Joyce – Vocals, guitar, arrangements Fernando Leporace – Bass, vocals Tutti Moreno – Drums, percussion Mauro Senise – Flute, saxophones Lize Bravo – Vocals Claudio Guimaraes – Guitar Gilson Peranzzetta – Arrangements Helio Delmiro – Guitar Paulo Guimaraes, Jorginho, Danilo Caymmi – Flute Helvius Vilela – Piano
Producer Jose Milton
Arrangements – Maurício Maestro
The somewhat ufanista groover “Banana” which can also double as a shopping list. This song (and Clareana as well) dates back to earlier sessions she had done with Maurício Maestro that also featured Naná Vasconcelos
It is Easter Monday and that is as good a reason as any for F.Vibes to revive a little. I suppose if you were to compare Joyce (né Joyce Moreno) to anyone in the Anglo-American musical universe, it might be Joni Mitchell. Both are phenomenal songwriters and instrumentalists in a male-dominated field where women are often confined to the roles of vocalist and/or window dressing. Both of them are also quite beautiful women who declined to use their sensuality to sell records. How that may or may not relate to their career paths, which often perched between cult status and superstar, is something I will leave others to ponder. While there is no doubt that Joyce has done quite well for herself, she probably has more name recognition outside her home country, particularly in Europe and Japan where she is something of an ambassador for Brazilian musical sophistication and the style called “hard bossa” that she plays. In Brazil she may be best known for the big hit off this album, Clareana. It was written for her children and ebullient with the nearly manic joys of motherhood, a song that impresses by its loveliness at first but may become a sticking point on later listens. By which I mean your audio player of choice may seem like it’s been dunked in sticky honey or molasses for that 2 minutes and 50 seconds while you wait for the album to move on to more nutritious fare. The album also features a song that would become one of Elis Regina’s last hits in her truncated life, “Essa Mulher”, which (it almost goes without saying ) is performed here by Joyce with less of the wild-eyed intensity that Elis gave to it. Feminina is a milestone in Joyce’s career and has top-notch performances from everyone involved (especially her future husband, Tutti Moreno), and exquisite arrangements from Maurício Maestro. But it also stays in pretty safe territory, exhibiting little of the experimentalism of some of her earlier work. I suppose this is what some critics would then call a more “mature sound,” whatever that means. It is certainly top-shelf MPB in an era when many of the big names of that genre were in a bit of a slump, and has gobs of the excitement and energy of youth that had been bled from some of her contemporaries
I’ve been slacking with posting here on this blog lately, and since this album has been on the “to do list” for years, I’m not quite satisfied with my little summary above. Not that I ever consider these posts to be the final word about anything, but I figure I will feature this interesting take on Feminina found on another blog, which I am including here with full attribution, and without correcting their typos or errors in the Portuguese. Here it goes:
In 1980, Brazil still held some semblance of a military government. Public life was, in some ways free, although one could be sure that the eyes and ears of Big Brother were always near. Strong notions of machismo prevented women from assuming positions of societal power or influence. And the carioca singer, Joyce Silveira Palhano de Jesus released Feminina. The album’s creation was no act of innocence. Joyce’s music had been censored amid Brazil’s tense political situation through out the 1970’s; forcing her to record offshore in Italy and New York. Feminina initially met a similar reception, through its confrontation with political and social authoritarianism, even though the album stabbed at the eye of repression in Brazil without uttering a syllable of contempt. In fact there’s no rancor to be found in her words at all. Rather, Joyce used a far more cunning confrontational device: celebration.
Feminina, with its infusion of samba and jazz into a palate of jubilant traditional folk, celebrates being a woman; as well as being Brazilian. It’s an ode to the souls and the intellect hidden away by failed governments and their over zealous censorship. The quick, merry acoustic guitar of the opening title song warms us to Joyce’s cause. There is the sweetest plea in her voice as she asks “O mao/Me explica/Me ensina/Me diz/O que e feminine (Oh mother/Explain to me/Teach me/Tell me/What is a woman).” All the while flutes and a Latin rhythm section climb and fall like gulls above the ocean. “Banana” and “Aldeia de ogum” continue in this vain with thrilling cascades of Joyce’s vocals and frenetic strum patterns. The album’s centerpiece, however, is the thoroughly enchanting, “Clareana.” Written as a lullaby for her two daughters, (Clara and Ana) the song wisps and soars with Joyce’s idiosyncratic gentleness. It’s easy to imagine Joyce sitting at the side of her daughter’s bed, lightly stroking her hairs telling her, “No sol de manha/Novelo de la/No ventre de mae/Bate o coracao de Clara, Ana (The morning sun/A ball of yarn/In the mother’s womb/It beats like the heart of Clara, Ana).”
Upon the release of Feminina, Joyce was already an accomplished musician, playing in bands since the mid 1970’s and having performed with such stars as Gal Costa and Vinicius de Moaes. To say that she adopted elements of jazz, bossa, samba, and blues into her bare acoustic melodies would be a gross miscue. Instead, she bore these styles into something new. For this reason Feminina, as well as many of her other albums retain a fresh identity; undergoing a perpetual evolution and never aspiring to record anything static and crystalline. In 1985, the moribund military government of Brazil was voted out of power. Democracy returned and Brazilian’s could be left again to collectively determine the course of their country. As a rich culture heritage re-emerged to the world so did the carioca singer, Joyce.
Okay then. Have a listen and see what you think for yourself.
1 “Elizetheana”: Canção de Amor (Chocolate, Elano de Paula) / Nossos Momentos (Haroldo Barbosa, Luís Reis) / Meiga Presença (Paulo Valdez, Otávio de Moraes) / Apelo (Baden Powell, Vinícius de Moraes) / Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Você (Jobim, Moraes) 2 Faxineira Das Canções (Joyce) 3 Operário Padrão (Cesar Brunetti) 4 Cabelos Brancos (Baden Powell, Paulo C. Pinheiro) 5 Voltei (Baden Powell, Paulo C. Pinheiro) 6 Calmaria E Vendaval (Sereno, Nei Lopes) 7 Valsa Derradeira (Gereba e Capinan) 8 Complexo (Wilson Baptista, M. de Oliveira) 9 Vento De Saudade (Jorge Aragão, Sérgio Fonseca) 10 Luz E Esplendor (Walter Queiroz) 11 Felicidade Segundo Eu (Done Ivone Lara, Nei Lopes)
Dolores Duran – Canta Para Você Dançar…
1957 Copacabana CLP 11011
2010 reissue EMI 967873-2
(F. Albano, P. Vento)
2 Por causa de você
(Dolores Duran, Tom Jobim)
(Kurt Feltz, Heinz Gletz)
4 Quem foi?
(Jorge Tavares, Nestor de Holanda)
5 Feiura não é nada
6 Que murmuren
(Ruben Fuentes, Rafael Cardenas)
7 Coisas de mulher
(Dunga, Jair Amorim)
10 Se papai fôsse eleito
11 Mi último fracaso
13 Only you
(A. Rand, B.Ram)
14 Estatuto de boite
Remastered by Luigi Hoffer and Carlos Savalla
Dolores Duran (1930-1959), not only had an unforgettable voice but also composed a lot of her best material. A central figure in the early bossa nova scene, she succumbed to the occupational hazards of the bohemian lifestyle, dying in her sleep from a heart attack at 29 years old after an evening of music, drinking, and barbiturates. Her lamentably short career left an solid recorded legacy but, having left this world so young, she is less celebrated outside Brazil than some of her bossa nova contemporaries who lived long enough to benefit from the global infatuation with the genre. Here is a recording of her singing a song she co-wrote with Tom Jobim, released in 1957 on the LP featured in this post.
But Duran’s professional career reached back before the dawn of bossa to when a nightclub singer had to be able to sing a little of everything and have a broad repertoire. That is reflected in choice of songs included here, which span foxtrots, boleros, rumbas, and of course samba. Stylistic variation blurs into cosmopolitan sophistication too, as you realize that she sings in no less than six languages here. In addition to her native Portuguese, she sings in Italian, Spanish, French, English, and Scat. I don’t speak all these languages and am in no place to judge her
elocution, but as far as music is the language of love I deem Dolores to
have been more than fluent. One fantastic track among these, which I highly recommend for your next dance party, is the French rumba number (how can you go wrong?) “Viens.” The only English song is a rendition of The Platters “Only You.” Here’s some side-by-side listening for you:
Oh and why the hell not, one more for good measure (sorry Ringo!):
I think Dolores’ version carries its weight quite well, and her English is lovely (although a Portuguese rewrite would have made it stand out more, and of course automatically make it more romantic, because it’s a Latin language, yo). Apparently Duran had none other than Ella Fitzgerald in the audience at one of her performances, who complimented her version of “My Funny Valentine.” Man what heady days to have been hanging around the nightclubs of Rio.
The notes assert that the selection is culled from the most popular numbers in her repertoire, tried and tested in clubs, on the radio, at festivals, in films, and wherever else she could perform. I believe it. Everything here is sung with an easy confidence and charm of someone who knows her audience. Her charm is so infectious, and her talent so seemingly effortless. In addition to the collaboration with Jobim above, she also interprets first-rate sambas by the Titulares do Ritmo (“Coisas de Mulher”), and Dunga with Jair Amorim (“Conceição, originally recorded by Gaúcho vocal group Conjunto Farroupilha but immortalized by Cauby Peixoto a year before Dolores’ made her version). There are two tunes penned by Billy Blanco here. The first is “Feiura não é nada” (or “Ugliness ain’t no thang”), a satirical take on vanity, the transformative powers of the cosmetic industry, and its noble fight to eradicate world ugliness. As far as I know the song was written specifically for Dolores to sing, which is the only way it comes off as humorous. Blanco is brilliant but the humor in this song bugs me a little as a write this, but perhaps I am a bit tender on the topic of chauvinist, machista humor lately. Have you seen the guy in the 50’s? Here, have a look at Billy:
It may be just because there is a currently a hedgehog with a hair-weave running as a
candidate for Leader Of The Free World right now, and I’m burned out on
casual sexism, but I don’t think Billy was in any position of aesthetic or sartorial superiority.
There is very little footage of her performing live aside from some scenes in musical chanchada films, but I can imagine her commanding a room with her presence. I also wonder about the impact of her passing on the other rising divas of the day. As young as Dolores was, she was actually five years older than contemporaries like Maysa and Alaíde Costa and, as we know, in young person time that made her, like, way old, dude. Was she a figure that these other singers looked up to, or were they rivals? I suppose I will have to read Rodrigo Faour’s biography to find that out.
Like many successful Long Player collections of the day, this one had a “part two” which I just may share with you in good time. Meanwhile, one last comparison. Here is Cauby Peixoto, before he became the inspiration for Austin Powers, singing “Conceição”, followed by Dolores’ version.