Marcos Valle – Braziliance! (1967)

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Braziliance!

a música de Marcos Valle

1967 Odeon (MOFB 379)

Reissued 2011 as part of the box `Marcos Valle Tudo`

1 Os grilos

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

2 Preciso aprender a ser só

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

3 Batucada surgiu

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

4 Seu encanto

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)

5 Samba de verão

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

6 Vamos pranchar

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

7 Tando andei

(Marcos Valle)

8 Dorme profundo

(Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)

9 Deus brasileiro

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

10 Patricinha

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

11 Passa por mim

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

12 Se você soubesse

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

Marcos Valle – acoustic guitar, piano on ‘Patricinha’ and vocals on ‘Deus brasileiro’

Eumir Deodato – piano and arrangements on all tracks except ‘Patricinha’

Luiz Marinho and Sérgio Barroso – bass

Wilson das Neves – drums

Rubens Bassini and Jorge Arena – percussion

Ed Maciel, Raul de Souza, and Norato – trombone

Maurílio Santos – trumpet and flugelhorn

Aurino Ferreira and Alberto Gonçalves – baritone sax

Zé Bodega, Cipó, Walter Rosa – tenor sax

Paulo Moura and Jorginho – alto sax

Copinha, Jorginho, J.T.Meirelles – flute

Neco, Geraldo Vespar, Roberto Menescal – electric guitar

Marcos Valle doesn’t have much to say about this album. In fact it is the ONLY disc out of the 11 in this set in which he didn’t write an introductory blurb. It is almost as if he is saying, curtly, to the press, “No comment.” Well, I don’t have much to say either. It is the weakest disc in the box and contributes to bossa nova undeserving reputation as `elevator music` to those who don’t know any better.

He tells a bit of the backstory about this album only in passing, when introducing the “unreleased album” at the end of the boxset. In short, when “Samba de Verão” became a huge international hit and ended up being recorded in the USA by the likes of Connie Francis (!) and Johnny Mathis, record company executives were clammering at his door to bring him to the US and record. In a confusing rapid sequence of events which were only partly clarified for me by Marcos` notes in another disc in this set, but which in truth only left me confused until the contributions of one of my blog friends here, pawylshyn, set me straight, this album was NOT recorded in the US in spite of what I consider a very “American sound.” A production credit by West Coast lyricist Ray Gilbert (who, aside from writing English lyrics for songs penned by Brazilian composers, is probably most famous for the tune “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”) further threw me off in my having thought this album was recorded in Los Angeles or someplace. Nope, it was recorded in Lapa, RJ, but with Gilberto and Aloysio de Oliveira (founder of Elenco Records) and NOT Milton Miranda Once more, a whole bunch of great players here — it’s as if every album adds more incredible musicians who want to work with Marcos, this time bringing in new folks on horns like the inimitable Paulo Moura as well as Zé Bodega. Geraldo Vaspar and Roberto Menescal on electric guitar? This almost seems like a typographical error… Anyway, in spite of the huge cast of great musicians here, and the presence of Deodato again as arranger, the album has a very, well, “American” sound. Too many strings for my taste. Not enough horns, not enough jazz, and most definitely not enough of MARCOS VALLE. Still, there’s some gems here — its the first appearance of ‘Os grilos’ in this box, a song that appears on `Samba 68` with lyrics. It’s an infectiously good tune and would be recorded a few more times by Marcos himself. The version of “Samba de verão” is not too shabby, and “Batucada surgui” actually kind of smokes with jazz swing. Others are sadly watered down, musak-like versions of otherwise great songs. “É preciso aprender a ser só” being one of those. You can pick the others yourself. On the other hand this may be prime material for the crowd who likes ‘kitsch’ and cheesy lounge music to sit around and practice being ironic.

It truly seems like Marcos would rather just forget that he made this album. Obviously (see the comments below from readers), some people like this album or at least find it pleasant. I could call it pleasant, in fact, since it’s not as if it *offends* me or anything. It’s not terrible music; it’s just not terribly interesting.


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Marcos Valle – O cantor e o compositor (1965)

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MARCOS VALE
O COMPOSITOR E O CANTOR
1965 on Odeon (SMOFB-3413)
Reissue in 2011 on EMI (026461-2) (SET 026447-2)

1 Gente (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Preciso aprender a ser só (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Seu encanto (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)
4 Passa por mim (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
5 Samba de verão (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
6 A resposta (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Deus brasileiro (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Dorme profundo (Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)
9 Vem (Luiz Fernando Freire, Marcos Valle)
10 Mais amor (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 Perdão (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
12 Não pode ser (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
BONUS TRACKS
13. Vamos pranchar
14. Deus brasileiro (instrumental)
15. Não pode ser (instrumental)

Marcos Valle – voice and piano
Eumir Deodato – arrangements, orchestrations, piano and organ
Sergio Barroso – bass
Wilson das Neves, Dom Um Româo – drums
Nelson Ângelo – acoustic guitar
Rubens Bassini – percussion
Hamilton and Maurílio Santos – trumpet
Edson Maciel – trombone
Jorginho – alto sax
Jt. Meirelles, Walter Rosa – tenor sax
Aurino Ferreira – baritone sax

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical direction – Lyrio Panicalli
Technical superviso – Z.J. Merky
Sound engineer – Jorge Teixeira ROcha
Layout – Moacry Rocha
COver photo – Mafra

2011 Info
Project curator and producer: Charles Gavin
Supervision: Marcos Valle
Texts by Marcos Valle
Remastered from original tapes by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master Studios, RJ
Assistant engineer: Matheus Gomes

———————

This is album is a leap ahead of his first album and situated firmly in jazz-bossa with some traces of innovative pop that would become more prominent in his work later. It also has what is may be the most perfect composition of his entire career: “Preciso aprender a ser só” (I Need To Learn To Be Alone). “Samba de verão” is undoubtedly the most reinterpreted song in his catalog, recorded by a bunch of other artists afterwards includes several version of English.. “Deus brasileiro”, “Dorme profundo” lush and shimmery and wonderful. A lot of the same ‘heavy hitters’ from the debut are playing on this album too, with the added bonus of Wilson das Neves and Dom Um Romão on the drums. Also notice a young Nelson Angelo on acoustic guitar. Anybody know who is playing flute on this album (perhaps one of the saxophonists doubling on flute?) — they are not credited in the notes. But kudos to this reissue project for including musician credits in the first place, as these earlier Odeon releases did NOT include ‘backing musicians’ in general, although arrangers usually took pride of place.

Listen to how HARD the ensemble swings on “Seu encanto” and it ought to put to rest any remaining critics (are they any still living?) who thought bossa nova was overly-influenced by or even ‘imitating’ North American jazz: this song is equal to anything recorded elsewhere in its jazz credentials. Goddamn the ruffing is amazing. Just wish I knew who played the flute on it. The tune “Vem” qualifies for this premium category.

As blogger friend Le Porce Rouge put it, it seems as if every album recorded in Brazil after 1965 had a cover version of a track off this album. It’s influence must have been huge like a musical atom bomb in the climate of 1965, when bossa nova was struggling to redefine itself in a changing musical landscape. The Brothers Valle seemed unconcerned with all that and simply forged ahead with what they wanted to do, categories be damned. The record was successful enough to draw attention of music executives from abroad, who began clambering at Marcos (and Paulo’s) door to bring them to the US and record, after the likes of people like Johnny Mathis and Connie Francis (!!!) had recorded hit versions of “Samba de verão.” It is kind of a shame, since Marcos had only just ‘hit his stride’ with this album and it would be a few years before he recorded again on Brazilian soil. In the USA he would make a delightful little album, “Samba 68”, but also a dreadful little one called “Braziliance!”, and then find his way back home.

The bonus tracks feature the B-side “Vamos prenchar” which was released on the single (compato) for ‘Samba de verão’, and the instrumental takes of “Dues brasileiro” and “Não pode ser”.

Amidst all the greatness on the record, the tune “Dorme profundo” is very special to me as the ‘sleeper’ cut that somehow distills the best of what the album has to offer to me.

In regards to the sound quality issues pawlyshyn mentioned concerning the (expensive) Japanese remasters, I regret to inform you that at least some of those problems remain so perhaps it is a problem with the tapes. “Dorme profundo” has a drop-out, for example, at 1 minute and 36 seconds in the right channel. I’m pretty sure there are a few others scattered around. The is some distortion in places in the upright bass and drums but I’ve become accustomed to it on the Odeon releases from this period — they needed a Rudy Van Gelder to set them straight on how to record the rhythm section of jazz combos with proper separation. But as far as digital distortions go, I haven’t noticed any yet but since I have only had this box for two weeks, feel free to point them out if you come across them. Usually they jump out at a person, but I haven’t noticed any yet.

The back of the album jacket had original liner notes by Paulo Sérgio which unfortunately are only reproduced in microscopic form in the CD artwork. But I’ve taken the liberty of translating them here:

“”Marcos composes in the middle of the night. For this reason his sambas have the flavor of ‘saudade’ for the end of night, waiting for the day to be born. They are songs of love, that demand poetry in the lyrics in place of shouts of revolution, as some people want. It is true that sometimes this exremely lyrical composer has his moments of realism, like in “Gente”, for example. But without capitulating to some type of pre-fabricated formula. It is what we would like to call “lyrical realism.” As a singer, Marcos creates a contagious intimacy. There is nobody better suited to sing his own songs, that come to us still warm from his heart. It is one of the privleges of the singer-composer. On this album we again have the partnership of Marcos and Eumir Deodator, arranger of choice. They are two friends united by a perfect musical identification, by talent, and by the seriousness engraved on everything they do. Here they put into practice what for so long they have studied: the union of heart and technique. In the orchestration of Eumir and the singing of Marcos is the voice of poetry.”
-Paulo Sergio Valle, original liner notes
free translation by Flabbergasted Enterprises

Enjoy this one, folks.

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Marcos Valle – Samba "Demais" (1963) Remaster with bonus tracks

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SAMBA “DEMAIS”
Marcos Valle
1963 Odeon (MOFB 3376)

Reissue 2011 in Boxset `Marcos Valle Tudo` (EMI 026460-2)

1 Vivo sonhando
(Tom Jobim)
2 Amor de nada
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Moça flor
(Luiz Fernando Freire, Durval Ferreira)
4 Canção pequenina
(Pingarilho)
5 Razão do amor
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
6 Tudo de você
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Sonho de Maria
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Ela é carioca
(Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)
9 Ilusão à toa
(Johnny Alf)
10 Ainda mais lindo
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 E vem o sol
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
12 A morte de um Deus de sal (Roberto Menescal, Ronaldo Bôscoli)

BONUS TRACKS
13. Amor de nada (instrumental version)
14. Ainda mais lindo (instrumental version)

Marcos Valle – vocal, acoustic guitar
Eumir Deodato – piano, organ, arrangements
Sérgio Barroso – bass
Juquinha – drums
Ugo Marotta – vibraphone
Roberto Menescal, Geraldo Miranda – acoustic guitar
Marçal – percussion
Copinha – flute
Hamilton and Edson Maciel – trombone
Maurilio Santos – trumpet
Jorginho – alto sax
J.T. Meirelles and Cipó – tenor sax
Alberto Gonçalvez – baritone sax

Produced by Milton Miranda

Flabber general blurb about this boxset: IT’S ABOUT FUCKING TIME. At least half the albums in this box have been out of print for years, another shameful legacy of an unappreciative middle class (the only Brazilians with disposable income for non-pirated CDs) and an industry more concerned with quick profits than preserving its own legacy.

There have been a boat-load of career retrospective boxsets released in Brazil over the last year or so. I have not heard all of them, nor do I have interest in hearing all of them — but of the ones I own or have heard, this is by far the best. Marcos Valle was directly involved in the project with Charles Gavin and it seems like a real labor of love. The sound is nice and warm (it is hard for me to compare to original vinyl, since I have only heard one of these on vinyl in my entire life and would probably have to sell a kidney to buy one. Or, kidnap a street urchin and sell HIS kidney.) Each album except one includes bonus tracks – in many cases, just instrumental mixes of the same takes used on the album, in other cases B-sides to singles, and in still others alternate instrumental mixes.

Marcos also wrote introductions for each album (except one) – short but informative and adding a nice personal touch that is missing from boxes such as, for example, the Jorge Ben box.

This is not a *complete* discography for this time period. It is lacking three albums that I know of: “Samba 68” recorded for Verve in the United States, “O Fabuloso Fittipaldi” from 1973, a rare-as-fuck film soundtrack that I’ve never heard, and “Vila Sesamo”, the TV soundtrack for the Brazilian version of Sesame Street, which I uploaded a long time ago here. These were all released on different record labels, which surely accounts for their being left out of this box.

Marcos Valle and his brother Paulo Sérgio worked with a truly mind-blowing number of first class musicians and arrangers, as we will see as this boxset ‘unfolds’ on the tracker. Literally, too many ‘heavy weight’ figures to list here without the tracker rejecting my upload (again).

But perhaps the biggest testimony to Valle’s integrity is the inclusion of a bonus disc of a totally unreleased album. Not a collection of outtakes, b-sides, or rarities included on compilations or soundtracks. A full album that actually went unreleased, because it was never completed (we’ll talk about why not when we get to it). And what is *particularly* noble about this is that whereas many artists would have decided to ‘finish’ the album by recording new tracks to “complete their vision” (Brian Wilson and “Smile”, anyone?), Marcos made the commendable choice to… do nothing at all. He presents the album just as it was when it was abandoned — only a couple songs have vocal tracks, the rest leaving it to our imaginations. And it’s great.

——————–

MARCOS IN HIS OWN WORDS (free translation by Flabbergasted Enterprises LTD)

My first musical influences were in the northeastern music of Luiz Gonzaga and Jackson do Pandeiro, so much so that (many years later) I would begin to play the accordion. Afterwards came samba, Ravel, Debussy (at six years old, when I began to study piano and classical music), rock, jazz, black American music, and bossa nova. But on my first album `Samba “Demais”` what dominates is the influence of bossa – I was fascinated by the music of Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Carlos Lyra, Johnny Alf, Roberto Menescal, Sérgio Ricardo and others.

I have a certain special affection for this album – it contains ‘Sonho de Maria’, my first composition to be recorded, also in 1963, by the Tamba Trio. The lyrics are by my brother Paulo Sérgio (it was the beginning of our partnership) and the arrangements are by Eumir Deoodato (he was already immensely talented and alter we became great friends).

With ‘Samba “Demais”‘ I received my first accolades as an emerging composer and interpreter.

-Marcos Valle, 2011

FLABBER review of *this* album:

Valle’s debut record, which I believe has stayed in print pretty consistently, is solid, quality bossa nova, but it is not among my favorites in his catalog or in the genre. It got great reviews at the time and was nominated for several awards. It’s a strong album, really it is. My problems with it are quibbles, really. Released when Marcos was all of 20 years old, it is the only of his albums to feature other composer’s work: one of the most remarkable things about his discography is the immense number of songs written by him and his brother Paulo Sérgio Valle, when the standard in Brazil at the time was for singers to rely heavily on other composers. And while the compositions on this record are fine in themselves, his SECOND album really blows me away, so I can’t help thinking of this as a ‘first step’, which obviously it was (being a debut album, duh..). And although the material of other composers is well chosen, some of the lyrics (including some of Paulo Sérgio, who would only get better and better over the years) are fairly trite drivel.

The lyrics on this album ask the question: How many different ways can you compare a woman to a flower? Rhyme-laden, saccharine lyrics like those on ‘Moça Flor’ are probably what artists like Nara Leão and others had in mine when they criticized bossa nova for a sentimentalism that was increasingly out of touch with the turbulent times and vast social inequities and injustices of the 1960s:

“Moça flor
Tem a cor do amor
Seu olhar a brilhar
E essa lágrima leve querendo chegar”

… I tried to translate this into English but every time I started, I would throw up in my mouth a little bit. Let me try my own bilingual musical criticism instead: Cada um tem seu gosto, mas… isso é uma grande merda. // Everyone is entitled to their own taste, but… this is total crap. Still, apparently a lot of people DO like this song as its been recorded quite a few times.
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A look at the musician and arranger credits should be enough to convince any fan of Brazilian music to give this a try if you don’t already know the album. The arrangements from Eumir Deodato are first-class and the musicianship is superb. If the album as a whole doesn’t blow you away on first listen, don’t worry – his albums kept getting better, and we’re going to listen to a bunch of them together! This is a strong start for one of Brazil’s most prolific talents.

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Joyce – Curriculum (2011) {Rarities 1964-1972}

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JOYCE
“Curriculum”
Rarities and singles, 1964-1972
Released by Discobertas, May 2011

01. Olhos Feiticeiros (com Sambacana)
02. Você, Por Telegrama
03. A Vez e A Voz da Paz
04. Dia de Vitória
05. Andança
06. Sem Mais Luanda
07. Cavaleiro Andante
08. Andréa
09. Copacabana Velha de Guerra
10. Please Garçon
11. Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
12. Sei Lá (com A Tribo)
13. Onocêonekotô (com A Tribo)
14. Kyrie (com A Tribo)
15. Tapinha (com A Tribo)
16. Peba & Pobó (com A Tribo)
17. Caqui
18. Adeus Maria Fulô
19. Nada Será Como Antes
20. Pessoas

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It would take me half my life and more money than I possess to gather together all the material on this collection, which represents the earliest recordings by Joyce Moreno, whose artistic name during these days was simply “Joyce”. She is internationally famous and well-respected for her classy bossa and MPB albums these days. But in the beginning, she was a pretty courageous, experimental and prodigious talent. The first track on this album, Olhos Feiteiçeiros, was recorded when she was only SIXTEEN YEARS old at the instigation of Roberto Menescal with the group Sambacana. Why do I have lecherous images of Menescal giving Joyce “a back rub” in the studio to relax her? oh that’s right, because I’m a pervert.

There is a gap of four years between that 1964 recording and the rest of the material on this collection. Beginning in 1968 it is as if she didn’t sleep. Makes me feel really lazy, like I ought to make something useful out of my life. She had innumerable songs entered into the famous Festivals (none of them winners), released singles, had songs included on soundtracks to telenovelas, got married to Nelson Angelo and had kids, all before 1972. Two of those festival songs were also recorded (with more positive public reception) by Beth Carvalho – Andança, and Cavalheira Andante. But these versions are super cool, as is the original recording of “Copacabana Velha de Guerra” which would be rerecorded by Elis Regina on her 1970 album “Em Pleno Verão.” I have to say.. I think I like Joyce’s original better.

As fun as the first part of the disc might be, it is with this last song that things start to get really intriguing. Hanging out with the likes of Luis Eça and Nelson Angelo, her music took on a pointedly trippy and experimental edge, influenced by Tropicália but not dominated by it, in fact seeming to be on another path entirely, one that ran from the pristine beaches of Rio with its sunlight reflected in water and flesh and up through the climbing hills and mountains of Minas Gerais where the sun grows colder and refracts in the jagged edges of stone and crystal rock formations. And that’s why it seems natural that by the end of this she is recording a composition from the Clube da Esquina (Nada Será Como Antes by Milton Nascimento and Ronaldo Bastos), and the compilation ends right at the time when she would make her cult-worshiped landmark album with Nelson Angelo in 1972 of pastoral acoustic psychedelia. Although I am partial to the sonic orgasm of that album, but she continued to put out strong albums — Feminina and Água e Luz are probably the most cohesive and consistent, representing something like her creative peak. And she deserves particular credit for being a writer-composer and instrumentalist in a musical landscape where women in MPB have mostly been confined to the role of “interpreter.” This one should not be passed up.

 

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Beth Carvalho – Primeiras Andanças 1965-75 (2010)

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Beth Carvalho
“Primeiras Andanças – Os Primeiros Dez Anos”
Released 2010 Discobertas (DBOX-01)

Boxset produced by Marcelo Fróes
Remastering by Ricardo Carvalheira
Graphic design by Bady Cartier

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Volume One: Canto Por Um Novo Dia (1973) Tapecar X.19

1. Hora De Chorar
2. Canto Por Um Novo Dia
3. Se E Pecado Sambar
4. Homenagem A Nelson Cavaquinho
5. Evocaçao No. 1
6. A Velhice Da Porta Bandeira
7. Folhas Secas
8. Salve A Preguiça, Meu Pai
9. Mariana Da Gente
10. Fim De Reinado
11. Clementina De Jesus
12. Memoria De Um Compositor
13. Medley – Flor Da Laranjeira /sereia /sao Jorge,

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Volume Two: Pra Seu Governo (1974) Tapecar X.22

1. Miragem
2. 1800 Colinas (mil E Oitocentas Colinas)
3. Tesoura Cega
4. Maior E Deus
5. Fim Do Sofrimento
6. A Pedida E Essa
7. Pra Ninguem Chorar
8. Me Ganhou
9. Falencia
10. Vovo Chica
11. Agora E Portela 74
12. Pra Seu Governo

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Volume 3: Pandeiro e Viola (1975) Tapecar X.33

1. So Queria Ser Feliz
2. O Pior E Saber
3. Pandeiro E Viola
4. Amor Sem Esperança
5. Onde Esta A Honestidade
6. Gota D’agua
7. Enamorada Do Sambao
8. O Dia De Amanha
9. Amor Fiel
10. De Novo Desamor
11. Sente O Peso Do Couro
12. Cansaço
13. Alegria
14. Pesquisa

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Volume 4: Primeiras Andanças – vol.1 (1965-1970)

1. Namorinho
2. Por Quem Morreu De Amor
3. Ponteio
4. Sim Pelo Nao
5. Viola Enluarada
6. Contraste
7. Berenice
8. Domingo Antigo
9. Cavaleiro Andante
10. Rosa De Gente
11. Andança
12. Sentinela
13. Guerra De Um Poeta
14. Meu Tamborim
15. O Tempo E O Vento

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Volume 5: Primeiras Andanças – vol.2 (1970-75)

1. Geraçao 70
2. A Velha Porta
3. Sem Rumo E Sem Destino
4. Minhas Tardes De Sol
5. So Quero Ver
6. Essa Passou
7. Rio Grande Do Sul Na Festa Do Preto Forro
8. A Mais Querida
9. Amor, Amor
10. Mangueira Em Tempo De Folclore
11. Volta, Meu Amor
12. Meu Perdao
13. Rosa De Ouro – Ao Vivo
14. Foi Um Rio Que Passou Em Minha Vida – Ao Vivo

This boxset is a labor of love from Discobertas, a relatively new reissue label who appear to have acquired the rights to the whole Tapecar Records back catalog. Although I have some gripes about some technical issues in the production, the love and attention to detail on this package make up for it. Of the three studio albums presented all but one (‘Pra Seu Governo’) contain a few bonus rarities tacked to the end, an extra treat that hardly seems necessary given the two full discs of rarities that are part of the package. For those uninitiated into the music of Beth Carvalho, these albums are where you want to start. The studio albums are the most gratifying in terms of straight-through listening experience – they highlight Beth Carvalho fully blossomed into her musical identity, fully in command and focused in her direction, and executing her genius at pulling together so much musicality in the choices of compositions and musicians. They each deserve their own individual write-ups, which is part of the problem with boxsets — they can be daunting to listen to, and even more daunting to write about. I may share these individual with audio from their original vinyl pressings, and share some more thoughts there. Likewise you can find these albums posted on some of the ‘usual suspects’ like Loronix or jthymekind. Just a brief mention here, however, that the album ‘Pandeiro e Viola’ is a bit of a disappointment compared to the other two and falls in the category of “contractual obligation album,” as she had already been lost by Tapecar to RCA Records but still owed them an album. It shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, obviously, and contains some great interpretations of sambas old and new — I particularly like the juxtaposition of the classic Noel Rosa tune “Onde está a honestidade” with Chico Buarque’s “Gota d’Agua.” But overall the album lacks the passion Beth brings to those first two long players, and there are no tunes that give me goosebumps like “Tesoura cega” (from ‘Pra Seu Governo”), a song so perfect it deserves an entire blog post all to itself, or pretty much ALL of her phenomenal first “Canto Pra Um Novo Dia.”

Now on to the mother-load of rarities that will attract the majority of listeners who already know her album material, the two discs called “As Primerias Andanças,” one dedicated to the decade of the 1960s, the second covering 1970 – 75.

The first disc is stylistically all over the place and, honestly, a bit messy. As off-putting as this disc is on first listen, the material is brought into focus by the truly great liner notes by Marcelo Fróes, some of which is based on interviews Beth gave exclusively for this boxset. They trace her career beginning with her unassuming middle-class life as a young guitar instructor who was persuaded to appear performing on television, soon recorded a single (the flipside of which was a song given to her by Roberto Menescal and Ronôldo Boscoli, “Pra Quem Morreu de Amor”), and from there took off into a dozen different directions. In a time period when the clique-ish cohort of bossa nova was breaking up and fragmenting, Beth moved through a variety of musical circles and personalities, reflected in the impressive variety of names that appear in the songwriting credits on these two discs: the aforemention Menescal/Boscoli, the brothers Valle, Arthur Verocai, Danilo Caymmi, Nelson Motta, Paulinho Tapajós, Milton Nascimento, Antonio Adolfo & Tibério Gaspar, Carlos Lyra & Chico Buarque, and of course – as she transformed into a reigning queen of samba during the 1970s – composers like Paulinho da Viola and especially her mentor Nelson Cavaquinho and his partner Guillherme de Brito.

This first of the two discs sheds a lot of insight into Beth Carvalho’s trajectory as an artist and musician. They flesh out the lacunas in the formation of the deity known as Beth Carvalho providing evidence of what we already knew: Beth Carvalho was born to sing roots-driven samba of the bars and botequins, backed by acoustic instruments and percussion. However, the music industry, and Beth herself, took a while to figure that out. As Beth describes in the liner notes, she felt that she was living in two parallel universes during the 60s: one in which she was surrounded by older sambistas of the velha guarda like Cartola on her excursions into Mangueira’s activities, and another where she was surrounded by her peers of her own age. Which goes far in explaining why the first disc — comprised mostly of rare singles and contributions to albums released in conjuction with the Festivals of Song that dominated Brazilian television and middle-class youth culture at the time — have Beth singing bossa nova, samba canção, jovem guarda, jazz samba, maybe a bit of música engajada.. There is plenty of good music here but it is kind of a jolt for those who are familiar with Beth as she into prominence in the next decade, even more so than the first time I heard her album “Andança.”

A time-out here to talk about some technical issues. If Discobertas is going to continue catering to the relatively specialized, restricted market of collectors who want access to precious unreleased material, rarities, and songs from festivals and TV performances that have long seemed AWOL or missing-in-aciton — they *really* need to start putting more emphasis on AUDIO QUALITY. The first two tracks on ‘Primeiras Andanças – Vol. 1’ sound like low-quality mp3s .( In fact, if you put them in any number of software applications that analyze the full-spectrum of audio frequencies, you will be given a “false positive” saying that these ARE mp3’s…) Other tracks were obviously transferred from vinyl and sound rather dubiously processed; others may have come from second or third generations of master tapes. Why all the guesswork? Because Discobertas seems to have their sites to be the Anit-Charles Gavin of reissues: they give NO information on sources, their limitations or their strengths. Gavin usually provides details like the type of equipment and software used to remaster the releases he has done or supervised. It is almost as if Discobertas just doesn’t want us to, um, *discover* these facts. Why does the song “Contraste”, from the LP “Musicanossa: O Som e o Tempo” sound like it was definitely sourced from vinyl (there are some clips and pops that anyone with a basic waveform editor could have removed, by the way..), while the next two tracks from the SAME ALBUM sound sparkling and new, as if they came from, let’s just say, the master tapes. “

Viola Enluarada”, from the Brothers Valle, is probably the most beautiful track on this first disc and personally one of my two personal treasured surprises in the box (the other being, “A Velha Porta” on the second disc). Other highlights include the oddity of a frevo written by Arthur Verocai and Arnoldo Medeiras (‘Domingo antigo’) and the even odder “Cavaleiro Andante” a duet with Taiguara which appears to be about extra-terrestrials and/or nuclear holocaust paranoia and critiques of capitalism. This is probably the only time you will hear Beth singing lyrics as strange as

“”Atenção! Atenção! Atenção! Comunicar!
Produção, produzir, consumir, comunicar,
Construir, destruir, dominar!
Computador eletro-nuclear
Computador eletro-nuclear”

Two more diamonds are the festival-album version of the gorgeous tune “Andança” which has a different mix but sounds like essentially the same studio take as what would appear on the album a the following year, as well her singing an early Milton Nascimento/Fernando Brandt tune, “Sentinela”, taken directly from the “Andança” album. The song features Milton on acoustic guitar, but unfortunately only The Golden Boys accompanying her on vocals. I would have paid extra to hear the two of the performing this as a duet.

The tracks on the next disc continues the pattern of using material culled from a variety of singles and album cuts that were recorded for telenovelas, music festivals, radio broadcasts (like the Project Minerva radio series, which has now also been reissued by Discobertas), and some of the carnaval-season releases like the ‘Samba de Enredo’ albums that would appear every year in the 70s. On this second rarities disc, we hear things slowly evolving stylistically. Opening with some narcissistic pop music of youth celebrating itself for having discovered, um, itself, and bringing in a new age of something or other, in Taiguara’s “Geração 70”. This rather fluffy piece is followed by a truly bad-ass tune “A Velha Porta” with the female backing ensemble ‘As Gatas’. It’s also a post-jovem guarda, Tropicálista-informed pop song and probably the only time you will ever hear Beth let loose with a “oooh-whoa-whoa, hey hey hey hey…” If your not enjoying this song by the 2-minute mark, then you couldn’t find a hook in a meat locker.

“Sem Rumo e Sem Destino” is a wonderfully dreamy, psychedelic song released as a single from a film, “Memôrias de Um Gigolô.” The sweeping, hazy majesty of the tune has a lot to do with the fact that it was arranged by one Antônio Adolfo, and written by him with Tibério Gaspar (who would one day introduce Tim Maia to the Cultura Racional movement). The following tune, “Minhas Tardes de Sol” sounds like it just may have been influenced by (Sir) Paul McCartney, and thus it is needless to say that it is horrible and unlistenable fluff. We then get treated to both sides of a single recorded with Som Três and Milton Miranda at the production helm. The second of these, “Só Quero Ver,” is the most straight-up samba we have heard yet in these rarities, but stylistically Beth is very much working in the style of Elza Soares here. This is followed by a tune where she is working very much in the style of Clara Nunes – ‘Rio Grande do Sul na Festa do Rei Fôrro”with its celebration of candomblé, is a great song. From a single in 1972 (what was on the flip-side??), it bears listening to and thinking about closely and I am apt to change my opinion every time I play it (and I reserve that right!). Vocally, Beth’s voice sounds very relaxed and is taking on the style of phrasing and dynamics that would characterize her work from this point on, but the instrumentation and something about the *attitude* of the song’s execution demonstrates that she is still moving somewhat freely between the extant strains of samba and not laying claim to any particular territory yet. “A Mais Querida” — sound quality, what the FUCK has happened here — another terribly vinyl transfer. Apparently Disbortas only aquired the *rights* to the songs from Tapecar, not the tapes, which apparently gives them the RIGHT to mangle the hell out of the audio. I could teach the twelve-year old who lives two doors down the street from me, a smart kid who is pretty quick with a computer, how to restore audio from scratchy vinyl better than Discobertas has done. I could give any reader of this blog a quick, 10-step tutorial on how to clean up a record with basic practices that nobody seems to be aware of over at that label. These two songs from 1973 are pivotal and important in Beth’s career, coming right around the time of her first LP in this style. Too bad they sound like total shit. The following songs, from Carnaval-season compilations, are all wonderful, and totally dominated by “Meu Perdão” written by her mentor and spiritual father, Nelson Cavaquinho. The last two tracks are interesting as anomalies, with Beth well into her “Queen of the Samba Revival” stage but choosing to cover two classics associated with Portela stalwart, Paulinho da Viola ‘Rosa de Ouro” and “Foi um rio que passou em minha vida”. Both taken at a quick tempo, they are from the Radio Minerva sessions, which up until this year of 2011 have only been available on their original vinyl releases. Let me tell you as a collector — these albums are not *that* difficult or impossible to find if you are willing to spend a modest amount of money: WHY THEN, do these two tracks sound like they taken from a beaten-up copy found in the engineer’s closet?? For fuck’s sake, if you are going to go through the trouble to undertake a project like this – take your time, and do it right.

In a musical marketplace where a lot of bullshit career-boxsets have been released on major labels in Brazil, ones that only present the main albums by an artist (most of them already available to some degree) with no rarities included, this simple, focused box by Discobertas is a breath of fresh air. By and large it is worth every penny on account of the rarities included, the liner notes, sharp graphic design and presentation. However (not to keep flogging a dead horse) its weak point is the audio quality, especially on the rarities but also on the main LPs. A newspaper review I read claimed this box is an improvement to the original vinyl which (according to his unnamed source) had the low frequencies tapered off. I think that reviewer either needs to buy a different turntable that produces low frequencies better, or perhaps pick up other copies of the original LPs. Tapecar’s problem was most definitely NOT one of mixing or mastering – all of the studio albums I have from them sound fine, even great — but perhaps of *consistency* and quality-control in the pressing of vinyl records. Petroleum shortfalls and the oil crises were making themselves felt as Tapecar got going, and if this critique about inconsistent quality applies to the huge labels that had dominated the Brazilian record industry for decades (Odeon, Philips) and were now putting out an inferior product than a decade earlier, then such a critique would be even more applicable to small label like Tapecar. I have multiple copies of some of Beth’s LPs on both Tapecar and RCA — and some of them just sound better than others. Buying Brazilian vinyl from the 1970s is a crapshoot – you may find a disc from 1974 that appears practically brand new, only to take it home and be greeted by all manner of awful noise, extreme warps in the vinyl, or other annoyances. Whereas you can pick up a visually scratched and played-to-death Wilson Simonal album from 1965 and it will play *perfectly*. So for people who don’t have the patience for vinyl, sure – this collection is a blessing. But it does not necessarily sound “better” than the original releases. And the dubious, frequency-shedding “restoration” applied to the two rarities discs, specifically the material obviously sourced from vinyl, is enough evidence for me to say that I will definitely NOT be shelling out the cash for Discobertas reissue of the Project Minverva radio albums. The price is too high, and (if the tracks included here and on the Elza Soares reissues are any example) the quality too poor, to warrant it. Which is sad, because that radio program is important to Brazil’s cultural patrimony and deserves to be heard. I haven’t yet heard anything from the Ed Lincoln box, and until I get an opinion from a source I trust about such things, I’ll stick with the vinyl for him as well. If all this commentary smacks of overwrought ambiguity, then I’d like to ask the reader how they might evaluate a release that is doing both a great service AND a great disservice to the music fan / researcher / historian / obsessive-compulsive or wherever category you might fit into. Because this box was released with these rarities, there is very little chance that these rarities will see a RE-release any time soon. Therefore, we will have to live with the sub-par “restoration” applied to these songs for probably the next decade at the very least. And then of course, if this box had NOT been released, then very very few people would hear this music at all, since I would probably have to sell a kidney to track down all of the material scattered across the two rarities albums. (I should mention that my kidney’s have seen a lot of abuse and aren’t actually worth all that much, so we’re not talking about tons of cash. Just more than I have access to at the moment).

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Baden Powell – Programa Ensaio (1990) (SESC)

Photobucket

Baden Powell
Programa ENSAIO
Part of “A MÚSICA BRASILEIRA DESTE SÉCULO POR SEUS AUTORES E INTÉRPRETES”
Boxset #2

Originally recording from the Fundação Padre Ancheita for Programa Ensaio in 1991
Directed by Fernando Faro
Released in 2000 by SESC – SP (JCB-0709-021)

1 Voltei(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
2 Revendo o passado (Freire Jr.)
3 Naquele tempo(Benedito Lacerda, Pixinguinha)
4 Palhaço(Washington Fernandes, O. Martins, Nelson Cavaquinho)
5 Minha saudade (João Donato, João Gilberto)
6 Rapaz de bem (Johnny Alf)
7 Samba triste (Baden Powell, Billy Blanco)
8 Deixa (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
9 Tem dó (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
10 O astronauta (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
11 Samba em prelúdio (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
12 Formosa (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
13 Bocoché (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
14 Canto de Yemanjá (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
15 Tristeza e solidão (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
16 Canto de Ossanha (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
17 Canto de capoeira (Folclore)
18 Berimbau( Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)
19 Lapinha (Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
20 Falei e disse (Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)

Beginning sometime in the late 90s, the SESC – São Paulo branch began preparing a series of boxsets. SESC is an arts foundation that is mostly or perhaps entirely state-funded, and thus able to produce live concerts, CDs, books, and videos that are invaluable for the researcher or lover of Brazilian music. For this project, the objective was to collect the audio portion of the programs fillmed for the extinct TV Tupi which ran under the names of ‘Ensaio’ and ‘MPB Especial’ but were both essentially the same program conceived and produced by Fernando Faro, as far as I know. They are famous for the informal atmosphere in which the musicians, individually or with a small group for accompaniment, being interviewed about their lives and careers in between playing songs related to the conversation. Sort of like a musical biography. But the programs were also famous for the oddity that the questions are never heard in the final production — just the answers. Nobody I have talked to in Brazil seems to know why this is, and everyone finds it kind of strange and amusing. I plan to call the SESC office in São Paulo and get to the bottom of it one day.

These boxes were originally released with a fairly large book in each package. The book contained the complete transcripts of the interviews as well as essays about the artists by various authors like Tarik de Souza and Sérgio Cabral. Unfortunately, these books are no longer available, but I was surprised just to learn that the CDs still existed, since they had been described to me as ‘very rare’ when in fact they can still be found.

This is not my favorite disc in the SESC boxes( hell, I haven’t gotten through listening to 25% of the CDs yet, as each box contains on average 12 CDs each) but its very good. Obviously those who understand Portuguese will benefit more from the interview portions, which on this set includes an amusing story of Vinicius de Moraes accusing Baden of plagiarizing Chopin while they were working together, and insisting they wake up his sister in the middle of the night to confirm it. Other than the interviews, Baden’s playing is top-notch, and his singing voice is, well, basically the same as it ever was — at times ‘desafinado’ but somehow perfect for his music. All good stuff with the exception of his performance of ‘Lapinha’ which I find really abrasive and irritating for some reason

I was somewhat surprised to find an actual review of this disc, on the cool site and useful resource ‘Clique Music’:

O violão de Baden Powell influenciou uma geração inteira de instrumentistas, dos anos 60 pra cá. Na entrevista ao programa Ensaio feita em 1990 e reproduzida neste disco da coleção lançada pelo Sesc-SP, Baden traça sua vida e sua carreira em uma hora de música (só voz e violão) e conversa. Muito apropriadamente em se tratando de um músico profissional desde os 15 anos de idade, a memória de Baden se dá através das música. Da infância e adolescência, com influência do pai – o entusiasta de escotismo que tocava violino e lhe deu as primeiras noções de música –, Baden se lembra tocando a valsa Revendo o Passado (Freire Jr) e Naquele Tempo, de Benedito Lacerda e Pixinguinha, aqui numa versão com ecos do espanhol Agustín Barrios (1885-1944), compositor que pontuou os estudos clássicos de Baden. Pixinguinha, ele conheceu na casa do primeiro e grande professor de violão, o lendário Meira (“que me ensinou tudo de violão”) e na Rádio Nacional. Criado em São Cristóvão, Baden também freqüentava a Mangueira, e não esconde sua admiração por Nelson Cavaquinho. Pois aqui está a oportunidade de ouvir o violonista tocando Palhaço, grande sucesso de Nelson na voz de Dalva de Oliveira. Nos anos 50, as lembranças voam para as noitadas da boate Plaza, onde, aos 16 e 17 anos, tocava ao lado de Ed Lincoln, Luiz Eça, Johnny Alf, Tom Jobim (ainda estudante de arquitetura), João Donato, e às vezes esbarrava com um certo “Joãozinho”, que, depois que todos os clientes iam embora, sentava e tocava em seu violão “umas coisas assim, tipo ‘bim bom, bim, bom’”, que mais tarde viriam para revolucionar a música brasileira. “O Plaza foi o início de tudo”, lembra Baden, tocando Minha Saudade (João Donato/João Gilberto), Rapaz de Bem (Johnny Alf) e Samba Triste, seu primeiro sucesso, parceria com Billy Blanco, de uma época em que tocava com Dolores Duran. Um pouco mais tarde, no início dos anos 60, veio a parceria com Vinicius de Moraes. Dessa dupla as histórias são muitas e já conhecidas. Algumas são aqui confirmadas pelo compositor, como a de que, pouco depois de terem se conhecido, Baden foi para a casa de Vinicius fazer uma música e acabou morando lá por quatro meses, quando produziram um quantidade respeitável de obras-primas. Não por acaso, dez das vinte músicas do disco são assinadas pela dupla Baden Powell-Vinicius de Moraes. Há muitas outras boas histórias, como a de que Formosa foi feita com Vinicius em homenagem a uma passageira do trem São Paulo-Rio (que os dois pegaram porque morriam de medo de avião) ou a de que Paulo César Pinheiro, seu parceiro em Lapinha e outros tantos sucessos, morava na casa em São Cristóvão onde Baden havia sido criado.

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