nonsense. How many records are we going to bestow that honor on? At any rate claiming this for an album released as late as 1976 is a ludicrous statement that ignores so many musical ancestors it barely merits discussion. So, I’ll stop discussing it.

Since it is Martin Luther King Day in the United States, and since the next US president is likely to abolish that holiday, this makes today probably the last opportunity to celebrate this album without being locked up and held in indefinite detention without Habeas Corpus.

The sound on the CD is burdened with distortions, but given that the masters were destroyed and the source used here is presumably the Japanese bootleg that until now was the only available release, at the end of the day it sounds surprisingly good.

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Doug Carn – Infant Eyes (1971)

Doug Carn
“Infant Eyes”
Released 1971 on Black Jazz Records (BJ/3)

Welcome 1:15
Little B’s Poem 3:50
Moon Child 7:56
Infant Eyes 9:50
Passion Dance 5:58
Acknowledgement 8:45
Peace 4:30

Doug Carn – piano, electric Piano, organ
Jean Carn – vocals
Bob Frazier – flugelhorn, trumpet
George Harper – flute, tenor, saxophone
Al Hall Jr. – trombone, trombone
Henry Franklin – bass
Michael Carvin – drums

Produced by Gene Russell

Although he recorded a 1969 album in a trio setting for Savoy (which I’ve never heard), Doug Carn is of course most famous for his relationship with the independent Black Jazz label. His albums on that imprint may be single-handedly responsible for the label’s canonical status in Afrocentric spiritual jazz. They are remarkable for many reasons, not least of which is the presence of innovative lyrics sung by his then-wife Jean Carn, who not unlike Abbey Lincoln used her voice as part of the ensemble arrangements rather than as a vocalist with a backup band. The communal family vibe is accentuated by the beautiful album cover photography and the opening tune Little B’s Poem; together with the cover photo, I feel like I knew their daughter and wonder where she is now and how she feels about all the musical attention today. While the following albums from the Doug and Jean Carn would push further with original material, this first album is noteworthy for it’s reworking of compositions by jazz heavyweights that they admired – Bobby Hutcherson, Horace Silver, Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Wayne Shorter. In particular, adding lyrics to that material and making the compositions into something else is the big achievement here.

I have a repress vinyl of this that sounds pretty good and began to mess around with a digital rip of it, but am unsure whether or not to keep working on it. This CD pressing from 1997 sounds okay but the second side (of the original LP) suffers from nasty wow and flutter from whatever source tape they used. This was the first appearance of this album on CD and I am not sure if there has been any other remastered versions since, but I kind of doubt it. In fact last year somebody claiming to have a set of Black Jazz master tapes was selling the whole bundle on Craig’s List for a hefty sum; the auction was dubious as they were comprised of 1/2″ reels, which even for a studio on a budget in the early 70s would have been a substandard format, and claimed to come with full reproduction rights. Most likely the reels were production copies or just plain counterfeit, the listing was not online long before it was either met with an offer or taken down. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that we’ll be seeing a new series of reissues mastered from 1/2-inch tape.. Unfortunately a few of the other extant Doug Carn reissues have the same wow-and-flutter problem. Badly stored tapes, damaged playback equipment, sloppy transferring, or all of the above, it doesn’t really matter – the end result is that this precious, important music hasn’t received the treatment that it merits. But the most important thing is that it is still available and people can hear it. Since the reissued vinyls were most certainly just the CD master with an R$AA equalization curve applied, there isn’t much point in having both versions except for purely fetishistic reasons. Unless I can manage to get my hands on original vinyl pressings, they are however all we’ve got..

The liner notes by Doug Carn are a treasure. Written just for the reissue, they have a remarkable amount of detailed recollections for being composed more than thirty years after the recordings, showing just what a special time this was for everyone involved. While this is not my favorite of the Carn albums on Black Jazz, it is unique and on its own it is a great record. The title cut, which according to the notes was the first fruits of Doug’s experience with writing lyrics to other peoples’ music, stands out as the most fully realized work here.


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Zimbo Trio – Zimbo Trio Vol.2 (1966) 24bit 96khz Vinyl

Zimbo Trio
1966 on RGE (XRLP 5277)
Mono pressing

1 Arrastão
(Edu Lobo, Vinicius de Moraes)
2 Balanço Zona Sul
(Tito Madi)
3 Zomba
(Maria Helena Toledo, Luiz Bonfá)
4 Insolação
(Adylson Godoy)
5 Zimba
6 Reza
(Ruy Guerra, Edu Lobo)
7 Samba 40 graus
(Adylson Godoy)
8 Garota de charme
(Maria Helena Toledo, Luiz Bonfá)
9 Vai de vez
(Luiz Fernando Freire, Roberto Menescal)
10 Balada de um sonho meu
(Hamilton Godoy)
11 O rei triste
(Luiz Chaves)
12 Aleluia
(Ruy Guerra, Edu Lobo)

Vinyl original mono pressing ; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard ; WaveLab LE 7 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&Rename.


This is a pretty incredible jazz-bossa album, with all the heat of a hard bop session but with that bossa sensibility of keeping all the tunes under 5 minutes long. Their version of “Arrastão” (from Edu Lobo and Vinícius) which opens this album is probably their ‘signature tune’, and it is instantly endearing by the time it crescendos into the chorus where the tempo is cut in half and swung very very heavy. Godoy’s classical training seeps through his playing everywhere, with strains of Chopin mingling with his jazz key tickling. Luiz Chaves is one hell of a bassist, and it is a shame and travesty, in my opinion, that Zimbo Trio has continued to perform without him (and — worse than that — included an ELECTRIC bass..). Rubinho Barsotti is also great on trap kit, his work with mallets and cymbals being some of the best I’ve heard in this genre. Although some of these tunes – like the two from Edu Lobo, ‘Arrastão’ and ‘Reza’ — were part of Elis Regina’s repetoire and thus receiving nightly treatments by the Zimbo Trio when they were backing her up, it is the original tunes here that really chama atenção. If the manic opening bass riff of ‘Insolação’ doesn’t call your attention, then just turn the record off and find something else to listen to because you can’t be satisfied. “Samba 40 graus” is another original that makes me wonder if these guys were into amphetamines, trying to save money on studio time, or just in a hurry, but the result is ear-engaging. These guys did know how to chill out as well, however, and “Balada de um sonho meu” is about as pretty a jazz ballad one could hope for, followed the by the gentling swinging ‘O rei triste’ penned by Chavez. For “the sad king” it actually sounds pretty uplifting to me, and has some of Godoy’s most inspired playing on the record.

I shouldn’t forget to mention the two tunes from Luiz Bonfá and Maria Helena Toledo, which are both marvelous. “Zomba” has what may be the most ethereal opening of a mid-60s jazz bossa album I can think of, beginning with only Godoy on piano playing a cluster of chords around one note that fades out like a slow raindrop as Luiz comes in on bowed bass strings, a splash of cymbals from Barsotti so subtle you might miss it – and then at nearly two minutes this orchestral evocation transforms, the urbane becomes urban and streetwise, and Godoy’s erudition tackles blue intervals and the band swings it and swings it hard. Check out how hard he rocks just two notes starting at 2 minutes and 50 seconds, for about five seconds, before breaking down the melody into a dozen fragments of different voicing and tempo. Throughout the whole second half he manages to squeeze in these vertiginous arpeggios into the rest of what he’s concocting. He plays a variation of the single-note trick on us again in the OTHER Bonfa/Toledo tune, “Garota de charme”, where he gently taps out some augmented and diminished chords with his right hand while his left plays a melody in unison with Luiz Chavez’s bass. Charming, indeed. It only last a few seconds but it makes the track for me; it’s these small moments of skin tightness that makes a tune that is only 2 minutes and 16 seconds long seem like it plays for five minutes.

I worked for quite a while on this vinyl rip of this relic, half-century old piece of petroleum, and I think it sounds pretty peachy. Hopefully you will too.



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