Candeia – Luz da Inspiração and Axé (1976-78)

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CANDEIA
Dose Dupla (2 on 1)
Luz da Inspiração (1976) and
Axé! Gente Amiga do Samba (1978)

LUZ DA INSPIRAÇÃO
1977 Atlantic/WEA

1 Riquezas do Brasil (Brasil poderoso)
(Waldir 59, Candeia)   
2 Maria Madalena da Portela
(Aniceto)   
3 Olha o samba sinhá (Samba de roda)
(Candeia)   
4 Vem menina moça
(Candeia)   
5 Nova escola
(Candeia)   
6 Já curei minha dor
(Padeirinho)   
7 Luz da inspiração
(Candeia)   
8 Me alucina
(Candeia, Wilson Moreira)   
9 Falso poder (Ser ou não ser)
(Candeia)   
10 Era quase madrugada
(Casquinha, Candeia)   
11 Cabocla Jurema
(Candeia)   
12 Pelo nosso amor
(Cartola)   

AXÉ! GENTE AMIGA DO SAMBA
Candeia   
1978 Atlantic/WEA

1 Pintura sem arte
(Candeia)   
2 Ouro desça do seu trono
(Paulo da Portela)   
Mil reis (Candeia-Noca)

3 Vivo isolado do mundo
(Alcides Malandro Histórico)   
Amor não é brinquedo (Candeia-Martinho da Vila)

4 Zé Tambozeiro [Tambor de Angola]
(Vandinho, Candeia)   
5 Dia de graça
(Candeia)   
6 Gamação
(Candeia)   
Peixeiro granfino (Bretas-Candeia)
Ouço uma voz (Nelson Amorim)
Vem amenizar (Candeia-Waldir 59)

OMITTED FROM CD VERSION – 7 O invocado
(Casquinha)   
Beberrão (Aniceto do Império-Mulequinho)

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Dia de Graça
Hoje é manhã de carnaval (ao esplendor)
As escolas vão desfilar (garbosamente)
Aquela gente de cor com a imponência de um rei, vai pisar na passarela (salve a Portela)
Vamos esquecer os desenganos (que passamos)
Viver alegria que sonhamos (durante o ano)
Damos o nosso coração, alegria e amor a todos sem distinção de cor
Mas depois da ilusão, coitado
Negro volta ao humilde barracão
Negro acorda é hora de acordar
Não negue a raça
Torne toda manhã dia de graça
Negro não se humilhe nem humilhe a ninguém
Todas as raças já foram escravas também
E deixa de ser rei só na folia e faça da sua Maria uma rainha todos os dias
E cante o samba na universidade
E verás que seu filho será príncipe de verdade
Aí então jamais tu voltarás ao barracão

It’s the 13th of May, a holiday in Brazil commemorating the abolition of slavery in 1888, when Princess Isabel found it in her benevolent, saintly heart to “free the slaves.”  Commemorations only work well when you exclude the inconvenient, which in this case would involve decades of debt peonage, landlessness, discrimination, and systemic racism shielded by a self-serving myth of so-called ‘racial democracy’ (“Brazil does not have a race problem, it has a class problem…”).  It is inconvenient for commemorations to pay attention to the harassment of people of color simply for being in the “wrong place” (like a shopping mall), to the militarization of the slums to make sure that people “know their place,” or if that still doesn’t work, vigilante citizens chasing and beating a teenage petty thief, stripping him naked and then chaining him to a lamppost with a bike lock.  Inconvenient that all of these last items have happened in the 21st century, in spite of provisions in Brazil’s 1988 constitution that make racism and racial discrimination a crime punishable by prison time, but which is of course never enforced.  It’s also probably best not to think about the voluminous documentation of forced slave labor and human rights abuses in the remote interior of the country (mind you, as an occasionally pedantic American historian insisted to me once, this is “not the same as the chattel slavery” of the transatlantic slave trade.. She’s right, but she was also kind of missing the point). 

So with all that in mind, a blog post of music by Candeia might be better suited for the holiday commemorating the death of Zumbi of Palmares rather than this patriotic flag-waving, parade-holding one.   After all Candeia did found his own samba organization called Grêmio Recreativo de Arte Negra e Samba Quilombo.  The song “Dia de Graça” is a gorgeous little composition, whose lyrics (cited above) trace a hopeful, somewhat utopian vision that messes with the classic “inversion” theme of carnival that is a beloved subject of erudite analysis from Bakhtin to Roberto DaMatta to that annoying book by Alma Guillermoprieto.  That well-trodden debate tended to be framed as:  Is the upside-down, burlesque and irreverent world of carnival – where the poor and dispossessed could dress and act like aristocrats or royalty –  a kind of social critique made by those whose voices were historically silenced, or was it a kind of ‘steam valve’ to release the bottled-up tensions of a hierarchical society to prevent them from erupting into genuine chaos and disorder.   Candeia’s poem, however, is from the point of view of the people who participate in the courtly procession of the samba school, which has roots stretching back to the black brotherhoods of Our Lady of the Rosary and the coronation ceremonies of the Congo Kings of the colonial period.  My ‘free’ translation with no attempt to maintain meter or rhyme, hence laid out as a paragraph here:


It’s carnival morning in all its splendor, the samba schools are going to parade in their elegance; these people of color with the majesty of kings are going to stride along the concourse (hail Portela!). Forget our troubles and suffering that we’ve lived through, live the happiness that we dream of all year long, give our hearts, happiness, and love to everyone with no regard for their color.  But when the illusion is over, poor thing, the black man returns to his humble shack.  Black man wake up, it’s time to wake up.  Don’t deny your race.  Make every morning your day of grace and freedom.  Black man don’t be humiliated and don’t humiliate anyone else, all of the races were also once slaves.  Stop being a king only in the pageant and make your Maria a queen for all days.  Sing samba in the universities, and see that your son can be a true prince in real life, and then you will never again have to return to that humble shack.

Samba has no shortage of bittersweet  songs about carnival, but I can’t think of too many that also sneak in jarringly direct negations of the supposed inferiority of black people with a line like “todas as raças já foram escravas também.”  It’s a we-shall-overcome expression of racial uplift clothed in the silk and velvet of Louis the XV.

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“Dia de Graça” is from Candeia’s greatest album, “Axé – gente amiga de samba”  recorded shortly before he died.  He was a samba purist in the era of the commercialized spectacle that would culminate in the building of the Sambadrome, disillusioned with the direction of the samba schools were taking.  His father was a flautist who played choro and was part of Portela’s first comisão da frente. In his own words, Candeia was something of an intermediary between the generations, bridging the two Paulos – the original Paulo de Portela, and the great Paulinho da Viola.  You can see both Candeia and Paulinho (although not at the same time) in this amazing short film by Leon Hirszman called Partido Alto

The first half of this film centers around Candeia holding court from his throne of a wheelchair, giving a didactic demonstration of the partido alto style, its base in improvisation and similarity to Northeastern repente or embolada, different ways to sing it and dance it.  Check out the posters from Senegal on the walls behind them, which are very possibly from the first Festival of Black Arts held in Dakar in 1966 which had a big Brazilian contingent.  The second half, “In the house of Manacéia” captures as well as any film can the informal cauldron of creativity at a Sunday lunch of feijoada and samba with the old guard, seemingly extending quite long into the evening.  Paulinho, in the only narration in the film placed at the very end, talks about how from a very young age he saw partido alto as a type of communion, a participatory rite in which everyone could enter in their own way of improvising.  He remarks how “today” (i.e. the latter half of the 70s), samba had so many external obligations, emphasizing the “spectacle” at the expense of the sambistaReturning to the partido alto was a way to stay grounded in samba’s authentic roots.  The concept of “authenticity” is one that has preoccupied me on this blog and in other writing that I don’t put here.  Typically, along with my fellow travelers, I am preoccupied with the way elites have created and sustained the notion of an “authentic” form of culture, excluding much in the process, at the service of one or another ideology (both conservative and revolutionary).   What I’ve been interested in lately is the different ways that the idea of “authenticity” is used by participants themselves of a given form of cultural expression as a way to safeguard against the cooptation of outsiders.  Of course this gets hopelessly complicated when we have to consider state interventions that designate “patrimony,” and partido alto received that official recognition by IPHAN in 2007.  Journalist Lena Frias points out on the back cover of “Axé” that Candeia launched his Samba Quilombo foundation without any reference to the “whitening” of the art form that was a polemic at the time, and cites lyrics to show that he wasn’t interested in excluding anyone from the world of samba based on skin color.  A valid observation, but it doesn’t contradict in any way that Candeia felt pretty strongly about defending the black, Afro-Brazilian roots of the art form.

 When I first did some blog posts of Candeia records I was mildly chastised by a French blogger friend for not having written more at length about the greatness and importance of this important artist.  Naturally this discouraged me from posting anything else about Candeia for the better part of two years – What is it with these French dudes and their impressive 5000-word posts about samba, ain’t nobody got time for that!

Anyway, it is a non-trivial travesty that the Brazilian recording industry (and/or its multinational overlords) let this album stay out of print for decades.  Too add insult to injury, when Warner finally did reissue this album, as part of a double disc set including both of his Atlantic records, they left off the final track for no reason that I can discern.  Possibly an issue over publishing rights, but it could also just as likely be pure negligence or sloppiness on their part.  This was sort of a budget release (R$30 when it came out, now going for  R$20), but doesn’t even bother with even a blurb of text from Tarik de Souza, let alone actual liner notes.  I hate to praise EMI for anything but their budget series of 2-em-1 CDs from the early 00’s did much better in this regard.  It also fails to note the participation of other great sambistas like Dona Ivone Lara, Manaceá, Clementina de Jesus, and Aniceto de Império who all sing on different tracks.  Seriously, none of these people get mentioned anywhere on the CD.   I will say one good thing about this reissue – the remastering is quite nice and a huge improvement over the garbage reissues that the label Discobertas put out.

Which reminds me that I’ve yet to offer a single word about the other album in this set, Luz da Inspiração from 1976.  It is a fine album in its own right,  overshadowed by Axé but a very different record in a lot of ways.  Opening with the samba enredo of “Riquezas do Brasil”, it also has some first-rate offerings in the partido alto style – “Maria Madalena de Portela,” “Olha o samba, sinhá,” and “Vem menina moça.”  There are slower tunes too, almost samba-canção, like “Me alucina” and the title song whose arrangements have flavors of the Golden Age of samba (and, incidentally, a lyric about slaves transformed into kings).  The tune “Nova Escola” seems like it had his new foundation Quilombo in mind.  A few tunes have a more ‘samba de asfalto’ style like the work of Paulinho da Viola or João Nogueira, and then there’s the spare spiritism of “Caboclo Jurema.”

“Luz de Inspiração” is a more stylistically diverse album than “Axé” but also less cohesive as an artistic statement.  “Axé” really shows Candeia firing on all cylinders, with writing partners spanning his entire lifetime as a sambista, from Paulo de Portela to Martinho da Vila.  In fact the album deserves a post all to itself, but I will either leave that to the French, or perhaps I will make another one using a vinyl needledrop since it has ALL THE SONGS ON IT for fuch’s sake…

This blog post doesn’t really come around full circle to 13 de Maio or anything like that.  It’s a day for parades and for getting drunk.  Freedom is never “granted” by princesses or politicians.  Everyone knows that.

Candeia – Candeia (1970)

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Candeia (1970)
1970 Equipe (EQ-865)

Reissued (poorly) in 2011, Discobertas (DB-079)

1 Samba da antiga
(Candeia)
2 Sorriso antigo
(Aldecy, Candeia)
3 Viver
(Candeia)
4 O pagode
(Candeia)
5 Prece ao sol
(Candeia)
6 A volta
(Candeia)
7 Paixão segundo eu
(Candeia)
8 Dia de graça
(Candeia)
9 Outro recado
(Otto Enrique Trepte, Candeia)
10 Chorei, chorei
(Candeia)
11 Coisas banais
(Candeia, Paulinho da Viola)
12 Ilusão perdida
(Otto Enrique Trepte, Candeia)

*note: Otto Enrique Trepte is otherwise-known as Casquinha de Portela

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A classic, wonderful, and rare album from Candeia that has unfortunately been nearly ruined by that awful, truly godawful sound of the Discobertas record label. They should be ashamed of themselves. On one hand, one could say that we should just be thankful that this music is being reissued; in fact, the existence of this reissue probably means that nobody else will bother reissuing this material again for another decade or longer — meaning that the end result is that we are stuck with this subpar representation. I know I have said this before about Discobertas and I hate sounding like a broken record, but it is a point worth emphasizing. The shoddy quality of their releases would make a person think they operate like the old Radioactive records (i.e. only a semi-legitimate but essentially bootleg label), but instead these guys seem to have a publicity department. All of their Candeia reissues were sourced from mediocre vinyl copies and seemingly played back on a cheap turntable with a twenty year-old stylus (maybe they were going for a needle / agulha as vintage as the records themselves, so perhaps 30 years old)…

Well on to the music (if you can hear it over the noise). As far as I know this is Candeia’s first actual album, and marks his coming out of self-imposed seclusion after a shooting left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. (This happened while Candeia worked as a police officer, and according to legend followed closely on the heels of a night when Candeia had a curse put upon him by a prostitute who he apparently had beaten up while on the job.) Although he had written some of the Portela samba school’s most famous compositions, leading them to victory in the Carnaval competitions several times, he withdrew from the bohemian life after his accident and had to be nudged back into writing and performing by friends like Martinho da Vila and Paulinho da Viola. And thank the stars that he had such persistent friends. Because Cartola may have only recorded a handful of records as a leader or member of a group during his brief decade of the 1970s (he passed away in 1978), but all of them are essential. This one is particularly strong, better than his second album (Seguinte: Raiz). Leading off with the self-reflexive “Samba da antiga” and just taking off from there on all cylinders. There is the infectious refrains of the samba da roda, “O Pagode”, with Candeia holding court between the chorus of “não se pode ficar sem entrar no pagode”, to beautiful samba-canção like “A volta.” One of the wonderful flourishes of this record is the trombone playing credited only to Raulzinho. If the sound wasn’t so terrible on this reissue, we could hear the interplay between the trombone, the lead and group vocals, the surdo, the agogô on divine “Outro recado”, co-written with Casquinha and easily one of the highlights of this consistently high-caliber record. But in the condition the audio is in, it all sort of gets lost in a wash of white noise that will leave you with tinnitus if you play it too loudly. This is sandwiched by two other sambas that ought to be canonical, ‘Dia de graça’ and ‘Chorei, chorei’. Hard to fathom that he wrote so many fantastic tunes without partners, which makes his infrequent partnerships all the more special, especially when they are with people like Casquinha or Paulinho da Viola — “Coisas banais” has Paulinho’s both lyrically and melodically pretty heavy on it, but Candeia adds his charismatic ebullience to it. The record is short, and it is so good that you want to play it over again immediately when it finishes.. Except that Discobertas put out a product that sounds like shit.

If you are wondering what to get me for Christmas, you can track down a copy of the Equipe vinyl and mail it to me. Thanks in advance.

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Candeia – Samba de Roda (1975) reissue

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SAMBA DE RODA
Candeia
1975 Tapecar SS-007
2011 Reissue Discobertas (DB-081)

1 Brinde ao cansaço
(Candeia)
2 Conselhos de vadio
(Alvarenga)
3 Alegria perdida
(Candeia, Wilson Moreira)
4 Camafeu
(Martinho da Vila)
5 Sinhá dona da casa
(Candeia, Netinho)
6 Acalentava
(Candeia)
7 Seleção de Partido Alto:
Samba na tendinha (Candeia)
Já clareou (Dewett Cardoso)
Não tem veneno (Candeia-Wilson Moreira)
Eskindôlelê (Candeia)
Olha hora Maria (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)

8 Motivos folclóricos da Bahia:
a) Capoeira: Ai, Haydê (Folclore)
Paranauê (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)
b) Maculelê: Sou eu, sou eu (Folclore)
Não mate homem (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)
c) Candomblé: Deus que lhe dê (Folclore)
Salve! Salve! (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)
d) Samba de roda: Porque não veio (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)

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I hesitated on sharing this here for a long time. Why, you ask? Isn`t this a wonderful classic album from the genius Candeia? Yes, yes it is — but giving this reissue any wider publicity is like polluting the waters. Finally I decided that, as a public service, I should post about it – with this caveat: I strongly urge all readers DO NOT BUY THIS reissue under any circumstances, I don’t care how cheaply you find it in your local shop.

Another essential samba album that has been essentially ruined by a reissue that makes it barely listenable. I am not exaggerating. Our blogger friend Dr. Funkathus has opined that I am something of an obsessive over about audio and sound quality. That may be so, but this reissue disproves the commonly spoken fallback excuse of “It’s the music that matters in the end.” Because, honestly, I will give ten dollars to anyone who can make it through this first track without a) cringing or b) checking your stereo system connections or c) wondering if you are listening to a low bitrate mp3. OK so I won’t give you ten dollars because I am flat broke at the moment. THIS album, which I picked up simultaneously with the other two Candeia reissues on the Discobertas label, is what prompted me to bring them all back to Livraria Cultura and ask for a refund on the basis that they were defective and should not have been released this way. The store clerk thought it was a slightly unorthodox request, but that store is famously awesome and took them back anyway. I hope they sent returned them to the label with an angry note but, alas, they probably didn’t. If Discobertas had any integrity they would do a product recall on these, because they are seriously, seriously substandard. These releases have stripped them of any legitimacy as a label and put them in category of shadowy semi-legit / outright bootleg labels like the defunct Radioactive label. Candeia must be rolling over in his grave, and his family must be really hard up for cash to have licensed the rights over these people.

This album deserves a better write-up than this. But it also deserves a better reissue.

It is Candeia in full bloom and at the peak of his powers as a songwriter and performer — a peak that would last until the end of his short life and his final posthumous album, Axê. Dominated by his original compositions but also carefully chosen covers like the humorous “Conselhos de vadio” (Alvarenga) and “Camafeu” from Martinho da Vila which has all the melodic trademarks of that composer.

The album is saturated with the sound of samba’s roots in Afro-brazilian religious traditions (such as but not exclusively Candomblé), incorporating instruments like the berimbau and capoeira rhythmic structure. But the show-stopping centerpiece of this album is without any doubt the 11-minute selection of Partido Alto tunes which gives a taste of how this stuff was performed in a relaxed live setting, something more fully explored on an album called Partido Em 5 that I will be also be sharing here soon…

1975 was a momentous year for Candeia. Disenchanted with the direction of the established samba schools, he founded “Grêmio Recreativo de Arte Negra e Escola de Samba Quilombo” with Wilson Moreira and Nei Lopes in Rio’s suburbs, to reassert samba’s roots in Afro-Brazilian traditions. One of his songs, “O Mar Seranou” was recorded by Clara Nunes and was the leading hit single of her best-selling album, ‘Claridade.’ And, with all that going on, he also recorded THIS ALBUM.

It is much better to have this album in your collection than not to. But even a half-assed vinyl rip on the net would probably be less abrasive for your ears. And apparently this was issued on CD once before in the 1990s although I have never come across a copy.

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Candeia – Seguinte…: Raiz (1971)

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Seguinte… RAIZ
Candeia (1971)
Released on Equipe (EQC-800.004)
Reissued poorly on Discobertas 2011 (DB-80)

01 – Vem é Lua
02 – Filosofia do Samba
03 – Silêncio, Tamborim
04 – Saudade
05 – A Hora e a Vez do Samba
06 – Saudação a Toco Preto
07 – Vai Pró Lado de Lá
08 – Regresso
09 – De Qualquer Maneira
10 – Imaginação
11 – Minhas Madrugadas
12 – Quarto Escuro
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Produced by Oswaldo Cadaxo
Recorded by “Walter.” Mastered by Ary Perdigão, Production assistant – Adelzon Alvez
Album cover and layout – Luiz Passango
José Roberto – arrangements on 6,10, and 12

Reissued under executive producion of Marcelo Fróes with “juridical help” from Adriana Vendramini, botched graphical layout by Baby Cartier, and “remastering” from Ricardo Carvalheira. They should all be out of a job.

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An exception album by Candeia in more ways than one. More animated and confident than his first album (note: even though he’d been part of Portela for years and written many of their greatest samba enredos, 1970 was the first time he ventured into making an album). Stylistically he’s moved away from the touches of “samba de asfalto” (urban samba) on that first album that may have been an influence of friend and fellow Portela stalwart Paulinho da Viola, and into the territory of rootsy ‘roda da samba’, samba pagode, partido alto, and even samba soul. It’s this latter that is the other ‘exception’ to this album. To my knowledge its the only time Candeia really experimented with this form and it seems no coincidence that the three tracks touched by this style were all arranged by José Roberto. “Saudação a Toco Preto” is a funk-driven tune that sounds like a ponto cantado of umbanda punctuated with punchy brass, while “Imaginação” is a straight-up soul ballad. The closer of the album, “Quarto Escuro” is a more traditional samba but with the production trappings of organ and string arrangements, both of which blend quite nicely when the surdo drum comes in to kick it into gear. Unsurprisingly this is probably the most successful of the three tunes here that had an outside arranger. The other two are not *bad* songs by any means, but Candeia sounds a bit awkward singing them. If I had been in the studio I would have told him those songs “não tem sua cara” — they’re just not you, Candeia.

I shouldn’t focus on the exceptions because the rest of the album is some of the most Classic Candeia out there. The album opens with “Vem, é Lua” which is just plain.. exciting. Followed by “Filosofia de Samba”, one of his enduring compositions. The third track is the only one not written by him but instead introduces a ‘new’ Portela writer, Anézio (with Wilson Bombeiro). The tune “Saudades” is a modernized choro and tribute to Paulo de Portelo, the old “professor” of the samba school. “Vai Pró Lado de Lá” is partido-alto at its finest. How the hell could this album have ever been out of print? ‘Regresso’, also fantastic. How many superlatives can I hurl at these songs before I choke on my own tongue?

Candeia would take a break of four years before releasing another album, for reasons unknown to me. Maybe he was just lazy, gimps in wheelchairs often are lazy. (Just checking to see if anyone actually reads these descriptions.. )

Of the three disastrous Candeia reissues released simultaneously by the sketchy label Discobertas, this one probably sounds the best. But still very inconsistent. Some songs sound fine, others mediocre, still others downright awful, like low-res mp3s (even though the bitdepth of the FLACs all average around 800-odd kbs). As usual no details are given about the technical aspects of the reissue, but there is no doubt that master tapes were NOT used. The label ‘Equipe’ was a small indie but also had put out albums by notables like Eumir Deodato in the 60s. With a little digging it seems like a backup master could be found. Or at least a GOOD vinyl copy to work from. Oh, and they could hire a real mastering engineer and do it in a proper studio and maybe spend more than 45 minutes on the mastering.

Oh, and they totally fucked up the track order on the outer tray of the album. Thankfully, the songs are actually in the correct playing order on the CD, just listed wrong on the reissue jacket. Just as embarrassing, they actually have the tracks numbers for José Roberto’s arrangements correct inside the booklet. Just how quickly is Discobertas rushing this stuff out? Don’t they have anybody proofreading or (gods forbid!) LISTENING to these before putting out on the market?

Other than these small complaints (!), it is of course a joy to have this album back in print. I suppose we can expect another reissue of it sometime around 2020, if the world hasn’t ended by then.

The music is fantastic, and that’s what matters! Right? …. Yeah, right.

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