Elis Regina – Na Batucada Da Vida (2006)

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ELIS REGINA
“A Batucada Da Vida”
DVD 1 in a series of 3
2006 // NTSC

– Garoto último tipo (Puppy love)
– Vida de bailarina
– O trem azul
– É com esse que eu vou
– Ladeira da preguiça
– Poema – Retrato do desconhecido
– Folhas secas
– Triste
– Gol anulado
– O mestre sala dos mares
– Bodas de prata
– Canto de Ossanha/ Deixa/ Lapinha/Vou deitar e rolar (Quá quá ra quá quá /Aviso aos navegantes
– O que tinha de ser/ Tatuagem
– Atrás da porta
– Águas de março
– Na batucada da vida

O difícil começo da carreira em Porto Alegre não foi diferente das
histórias dos demais membros dessa confraria a qual Elis pertencia – a
das pessoas determinadas a vencer. Ela tinha talento, sabia do seu valor
e só precisava enfrentar o mundo com coragem e determinação. Foi o que
fez. O resultado todos conhecem e está neste DVD. Um registro único de
interpretações memoráveis de Elis, incluindo a canção de Ary Barroso que
ela aprendeu com Tom Jobim e que dá nome ao DVD.
/////

The difficult beginning of her career in Porto Alegre was not any
different from the stories of the many members of the club to which Elis
belonged: of people determined to win.  She had talent, she knew her
she was good, and she only needed to take on the work with courage and
determination.  And that’s just what she did.  The result which everyone
knows is on this DVD.  A record of the most memorable of the unique,
singular interpretations of Elis, including the song by Ary Barroso that
she learned from Tom Jobim and which gives its name to the DVD.

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A blog reader recently asked if I was still alive.  Well I have a lot more interesting posts than this that I have been planning, but when people are worried about your health you have to give them a pulse.  However I’ve been busy with work lately, too busy to write worthwhile blog posts, and so I dug up this description I had written for this DVD over a year ago for someplace else, with some slight modifications:

This is a minor treasure-trove for fans of Elis Regina with some amazing live-in-the-studio performances that really illustrate her mastery of technique and her emotional sincerity.  That being said, I would much rather listen to Elis sing than watch her sing.  Her emotional connection with the material she sings is downright scary.   In the world of popular music there are so many people who give us fake theatrical emotion on stage (Marisa Monte anyone?) that it is unnerving to see someone in the throws of total surrender to a song — When the tune is happy, she is smiling and ebullient; when the song is sad, she cries; when it’s angry, her wrath adds a meter to her diminutive height and we back away…  It’s probably not a dramatic exaggeration to say that this highly emotional, ultra-sensitive nature combined with the roller coaster of fame and success ultimately killed her, as it has with other artists before and since.  When I first saw some of her live clips I questioned whether she was “for real” or just laying it on think.  My conclusion is that she was pretty real alright.

In the days before botox, a singer or actress could potentially achieve the same effect through plucking their eyebrows and imbibing a shit-ton of cocaine.  Elis seems to have flirted with this strategy during the 70s.  As I said, I would rather listen to her records than watch her.

The audio track on some of the material could be better, but presumably they did the best with what they had.  Some of it sounds greats, other parts not so much.
Another critique is that the earliest years of her career are relegated to an odd photo montage at the beginning and then we are launched right
into the 1970s.  Her recordings prior to 1965 are utterly forgettable, but the period from 1965-70 is the material that I find myself coming back to, much more than her slick 70s MPB.  Where is the footage of her regular program O Fino da Bossa (presumably, tied up for some legal reasons), her duets with Jair Rodriguez or Wilson Simonal?  You can find a bit of that stuff on You
Tube but it sure would be nice to have a clean, quality DVD of it.  For my tastes, her records from 1966-1970 were the peak of her creative power and the strongest in terms of repertoire, and we just don’t get any nuggets from that era.  Even so, this is essential for any fan of Elis Regina, as are the other two DVDs in the series.  And they are live performances, not video clips.

The clip with Tom Jobim is just downright weird.  They seem kind of, um, loaded on something or other.  The DVD notes claimed that Elis was learning the song from Tom, which I guess explains why she doesn’t join in the singing and we are left with his flat, low-key, take-it-or-leave-it vocal; this is followed by Elis singing the same tune, impeccably, years later.  But what I really don’t understand is the claim that Elis *learned* this song from Jobim — Ary Barroso is one of the most famous composers in Brazilian popular music, and ‘Na Batucada da Vida’ isn’t exactly an obscure song.  In other words, I just have trouble believing that someone of Elis’ musical background wouldn’t already KNOW this song by 1974 (when the footage in question was shot…).  But who am I to argue with liner notes written by someanonymous record label person?

 

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Elis Regina – Ela (1971)

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ELA
Elis Regina
1971 Phonogram
CD Reissue 1998 Philips

1 Ih! meu Deus do Céu
(Ronaldo Monteiro, Ivan Lins)
2 Black is beautiful
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Cinema Olympia
(Caetano Veloso)
4 Golden slumbers
(McCartney, Lennon)
5 Falei e disse
(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
6 Aviso aos navegantes
(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
7 Mundo deserto
(Erasmo Carlos, Roberto Carlos)
8 Ela
(César Costa Filho, Aldir Blanc)
9 Madalena
(Ronaldo Monteiro, Ivan Lins)
10 Os argonautas
(Caetano Veloso)
11 Estrada do Sol
(Dolores Duran, Tom Jobim)

Produced by Nelson Motta
with studio assistance from Roberto Menescal
Arrangements by Chico de Morais
Front cover by Aldo Luiz


Today, January 19, marked 30 years since the death of one of Brazil’s most beloved divas, Elis Regina. The last few years of her career saw her recording lots of crap, but during the 60s and the better part of the 70s she had a long string of solid records, even if the quality of her repertoire (and the number of songwriters from which she drew) dwindled over time. I’ve picked this record not because it’s representative or a masterpiece or anything like that — it’s neither – but because I think it probably gets overlooked since it is chronologically sandwiched between a couple of her other records that overshadow it.

I always considered this sort of a weak effort but the album has grown on me over the years. It is sort of Elis’ foray into the nascent Brazilian soul movement of the time, a genre for which she wasn’t particularly well-suited. There were two big hits off it – Madalena from Ivan Lins, and Black Is Beautiful from Marcos and Paulo Sérgio Valle. The former is classic Elis Regina and deserved to be a smash hit; the latter is much better on the original ‘Garra’ album from Marcos Valle. The lyrics are so bizarre by today’s standards (and rather politically incorrect, although kind of hilarious) that I really can’t picture anyone other than Marcos Valle pulling it off. The thing about the Brothers Valle is they could be very clever, subtle, and ironic without seeming to be any of those things, and I’ve speculated elsewhere on the different interpretations a listener could give their song ‘Black Is Beautiful’. But with Elis’ schmaltzy, cabaret-style version, what you get is an over-literal, superficial reading of the tune that drags on for at least a minute too long. And like many things superficial, it was a bigger success.

In fact this album stands out for Elis and/or Nelson Motta’s choice to tackle material that was pretty strongly associated with other popular artists. The most obvious of these being, naturally, her taking on The Beatles` “Golden Slumbers”. Although I didn’t like it the first time I heard it, I`ve changed my mind about it and now think its damn cool and is one of the strongest cuts here. Her version of Cinema Olympia, a song written by Caetano Veloso but associated with Gal Costa after appearing on one of her first records, is kind of redundant and pointless, although I appreciate the funky wah-wah guitar. And, sure, Elis could sing the phonebook and I would be happy, but when taking on material associated with one of her peers as esteemed as Gal, she ought to bring something more to the song, instead of less… Much better is her irreverent recording of Caetano’s, “Os Navegantes”, which appeared on his “white album” recorded as something like a Portuguese fado. Here, the verses are sung like a soul ballad, and the choruses are organ-fringed lounge jazz. The tune never takes off with the fire that Elis was capable of imparting to it, but in a way it’s her restraining of herself that makes it work. Not sure about the lounge arrangement though; this song makes me wonder what the whole album would have sounded like with Erlon Chaves on arrangements, who had done some wonderful work with Elis. The song “Mundo deserto” by Erasmo and Roberto Carlos is pretty bad ass. I like Elis singing their songs. Probably the most unexpected tune is a Jobim/Dolorus Duran piece that closes the album, `Estrada do sol`, which is almost outrageously bombastic and pretty goddamn original. It’s a great closer for a bit of an uneven album that I continue to appreciate more over time.


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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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Elis Regina – Em Pleno Verão (1970)

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Elis Regina
“Em pleno verão”
Released 1970 Philips (R 765.112 L)
Reissue 2005 (811 467-2)

1 Vou deitar e rolar (Quaquaraquaquá)
(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
2 Bicho do mato
(Jorge Ben)
3 Verão vermelho
(Nonato Buzar)
4 Até aí morreu Neves
(Jorge Ben)
5 Frevo
(Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)
6 As curvas da estrada de Santos
(Erasmo Carlos, Roberto Carlos)
7 Fechado pra balanço
(Gilberto Gil)
8 Não tenha medo
(Caetano Veloso)
9 These are the songs
(Tim Maia)
10 Comunicação
(Édson Alencar, Hélio Matheus)
11 Copacabana velha de guerra
(Sergio Flaksman, Joyce)

This is a fun album that sees Elis taking herself a bit less seriously than would be the case in years to come. Beginning with the beautiful photo on the album cover, it’s sunshine all the way through. Recorded and released in 1970, it sits on a precipice of musical history sort of like the proverbial time capsule left for the extra-terrestrials to tell them about contemporary MPB. With consistently interesting and flawless arrangements from Erlon Chaves, Elis rips through a repertoire of songs that couldn’t get much better spanning Bossa Nova, Jovem Guarda, Brazilian Soul and Tropicália and spinning them into a weirdly unified whole. A delirious take on “Vou deitar e rolar (Quaquaraquaquá)” from Baden Powell and Paulo César Pinheiro has Elis unable to restrain herself from laughing through most of it, which is a cue to the listener to lighten up a bit. Two fantastic tunes from Jorge Ben nestle nicely with tunes from Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil – “Fechado pra balanço” stands out in particular and is a testament to the stylistic strengths of both composer and interpreter here, as their different personalities are completely intermingled and simultaneously distinct, a talent that was an uncanny ability of Elis. She also continues her tradition of lifting up new talented writers by concluding with a song by a young Joyce (“Copacabana velha de guerra”) and especially the inclusion of Tim Maia’s “These Are The Songs” on which she brought him into the studio to sing. This was the same year that Tim’s debut album would come out, and his inclusion on an album by the reigning queen of MPB helped him to explode on the scene.  But for all the great material on here, currently my favorite cut is “As Curvas da Estrada de Santos” in which she is able to out-swagger Roberto Carlos, with big help from her backing band who really work it out. (Wilson das Neves on drums?? I don’t have musician credits for this one..) Although this album doesn’t seem to have any of the titles that would come to be Elis’ “signature songs” associated with her during the remainder of her short life, it’s a nice solid slab of great music in her discography.

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Elis Regina – Como e Porque (1969)

elis regina

ELIS REGINA
“Como e porque”
Released 1969 on Philips

1 Aquarela Do Brasil/Nega Do Cabelo Duro (Barroso, Nasser, Soares) 3:02
2 O Sonho (Gismonti) 2:20
3 Vera Cruz (Borges, Nascimento) 2:34
4 Casa Forte (Lobo) 2:47
5 Canto de Ossanha (DeMoraes, Powell) 3:25
6 Giro (Adolfo, Gaspar) 2:16
7 O Barquinho (Boscoli, Menescal) 2:06
8 Andança (Caymmi, Souto, Tapajós) 3:14
9 Récit de Cassard [Do Filme “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg”] (Demy, Legrand) 2:52
10 Samba da Pergunta (Pingarilho, Vasconcellos) 1:32
11 Memórias de Marta Saré (Guarnieri, Lobo) 3:17

Along with her record from 1968, this is my favorite of her 1960s records. Arrangements by Roberto Menescal make this album unique in her discography. Menescal also contributes the most famous tuned he penned with friend Ronaldo Boscoli — “O Barquinho”, a tune written for Nara Leão, but stolen by Maysa when she stole Boscoli from her… Elis doesn’t surpass Maysa’s smoky rendition, but it’s still a delight for the ears.

Look at the eclectic songwriting credits on this one and you get an idea of how wonderful this record is — Ary Barroso, a young Egberto Gismonti, Lô Borgest/Milton Nascimento before they were household names, Edu Lobo, Baden Powell & vinicius, Antonio Adolfo (one of Brazil’s best kept secrets), Dori Caymmi. The two compositions here by Edu Lobo, who had quickly become Elis’ favored composer of this era, are among his best work: the wordless-but-vocalized Casa Forte, and the propulsive Memórias de Marta Saré. The latter closes the album and leaves you wanting more, a characterstic this album shares with its predeccesor from 68 but which all but her best records from the 70’s, in their usually-more downbeat melancholic moods, tend to lack.

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Elis Regina – Elis Especial (1968)

PhotobucketELIS REGINA
“Elis Especial”
Released 1968 on PhilipsFrom the first measure of “Samba do Perdão”, this album has an excitement that it manages to maintain throughout the entire record. The Tom Jobim tribute, for whatever reason, did not impress me much the first time I heard it — perhaps it’s the way she rocks the “suingue” of ‘Vou Te Contar’ the second time around, which is now precisely the thing I love about it. I am a sucker for pretty much anything with a guitar played through an old Fender amp with the tremolo turned up somewhere between 8 and 10, and so the next track “De Onde Vens” just melts me. It’s also one of the earliest tracks of Elis Regina to feature and electric guitar at all, if I’m not mistaken. I could keep going like this, blow by blow and song by song, but you would do best to just give it a spin. The album features a choice repetoire of songs penned by the likes of Baden Powell, Dori Caymmi and Nelson Motta, Chico Buarque, Roberto Menescal and Ronaldo Bôscoli, Edu Lobo, Capinan, and Gilberto Gil (a pre-Tropicalia composition). The closing piece, a medley of songs in tribute to the Mangueira samba school, highlights one of Elis’s many skills, the ability to make you forget that her performances span virtually the entire recorded history of Brazilian music in her choice of material. It’s a shame that the session musicians are not credited, as they are really smoking throughout the entire album. Elis describes the recording session in the liner notes, saying that it felt like they were at home practicing, dimming the lights and getting loose. By the last few minutes of the Mangueira medley,when the rhythm section is doing dexterous somersaults in two different meters, I want to go shake Armando Pittigliani’s hand for leaving them all enough room to stretch out.01 – Samba do Perdão (Baden Powell / Paulo César Pinheiro)
02 – “Tributo a Tom Jobim” Vou Te Contar (Tom Jobim) Fotografia (Tom Jobim) Outra Vez (Tom Jobim) Vou Te Contar (Tom Jobim)
03 – De Onde Vens (Dori Caymmi / Nelson Motta)
04 – Bom Tempo (Chico Buarque)
05 – Da Cor do Pecado (Bororó)
06 – Corrida de Jangada (Edu Lobo / Capinan)
07 – Carta ao Mar (Roberto Menescal / Ronaldo Bôscoli)
08 – Vira-mundo (Gilberto Gil / Capinan)
09 – Upa Neguinho (Edu Lobo / Gianfrancesco Guarnieri)
10 – “Tributo à Mangueira” Mangueira (Assis Valente / Zequinha Reis) Fala Mangueira (Mirabeau / Milton de Oliveira) Exaltação à Mangueira (Enéas Brites da Silva / Aloísio Augusto da Costa) Levanta Mangueira (Luis Antônio) Despedida de Mangueira (Aldo Cabral / Benedito Lacerda) Pra Machucar Meu Coração (Ary Barroso)

Produced by Armando Pittigliani
Arrangements ay Erlon Chaves

The wonderfully memorable photo (in the note Elis writes that it was the best photo she ever had taken of her..) is by Hélio Santos for the magazine “Manchete.”

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