Zé de Teté – Coco de roda (2005) Poetas da Mata Norte No.4

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Zé de Teté
Poetas da Mata Norte 4: Coco de roda
2005 Independent with funding incentives related to the
Lei Federal de Incentivo à Cultura aka Lei Rouanet

01 – Dei um brado
02 – Ai, ai meu Deus
03 – Campo verde bonito
04 – Os serrotes
05 – Um preso na detenção
06 – Letra m
07 – As obras da natureza
08 – Canto ruim de morar
09 – Machadeiro Moacir
10 – Sos
11 – Votei tanto que cansei
12 – Tá solto no meio do mundo

Produced by Siba (Sérgio Veloso)
Recorded between December 2005 and March 2005


       It’s about time I shared some of the wonderful series of records released as “Poetas da Mata Norte,” and this one is just barely in time for the São João holiday. Ironically, Zé de Teté is the artist I know the least about out of the handful presented in the series, but it seems appropriate to start here given the time of year. If you look up northeastern “coco de roda” on the internets you will likely find things about dancing in circles, call-and-response singing and accompaniment with hand claps and wooden sandals, an array of percussion instruments, but precious little about the singers without whose words nobody would be dancing or singing along. Hence the importance of the “oral poet” to this music and many other strains in the many-threaded tapestry of Pernambuo’s cultural patrimony. Coco de roda is still found in its more raw form like that sung by Zé de Teté, Galo Preto, Dona Selma de Coco, Raízes do Arcoverde and others, but it has also influenced more mainstream artists, mostly famously Jackson do Pandeiro who was proficient in the style, and others like Alceu Valença (who really absorbed it via Jackson). “Coco” is typically associated with the sertão (semi-arid hinterlands) and agreste or scrubland regions of the interior but can be found further east all the way to the coast. Zé de Teté is from the city of Limoreiro in the agreste. With his strong and strident voice he brings us tongue-twisting word salads like “A letra M,” reflections on surviving in a tenuous relationship with nature (Canto ruim de morar, Campo verde bonito), a somber portrait of life inside a jail cell (Um preso na detenção), and the humor-cum-social-critique of tunes like “As obras da natureza” and “Votei tanto que cansei,” or “I’ve voted so much that I’m sick of it,” in which the singer expresses his disgust at the manipulative promises of politics and vows that he’ll only vote again if Jesus runs as a candidate. And of course there are songs of just the sheer pleasure of singing and making music, inviting all of us to the party.

This is the fourth volume in a series of six CDs. Coordinated and produced by Siba (Mestre Ambrósio, Fuloresta do Samba), the “Poetas da Mata Norte” project was an attempt to present some of the living traditions of ‘roots’ music in the state of Pernambuco, encompassing the styles of maracatu de baque solto, ciranda, embolada, and coco de roda. These styles are often unfamiliar to Brazilians outside of Pernambuco or the northeast of Brazil, and when they are represented in recordings or mainstream media they tend to be portrayed as folkloric “survivals” from some bygone, romanticized agrarian era. Siba’s objective was in part to release a body of work from artists who were living, breathing, and innovating within these “traditional” styles, with a focus on their lyrical content and wordplay, typically based on improvisation that takes place in a performance setting. Hence if you don’t speak any Portuguese you will definitely be missing a lot of the fun here, but it’s still great music regardless of that.
Siba, whose work with the band Mestre Ambrósio (the roots-branch of the Mangue Bit clique in Recife), led him to eventually relocate for a time to the interior city of Nazaré da Mata 67 kilometers to the north, did not “discover” these artists in any sense of the word. They all had long histories as performers, a loyal albeit local following, and in many cases had already been recording their own self-released CDs since the late 90s or so, usually funded by whatever savings they could squirrel away and with partners from local businesses or politicians (who would get prominently mentioned on the CD artwork…)  At least a couple artists in the series, the cirandeiro João Limoeiro and embolador Antônio Cajú, were releasing vinyl LPs as early as the 1980s. Siba rather consciously used his “celebrity status” to launch this project with support from public arts funding organized under Brazil’s auspicious Lei Rounet for cultural incentives – you can see on the CD tray that contributes included the national oil company Petrobrás and the state arts council (FUNDARPE) among others. Not only did the presence of his name attract listeners who might otherwise not have heard of or cared about these types of music, but he was also an ideal producer. A student of Recife’s musical conservatory, he had relocated to the rural interior to learn from guys like this, and his dual familiarity with the recording process of studios and the improvised, street-level context of the music made for a near-perfect combination. I have a small collection of self-released stuff from some of these artists and the quality can be hit or miss – often plagued by limited studio time with engineers who couldn’t care less or don’t really understand the music, the discerning ear can find lots of instances of bad editing or dubious production choices (overuse of reverb, dropouts and so on). Some of João Limoeiro’s albums from the 80s used synthesizers instead of horn sections. I am not sure if this was to save time and money in the studio or if his actual band of the era performed that way a decade or more before Pernambuco’s roots “renaissance” came into full sway. The point is that Siba was able to bring out the best in these artists: they sound more comfortable and confident in the studio than they do on some of their self-produced recordings, the instruments sound full and robust, the repertoires are carefully chosen, and some productive collaborations between the artists took place on the albums.  You don’t have to take it from me, you can see it in the short mini-documentaries there were included with each CD, here

The ultimate proof of the success of the whole venture is the high esteem in which the CDs are regarded by the normal audience for these regional styles of music. I can’t judge the outcome of the stated objective of calling attention to this music for outsiders because I don’t have any reliable way to measure its impact. The series is very much out of print and sought after by people interested in this stuff. In some cases the artists themselves don’t even have original copies. When I was trying to buy them all, I was instructed by a couple of the artists to go buy a pirated copy at the only local music store (who specializes in CD-Rs of regional music). The artists themselves had long ago loaned out their copies and never saw them again. 
This title was one I managed to find in a shop way up north along the border of Pernambuco and Paraíba. I found two titles there, and scored a few more as gifts from Siba himself, with his blessing to distribute them far and wide since it is anybody’s guess if another pressing will ever be made. I managed to get secure rips of one or two others from friends who owned originals. I haven’t yet made good on my vow to distribute these far and wide, but better late than never. It is the month of Festas Juninas, a prolonged holiday that is really only commemorated in the northeast aside from some tepid folkloric events elsewhere in the country or the more animated parties held in local neighborhoods of Nordestino migrants in São Paulo or in Rio (where the place to be right now is the Feira de São Cristovão in the Zona Norte).   So I will try to share as many of these as I can get uploaded before the month closes.

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in 320 kbs
in FLAC 

Visit Zé de Teté’s website (has not been updated in a long time..) here 

Cajú e Castanha – Sensação Estranha (1982)


Cajú e Castanha
“Sensação Estranha”
Released 1982 on Copacabana (COELP-41786) {this pressing}
Reissued subsequently on Beverly Records (CLP-81768)

01. Pensei que não pensava (Caju / Castanha / Walter de Afogados)
02. Vindo lá da lagoa (Caju / Castanha / Walter de Afogados)
03. Casamento do meu avô (Caju / Castanha / Ronaldo Café)
04. Bezouro mangagá (Caju / Castanha)
05. Homenagem à Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Caju / Castanha / Amélia Felicidade da Silva)
06. Coco de São João (Caju / Castanha)
07. Sensação estranha (Caju / Castanha / Walter de Afogados)
08. Calango e desafio (Téo Azevedo)
09. Pato gamela (Caju / Castanha / Oliveira)
10. Veja que besteira (Caju / Castanha / Walter de Afogados / Josan)
11. Roda rodete rodiado (Caju / Castanha)
12. Meu amor fez um balanço (Caju / Castanha / Ede Cury)
13. Pra ver o olho do sol (Caju / Castanha / Oliveira

Transcription Notes:
Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply) > Creek Audio OBH-15 -> M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard -> Adobe Audition 3.0 at 24-bits 96khz -> Click Repair light settings, additional clicks and pops removed in Audition -> Normalized to -1db -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced -> ID Tags done in foobar2000 v.1.0.1

This is the second album by Cajú e Castanha, natives of São Lourenço, Pernambuco, and masters of the embolada. The album opens up with a couple of forró numbers that good enough, and still highlight the pair’s rhythmic singing style (especially the opener “Pensei que não pensava”), but for anybody who is already somewhat familiar with these guys you will just be impatiently waiting to get to what is coming around the corner with the third tune, “Casamento do meu avô.” This is the type of tune for which these two got famous – clever, witty lyrics with infectiously funky pandeiro playing. (It is worth noting how well the recording engineers captured this by proper microphone placement and getting a crapload of low-end out of those instruments).

Taking public transit in Pernambuco has one fringe benefit that compensates for the irregular service and crowded discomfort – you have a slim chance of having a random guy armed with a pandeiro get on board and start singing improvised embolada and making up verses about the people on board in hopes of getting some loose change. If you have any humanity whatsoever you really have to give these guys a dollar or two, because not only did they just make your day a lot more lively (even if they aren’t particularly good), but if you fail to give anything you will be cursed by the Embolada Gnomes (sort of like a union which regulates their pay scale and right to strike) and when you die you will spend eternity in a brightly lit room listening to Eagles records over and over.

Allegedly, Cajú and Castanha had migrated to São Paulo – like a great deal of Northeasterners including the outgoing president – in search of a better life, and spent some time doing their thing on buses as well. When done in pairs the embolada was and is still played mostly like this – just two guys trading verbal ripostes and rocking out on tambourines, uh, I mean, pandeiros. The genre often gets rather saucy, raunchy, or downright filthy, but these guys keep it mostly “ribald.” Yes, “ribald” is how they roll. And whereas emboladas are often a trading of insults quite a bit like the North American genre of “playing the dozens”, Cajú and Castanha are more storytellers than sparring partners. The melodic forró that makes the title track here, ‘Sensação Estranha’, is however an upbeat little number about gonorrhea.

This particular record contains one of their best-known tunes, “Roda, Rodete, Rodiano”

These guys have featured in a couple of documentaries over the course of their long career. The easiest one to find is a rather horrible, awful film called “Eu moro no Brasil” made by some Norweigan or German or Swede (sorry I can’t call, one of those really tall blokes from a very Aryan place). In spite of the film’s overall awfulness it is worth checking out for some of the performance footage and particularly in the case of Cajú e Castanha, since the original Castanha died in 2001 shortly after the film was completed. The “duo” lives on, however, as his son has taken his place as well as the moniker of Castanha, and so they continue to perform and record under that name. I guess Castanha II or Castaninha just don’t sound as bitchin’ cool.


This is not the best-sounding vinyl rip I have done in my life. It actually took two different copies of this album to get it this good – one for the audio, the other for the album cover. The music was taken off the original Copacabana pressing from 1982, but the cover for that one was graced with an absurdly huge adhesive sticker on it with the number “863” plastered over Caju’s head in accordance with a former owner’s “cataloging” system. I know it is a “system” because I bought another record (also by Caju e Castanha) from the same place, and IT has the number “864” on it. In any case I went out of my way to get my hands on a decent copy of just the album cover to photograph for the beloved community here. Unfortunately the vinyl was equally beaten as the first pressing. In truth it isn’t too terrible, but the embolada numbers are very sibilant (pandeiro and voice, think about it..) and thus coupled with surface noise it can be a little fatiguing on the ears. Since I refuse to use EQ, dynamics compression, or any heavy-handed filtering other than the wonderful Click Repair algorithm, you will just have to make adjustments at home if you feel the need.

Caju e Castanha – Sensação Estranha (1982) in 320kbs em pee tree

Caju e Castanha – Sensação Estranha (1982) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

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