Nara Leão – Liberdade, Liberdade (1966)


Nara Leão, Paulo Autran, Tereza Rachel, Oduvaldo Vianna Filho
LIBERDADE, LIBERDADE
by Flavio Rangel and Millôr Ferndandes

Musical direction by Oscar Castro Neves
with Roberto Nascimento on guitar, Ico Castro Neves on string bass, Carlos Guimarães on flute, and Francisco Araújo on drums.  Vocal chorus comprised of Ângela Menezes, Maísa Sant’Anna, Sônio Márcia Perrone, and Roberto Quartin Pinto.

Released 1966 on Forma.  Recorded by R. Cardoso, produced by Gebara/Quartin.
2013 reissue remastered by Luigi Hoffer and Carlos Savalla
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Hino da Proclamação da República
Marcha da Quarta-Feira de Cinzas
Aruanda
Acertei no milhar
Eu não tenho onde morar
Com que roupa
Estatutos da gafieira
Té o sol raiar
Nobody knos the troubles I’ve seen
If you miss me at the back of the bus
Summertime
Leilão
Zumbi
Jota dos três imrãos
Cara al sol
Rumba la rumba
Marinera
Exatação a Tiradentes
Marcha da Quarta-Feira de Cinzas
Hino da Proclamação da República

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So, I recently got my hands on the new Nara Leão boxset.  I have been working my way through it slowly, savoring it, and it is a lot of stuff.  I’ve decided to share some of the less common offerings  first.  Last week we had the record 5 Na Bossa with Edu Lobo and Tamba Trio.   These week brings something probably more obscure.  Some records are obscure for a good reason.  This is one of them.  It would be hard to find a more tedious piece of heavy-handed mid-60s “engaged” material than this.  All that is missing is a rousing rendition of “L’Internationale” or at least “Kumbaya.”

The Brazilian theater and MPB have long had a symbiotic relationship.  Some day I might try to research and write a book about it.  For now, suffice it to say that in general theater people rub me the wrong way.  Maybe it was the mockery I received in that script-writing class I once took as a teenager, leaving me predisposed to dislike theatre people for the rest of my life.  This isn’t to say that I can’t appreciate a well done performance or the merits of a particular dramaturg or actor.  I just don’t want to end up at the cast party afterwards.  

This stage play features Paulo Autran, who I am sure was a very nice fellow.  I have nothing against him.  A veteran of Shakespeare and Brecht, he at least tries to bring the pathos of both to this production that is very much a product of its times.  A couple of years after starring in this play, Autran would feature in Glauber Rocha’s amazing film Terra Em Transe.  Scripted and directed by Flávio Rangel and Millôr Fernandes, “Liberdade, Liberdade” is historically important for being one of the first examples of ‘protest theatre’ in Brazil when it debuted in 1965, a year after the military coup but with the worst yet to come.  In fact by the time this record came out in ’66 it was prohibited to perform it on stage.  A great deal of the play is a patchwork of excerpts from such global freethinkers as Socrates, Martin Luther King, and Jesus. Subtlety is not its strong suit.  I am not going to attempt a critical appraisal on whether the play succeeds or fails at its aims, how so or in what measures, because ultimately the whole thing is just very dull.  Even the attempts at humor fail to actually lighten things up and seem kind of pedantic.  The songs included amidst the lefty soap boxing are rarely played or sung for more than a single verse and chorus.  So unlike Nara Leão’s similar hybrid of theatre and ‘música engajada’, the “Show Opinão”, this one just doesn’t hold up well to multiple listens.  It doesn’t help things that for the CD edition, no attempt to index tracks was made, meaning we have one continuous audio track of 48 minutes.  So forget just trying to find the musical snippets.  This is all a bigger shame because there are some killer compositions strewn about from the likes of Noel Rosa, Baden Powell, Vinicius, Caymmi, Billy Blanco, Carlos Lyra and others.   The music seems to have been performed off-mic too and comes out rather muffled.  (One odd technical note, the album jacket – at least the one featured on the reissue – lists this as a mono recording but it is actually in stereo, albeit mostly just occasional hard panning.)      

If you are dying to hear Nara Leão sing in English or can’t wait for Brazilian interpretations of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen,” then this album tem sua cara, you need look no further.  Actually the (partial) rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime” is pretty cool.

If you are researching that tumultuous period between the military coup of March 31, 1964 and the implementation of the AI-5 (Institutional Act Number 5) in ’67, this record will probably be of great interest to you.  If you are tuning in to hear the inimitable Nara Leão, it will likely be a footnote.

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In response to Le Porc Rouge’s question about the label Forma (below in the comments section, where everyone should stop in for a visit now and then),  I attempted to answer in the comments but failed due to size constraints.  I have updated this post with the following information.  My response, written as a comment directly to him:

Porco, I didn’t really know anything about the label either, other than that the amazing Moacir Santos’ “Coisas” is stupidly rare in Brazil even on CD.  But I did some searching for you and found a decent succinct write-up and what appears to be a nearly complete discography.  I took the liberdade of doing a quick free translation .. Hell if I had more of these titles, one of us should start a discog.page with credit to this guy.  His blog post is HERE.   The head honcho Roberto Quartin also has an entry at the Dicionário Cravo Albin which is probably the best online resource for Brazilian music in general.  But this guy Rodrigo’s post is more succinct (it’s too bad he didn’t keep blogging).  Here it goes:

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Whenever
someone proposes to study the album covers of Brazilian music from the decade
of the 1960s, they prefer to talk about the label Elenco of Aloysio de
Oliveira, and forget about Forma.  Both
record labels played an important part in the modernization of Brazilian music,
and were acquired by Phonogram (later Polygram, today Universal) in the
following decade.

Forma was
created in 1963 by a young carioca named Roberto Quartin (1943-2004) in
parternship with Wadi Gebara.  Until
1969, the label released more than twenty albums, some of which became historic
for the highly experimental level of their production and the attention to
technical detail on the records.  It was
also responsible for debuting albums by great talents in our music, like
Quarteto Em Cy, Eumir Deodato, and Victor Assis Brasil. 

On the 3rd
of February 1965, the newspaper Folha de São Paulo published the following
note:

At the end
of 1964, a new recording company started up in Brazil with the objective to
accelerate the technical advance of Brazilian music that’s been happening in
recent years.  Its name is Forma, its
base is Rio de Janeiro, and its owner is Roberto Quartin.  In the pursuit of the above mission, the
label sought to put together a stable of top artists, to the point that they
adopted the slogan: “The representatives)of Brazilian music are in top Form!”  But these aces could be both established
artists or new faces, people who have never before recorded.  Hence the first releases on Forma are discs that
showcase the already well-known Eumir Deodato and Luís Carlos Vinhas, but also
draw our attention to an excellent new find: 
the Quarteto em Cy.

In the
following decade, Forma continued its activity for a few years under the
administration of Phonogram.  It released
the first recordings of Gonzaguinha and Ivan Lins, products of the university
song festivals at the beginning of the 70s. 
Quartin relocated to the United States and continued his work as one of
the best researchers of the career of Frank Sinatra, even becoming his personal
friend, with authorization to produce albums of unreleased material.

In his last
years of life Quartin was committed, along with Universal, to the reissue and
remastering for CD of Forma’s complete catalog.  
(written by Rodrigo Cunha)

LPs released by Forma

1964 – “Inútil Paisagem”, Eumir Deodato (FM-1)
1964 – “Novas Estruturas”, Luis Carlos Vinhas (FM-2)
1964 – “Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Sérgio Ricardo (FM-3)
1964 – “Quarteto em Cy”, Quarteto em Cy (FM-4)
1964 – “Esse Mundo É Meu – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Sérgio Ricardo e Lindolfo Gaya (FM-5)
1965 – “Bossatrês em Forma!”, Bossa Três (FM-6)
1965 – “Chico Fim-de-Noite Apresenta Chico Feitosa”, Chico Feitosa (FM-7)
1965 – “Coisas”, Moacir Santos (FM-8)
1965 – “Ana Margarida”, Ana Margariba (FM-9)
1966 – “Som Definitivo”, Quarteto em Cy e Tamba Trio (FM-10)
1966 – “Forma ’65”, Diversos (FM-11)
1966 – “Liberdade Liberdade, de Flávio Rangel e Millôr Fernandes”, Nara Leão (FM-12)
1966 – “Dulce”, Dulce Nunes (FM-13)
1966 – “Os Afro-Sambas de Baden e Vinicius”, Baden Powell e Quarteto em Cy (FM-16)
1966 – “Desenhos”, Victor Assis Brasil (FM-17)
1966 – “Tempo Feliz”, Baden Powell e Maurício Einhorn (100VDL)
1966 – “Quinteto Villa-Lobos”, Quinteto Villa-Lobos (101VDL)
1966 – “A Viagem”, Mitchell e Ruff (102VDL)
1966 – “Rosinha de Valença Ao Vivo”, Rosinha de Valença (103VDL)
1966 – “Forma 66”, Diversos (104VDL)
1966 – “Vinicius: Poesia e Canção Vol. I”, Vinicius de Moraes (105VDL)
1966 – “Vinicius: Poesia e Canção Vol. II”, Vinicius de Moraes (106VDL)
1968 – “O Violão É… Tapajós”, Sebastião Tapajós (107VDL)
1968 – “Musicanossa”, Diversos (108VDL)
1968 – “O Conjunto de Roberto Menescal”, Roberto Menescal (VDL109)
1968 – “Samba do Escritor”, Dulce Nunes (VDL110)
1969 – “Brasil Ano 2000 – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Rogério Duprat (VDL112)
1969 – “O Avarento, de Molière”, Procópio Ferreira (VDL113)
1969 – “Sebastião Tapajós e Sua Guitarra Cósmica”, Sebastião Tapajós (VDL114)
1969 – “Big Parada”, Orquestra Tropical (VDL115)
1970 – “Terço”, O Terço (VDL116)
1970 – “Agora”, Ivan Lins (VDL117)
1971 – “Som Livre Exportação”, Diversos (VDL118)
1971 – “Deixa o Trem Seguir”, Ivan Lins (VDL119)
1971 – “Som Livre Exportação Nº 2”, Diversos (FE1019)
1971 – “Muita Zorra! ou São Coisas que Glorificam a Sensibilidade Atual”, Trio Mocotó (FE1020)

Nara Leão, Edu Lobo, Tamba Trio – 5 Na Bossa (1965)

01

5 NA BOSSA
Edu Lobo / Nara Leão / Tamba Trio
1965 Philips 632.769 L
2013 Remaster


1 – Carcará  (José Cândido, João do Vale)   
2 – Reza  (Ruy Guerra, Edu Lobo)   
3 – O trem atrasou  (Paquito, Vilarinho, Estanislau Silva)   
4 – Zambi  (Edu Lobo, Vinicius de Moraes)   
5 – Consolação  (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)   
6 – Aleluia  (Ruy Guerra, Edu Lobo)   
7 – Cicatriz  (Zé Keti, Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)   
8 – Estatuinha  (Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Edu Lobo)   
9 – Minha história  (Raymundo Evangelista, João do Vale)   
10 – O morro não tem vez (Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)   

Recorded live at the Paramount Theater, São Paulo

Remastered by Luigi Hoffer and Carlos Savalla at Digital Mastering Solutions

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Well there isn’t a tremendous amount to say about this brief live record.  Solid performances from everyone involved, although the recording itself is less than prestine and seems to have been made worse by questionable remastering that now makes the album feature clipped samples and very obvious noise reduction artifacts… Why do I keep buying CDs just to hear myself complain when I know they’ll screw them up?  Well this otherwise pretty rare so there’s one reason.

Tamba Trio sounds fantastic, as usual, and the two cuts they have to themselves here are nice and long showcases.  Nara is a bit uneven, unfortunately.  Her imperfect intonation was always part of her charm, but in this live setting – inside a large auditorium-style theater and no stage monitors (being 1965) – her pitch is more off than usual.  In fact “Cicatriz,” a song that goes outside her vocal range to begin with, is a downright painful listen.  She sounds excellent singing with Edu Lobo on Aleluia, though.  Sr. Lobo just celebrated his 70th birthday, so it’s a particularly good time to enjoy this rare live recording of him in his youth.  The liner notes thank Aloysio de Oliveira (the man behind Elenco) for loaning him out for this recording.  He sings one of my favorite compositions of his too, “Reza.”

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Various Artists – Bossa Nova: Sua História, Sua Gente (1975)

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Bossa Nova Sua Historia Sua Gente
Philips / Polygram
Original release 1975
CD reissue, unknown date

DISC 1

01 – Sofrer é da Vida – Mario Reis
02 – Você – Dick Farney e Norma Bengel
03 – Nós e o Mar – Doris Monteiro
04 – Só Danço Samba – Donato e Seu Trio
05 – Mocinho Bonito – Billy Blanco
06 – Samba do Avião – Cariocas
07 – Rio – Lucio Alves
08 – As Praias Desertas – Elizete Cardoso
09 – Último Canto – Agostinho dos Santos
10 – Influência do Jazz – Leny Andrade
11 – Minha Saudade – Tamba Trio
12 – Por Toda Minha Vida – Lenita Bruno
13 – Tristeza de Nós Dois – Luiz Eca
14 – Tem Mais Samba – Quarteto em Cy
15 – Boranda – Edu Lobo & Tamba Trio
16 – Berimbau – Baden Powell
17 – The Girl From Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto
18 – Carta ao Tom 74 – Vinícius e Toquinho

DISC 2

01 – Samba da Pergunta – João Gilberto
02 – Samba de Verão – Roberto Menescal e Seu Conjunto
03 – Demais – Maysa
04 – Folha de Papel – Sergio Ricardo
05 – Chora Tua Tristeza – Conj Oscar Castro Neves
06 – Ao Amigo Tom – Claudette Soares
07 – Você e Eu – Sylvia Telles
08 – Coisa Mais Linda – Carlos Lyra
09 – Ela é Carioca – Sergio Mendes e Bossa Trio
10 – Maria Bonita – Nara Leão
11 – Upa Neguinho – Lennie Dale
12 – Que Maravilha – Zimbo Trio
13 – De Palavra em Palavra – Mpb4
14 – Chuva – Os Gatos
15 – Tema do Boneca de Palha – Rosinha de Valença
16 – Olha Maria – Chico Buarque
17 – So Tinha de Ser com Você – Elis & Tom
18 – Ana Luiza – Tom Jobim



There are a lot of bossa nova compilations out there, and a lot of them are pretty shitty.  This one is a good enough listen, though not nearly as
Earth-shaking as some of the reviews I’ve seen on the internet might indicate.   In fact, T. “Strokin”Jurek must have a different record than the one I
have – not only does it not feature any tracks by Jorge Ben as he claims (rather, it has a medley of Ben songs performed by Zimbo Trio, however, which is a big
difference), but it also does NOT contain “credits and complete song details” in any way.  What my copy has is an essay-style account of bossa nova with information on key composers, artists, producers and arrangers.  Not song credits.  Maybe Jurek has a different edition, or maybe he doesn’t read or speak Portuguese?  If so he should probably stop being paid to write reviews of anthological Brazilian releases. What Jurek also seems ignorant of is that astute fans of this music don’t gripe about compilations like this because they are fond of
“nit picking.” Usually they are motivated for a love of music that exceeds the profit motive of the companies that put it out.  A case in point can usually be found in any compilation claiming to represent an entire musical movement, such as this one.  Even in the 1960s, the Brazilian recording industry was consolidated in very few hands, with each label being pretty equally possessive of its own artists and covetous of its neighbors.  As you will see, that has resulted in some misleading attempts to anthologize.

This collection was originally released as a triple-LP box with an oversized booklet.  I had both the vinyl and CD and for once we are at least lucky to have a CD booklet that replicates
the info in the original vinyl down to the letter.  Unfortunately that info is still kind of vague on the sort of info fans want, such as the provenance of the tracks – the dates, the records they came from, who may have played on them – in fact just the sort of info that Jurek claims comes with this set but does not.   It’s my feeling this is a pretty deliberate choice.  Philips didn’t even
exist as a discrete record label during the heydey of bossa nova, but rather took over what had been CBD (Companhia Brasileira dos Discos) and eventually acquired the Elenco label and their catalog in the early 70s.  So this compilation is missing all kinds of crucial stuff released by the EMI-Odeon and RGE labels, for example.  To make things more confusing, some of the artists associated with those labels appear here on selections recorded after they had signed contracts with Philips (João Gilberto, Chico Buarque, Zimbo Trio).  They are great songs, but these artists’ canonical contributions to bossa nova are found on their first few records, and not the ones recorded for Phillips.

What this compilation does do really well is fill in gaps in the fan’s knowledge of artists either within bossa nova or who were seminal and influential on its formation (even if some of them – like Dick Farney – are once again featured in post-1970 contexts).  A lot of material, however, isn’t actually bossa nova but samba canção, a genre that provided a lot of the roots, repertoire, and inspiration for bossa nova but which is distinct enough that its progenitors were initially scandalized by the deviations in rhythms and intervals that the kids brought to the block.  Although it’s not clear how much is intentional and how much is a product of the contractual shenanigans on who has rights to what songs, this record ends up being a cool compilation that manages to
avoid repeating the cliched representations of bossa nova (with the exception fo Girl From Ipanema), even at the expense of omitting most of its key compositions and recordings.
Extra points for including tracks from Os Cariocas, Carlos Lyra, Agostinho dos Santos, US expatriat Lennie Dale, Silvia Telles, and Billy Blanco.

 

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Herbie Mann – Live at Newport (1963)

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I know there are quite a few people waiting for me to finish up the Marcos Valle series, but I’ve been rather busy lately. But a whole week without a blog post is just unconscionable, so here’s a quick one (while he’s away).

Herbie Mann still doesn’t get enough credit for his role in helping spread the seeds of musical cross-fertilization between the US and Brazil, nor for the amount of great players that passed through the ranks of his various ensembles. My explanation for this lack of respect hinges on the fact that by the late sixties Herbie would become obsessed with taking his shirt off for every photo op, bearing his hairy pectorals while blowing madly on his flute. And also committing the venial jazz sin of flirting too much with commercialism for the jazz critics, embracing soul, R&B, funk, rock, and disco at one time or another.

This is a very fine set of music from Herbie with his shirt still on, and a lineup that boasts Dave Pike, Willie Bobo and Patato Valdez. From Bennie Goodman to Luis Bonfa, there really isn’t a dull moment. And a ripping bossa-bop treatment of “Desafinado” is all on its own enough to make this record worth having. The solos from Herbie and Dave Pike are a world apart from the many sleepier, starchier American jazz appropriations of bossa nova’s own appropriations of American jazz. It’s as if the original Jobim/Mendonça song had a zipper, and Herbie Mann pulled the zipper all the way down, pushed the fabric inside out, stuffed it with a simulacrum of Dizzy Gillespie, pulled the zipper back up, and gave it to us all on Christmas day. Just like if you go far enough to the east you end up in the west eventually, bossa nova’s whitening of samba is baptized into Black American music and Latin Jazz by a Jew from Brooklyn.

Oh, and lots of folks are fond of pointing out that this live version of `Garota de Ipanema` (The Girl from Ipanema)was actually recorded before the Getz/Giblerto version had been released (although that version *had* been recorded by the time of the concert). Pretty cool, eh?

Elsewhere, Willie Bobo and Patato tear it up on the timbales and congas. Like they always do. I hope this whets your appetite for more from the family of Mann as I have quite a bit I’ve been meaning to share someday (including the oddball albums with Sonny Sharrock and Roy Ayers). This 2001 reissue on Wounded Bird has pretty decent sound too.

Marcos Valle – Garra (1971)

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GARRA
Marcos Valle
1971 on Odeon (MOFB 3683)

1 Jesus meu Rei
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Com mais de 30
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Garra
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
4 Black is beautiful
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
5 Ao amigo Tom
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Osmar Milito, Marcos Valle)
6 Paz e futebol
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Que bandeira
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Máriozinho Rocha, Marcos Valle)
8 Wanda Vidal
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 Minha voz virá do sol da América
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
10 Vinte e seis anos de vida normal
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 O cafona
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

———-
bonus tracks 2011

12. Com mais de 30 (versao instrumental)
13. Garra (versao instrumental em sol)
14. Black is beautiful (alternate version instrumental)
15. Que bandeira (alternate version instrumental)
16. Que bandeira (instrumental mix)
17. Wanda Vida (instrumental mix)
Marcos Valle – vocals and piano
Dom Salvador – piano and organ
Marizinha – vocal on Black is Beautiful
Geraldo Vaspar – acoustic guitar, orchestrations on 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8
Orlando Silveira – orchestrations 9, 10
Cesar Camargo mariano – orchestration on 6

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical direction by Lindolfo Gaya
Assisten producer – Mariozinho Rocha

2011 reissue supervised by Charles Gavin
Reamstered by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master, RJ

Another classic early 70s album from Marcos Valle, But, this album took a little while to grow on me. Perhaps because, when I’m obsessively-compulsively collecting, consuming, and divulging music, I am busy worshiping the Dark One, Satanáis, Beelzebub, Lucifer, or Jimmy Witherspoon – I am a little put off by the opening track on this one, ‘Jesus Meu Rei.’ On the other hand, there is an apocryphal and even millenarian streak to a lot of the content on this album. Satan may have granted me the power to acquire gluttunous amounts of music over the years, but far be if from me to question The Brothers Valle if their faith is strong. It’s a gorgeous baroque pop tune with whispy harpsichord and strummy acoustic guitar and very, um, “churchy” organ from none other than Dom Salvador. Then tuning into the lyrics and I am surprised, in spite of knowing that I shouldn’t be, of Paulo Sérgios genius. In its hymnal piety the song also calls on Jesus to look around at how the world has changed, and ambiguous lines that can either be a lament of world gone down the wrong path, or perhaps a plea to some type of moral relativity adn realism (“nada e ninguem / sabe o que é mal / e o que é bem / Jesus meu rei / fazendo lei / Passa seu tempo real”). A chorus of voices that’s built since the first verse swells into the transcendent bridge and the softly provocative lines:

De repente, achou a verdade / Informou ao seu ministério / Que o mistério estava na vida / Vida lá fora / Fora dali

Era só olhar para o mundo / Ver a gente amando na grama / E as crianças pelo jardim Escorrendo pra mãe, pro pai // Pro paísFor the non-Lusophile, I regret to inform you that are missing out on quite a bit here and subtle wordplay that translation just can’t get at. Listen to how well the lyrics, vocals, and arrangments hang together and reinforce each other.

When I first played this album I didn’t quite know what to thing of it. But since then I’ve decided this may be the “sleeper” in the whole batch of Marcos’s 1970s output, a near perfect album. In his liner notes Marcos admits to his inability to classify these songs: “sambas-pop-bossa-jazz”, he calls them, but there is definitely some pós-Tropicália rock here too.

“Com mais de trinta” begins by playing with the trendy phrase of the late 60s and early 70s, “Never trust anyone over 30,” after which Paulo gives us a hold LOT of reasons not to trust the number 30. Then seemingly leaving the whole idea of 30 in the dust as the narrator contemplates the things in life he dreams about but never does, his sensation of dislocation in time and space, “Passo a passo, faço mais um traço”.. This is deceptively simple, unadorned lyricism. Bereft of the layered complexity of Chico Buarque’s genius work, or unburdened by the density of Caetano Veloso’s beguiling forays into solipsism, Paulo Sérgio seems to have had a way of saying speaking in a very simple way about very complex ideas. So simply and directly that might leave you utterly unstruck and unconcinved when first encountered. There is a clean symetrical beauty to the words, Marcos’ vocal delivery, and the production and arrangements. When the truth of this hit me, the parts of this album that had seemed like a bit of a confused mess became utterly uncluttered. Paulo had a way of setting words to Marcos’ musical ideas that makes them one of the classic telekinetic songwriting teams. And Paulo had a way of churning out pointed, sardonic, and nuanced critiques of all manner of societal patterns, preconceptions, of issues contemporary and contextual and quasi-eternal, without ever succumbing to bitterness or hipster irony, holding on to his own brand of humanist optimism.

The title track is just plain weird, with Marcos’s out-of-breath ‘ha ha’ sounding completely bizarre in one of his brother’s stranger lyrics concoctions of urban dislocation, ambition, alienation. Musically it’s infectiously punchy in a soft painted-velvet arrangement of drums grooving in the left channel, utterly unhurried and laid-back; Dom Salvador laying down percussive bursts of organ and swells of Hammond vibrato at the end of certain measures; breaks at the ends of the chorus where suddenly flutes and violins sneak their way. Then a verse of Marcos singing scatlike nonsense syllables. Once again, sonically it is a pastiche of elements that probably shouldn’t be thrown together and yet couldn’t sound more natural (and, once again, Paulo Sérgio manages a lyrical mimesis). The alternate version here, at a faster tempo and in different key, sheds light on the creative process and makes me even more impressed with the final version. Its not that the two are terribly different in structure or execution, but the album take is much more “in the pocket.”

The album continues to challenge the listener, to greater or lesser success or failure. “Black Is Beautiful” almost feels like they are (as the British would say) ‘having a go’ at the listener with a playful send-up of Afrocentric pride; then I think to myself, no, they are totally sincere, just hopelessly clumsy and even naive about it. From a sociohistorical context, in Brazil or in the US where the phrase “Black is beautiful” was born, there is so much that is just WRONG with this tune that I wouldn’t know where to start. I still can’t honestly say what they were thinking.. This album has plenty of The Brother’s Valle blue-eyed soul on it, but this song has enough exaggerated torch-song drama to it that I just can’t take it too seriously But it’s also too damn intriguing for me to leave it at face value, and its kind of, well, a bit hilarious:

“Hoje cedo na Rua do Ouvidor // Early today on Ouvidor Street
Quantos louras horríveis eu vi // I saw so many horrible blondes
Eu quero uma dama de cor // I want a lady of color
Uma deusa do Congo ou daqui // A goddess from the Congo or from here
(Que se integre no meu sangue europeu) // To blend with my European blood

Black is beautiful (2x)
Black beauty is so peaceful
I wanna a black
So beautiful”

If this is sardonic, then it may be complex commentary on the foundational myths of Brazilian mestizagem (race-making, and often coerced in the master-slave relationship) as the roots of an alleged “racial democracy” that has never existed in reality. Or, perhaps its just completely silly drivel from two blond-haired blue-eyed surfista beach bums. In which case, its still hard to be mad at these guys. It’s just too damn honest and awkward, and the broken English (is this intentional? These guys spent two years living in the States…) only adds to the sense that somebody is mocking somebody else about…something.

Amigo Tom… At this time Tom Jobim had spent quite a few years in the US recording with the likes of Frank Sinatra and producer Creed Taylor (for his CPI label). This song is a simple `welcome home’, things weren’t the same without you, please don’t leave again, yes things have changed here but it will all be okay in the end.. The melody line and chordal structure is a worthy homage to the master of bossa nova.

“Paz e futebol” takes up the trope of Brazilian culture a culmination of tropical laziness and a Lusitanian aversion towards work, a critique strongly linked to Anglo-Saxon prejudices against Brazil but just as equally bought into by Brazil’s upper class who looks to Europe (or the US) as their model for “civilzation”. This is a gentle rebuttle without an exclamation point to punctuate its rancor. “Que bandeira” is probably just a song of thwarted, spurned love and the misunderstandings in changing relationships. Or maybe it’s a coded critique of the military dictatorship that the censor`s missed because they thought Marcos and Paulo were harmless pothead surfers at this point.. “Wanda Vidal” is lyrically like the opening of some unwritten mystery novel, but was actually on the soundtrack to a telenovela (Os Ossos do Barão) and musically driven by heavily strummed acoustic guitar, bossa-rock drums, chunks of organ chords and piano, congas.. Apparently this song has some cult status in Europe and the US as Madlib apparently did a remix of it. The following tune “Minha voz vira do sol de América” is, in spite of its possibly megalomaniac title, an understated instrumental based around Marcos or Dom Salvador’s piano and Veraldo Gaspar’s lush arrangement, with a stray female vocal drifting in and out (uncredited, but maybe his wife Ana again?). “Vinte e seis anos de vida normal” – this song couldn’t possibly have a cooler introduction of vocal harmonies, strings, followed by strong propulsive drums, erogenous arrangements, and more of Paulo’s lyrical talent in narrating another disaffected, alienated young person who feels they’ve spent their life reading newspapers and watching TV, wishing he’d done things he hadn’t, regretting things he had, until he comes across an announcement in the paper that mentions that he has died, um, reading the newspaper, followed by a stanza of millenarian hyperbole too good to spoil.

“Cafona” (translated roughly as in bad taste, tacky, ‘brega’ or whatever) is either utter nonsense or deep and profound. I’m not sure. But its definitely got one of the deepest grooves around on this disc and Marcos vocals couldn’t be more, well, Marcos. And it was the lead track for a another telenovela sountrack, a show with the same name of “Cafona.” It’s a perfect album closer, and again a perfect marriage of voice-lyric-instrumentation-arrangement.

The instrumental bonus tracks all make for great listening. And sense we mentioned Madlib in this post — is he actually hoping for more remixes and samples? One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in these posts is that, in a big way, Marcos Valle is more valorized outside Brazil than within it, where is almost forgotten except for his bigger hits. In a lot ways he was either ahead of his time, or just ‘out of time’, existing in some weird alternate musical universe. I am aware that these write-ups have perhaps begun leaning towards the breathless prose of idyllic idol praise but, damnit, this album really IS probably a masterpiece. It is nothing if not masterful, and it makes it all sound so easy – as if blending sun-dappled soul music with post-bossa pop, mild psychedelia (as in, about five or six hours into a psychedelic experience..), and rock attitude is just something they guys could do with a shrug or the casual nonchalance displayed in the back cover photos.


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

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ZIMBO TRIO – VOL. 2
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
(Tito)
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.

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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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