Marcos Valle – Mustang côr de sangue (1969)

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MUSTANG COR DE SANGUE

Marcos ValleReleased in 1969 as Odeon MOFB 3588

Reissued in 2011
in the boxset Marcos Valle Tudo with extra tracks

1 Mustang cor de sangue(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Samba de verão 2(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Catarina e o vento(Arnoldo Medeiros, Marcos Valle)
4 Frevo novo(Paulo Sergio Valle, Novelli, Marcos Valle, Taiguara)
5 Azimuth(Novelli, Marcos Valle)
6 Dia de vitória(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Os dentes brancos do mundo(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Mentira carioca(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 Das três às seis(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
10 Tigre da Esso que sucesso(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 O Evangelho segundo San Quentin(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
12 Diálogo(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle, Milton Nascimento)

BONUS TRACKS
13. Azymuth (alternate take)
14. Tigre de Esso, que sucesso (instrumental alternate take)
15. Feio aerodinâmico (Azymuth No.2) (instrumental alternate take)
16. Beijos sideral (B-side)

Marcos Valle – vocals, piano, acoustic guitar
Milton Nascimento – vocals on Diálogo
Eumir Deodato – arrangements on ‘Dia de vitória’
Orlando Silveira – arrangements on ‘Samba de verão 2’ and ‘Os dentes brancos do mundo’
Maurício Mendonça and Marcos Valle – arrangements and orchestration on ‘Mustang cor de sangue’
Novelli – baixo
Victor Manga – bateria
Nanâ Vasconcelos – percussion

Produced by Milton Miranda
———————–

Marcos Valle was a chameleon, but he was always Marcos Valle.

“Mustange cor de sangue” is another solid effort from the Brothers Valle, much more in a pop vein than “A viola enluarda” from the previous year. From the start you can hear a strong influence of the `pilantragem` of Wilson Simonal, who would in fact rerecord the title track this same year. This song and “Os dentes brancos do mundo” are cited by Marcos as being critiques against consumerism and social inequality, while Samba de Verão No.2 is a comment about the changed turbulent times that left with people neither “the calm or the piece necessary to appreciate ‘Samba de verão’ from his second album. (Reading between the lines, it’s as if he is saying that song has outlived its relevance by 1969… Unfortunately Samba de Verão No.2 is also nowhere near as memorable a tune as its namesake, but holds its own.)

The jazzy slightly funk-inflected Azymuth would be the inspiration for the name of that band, who would eventually come to work with Marcos a few years later. The songs “O Evangelho segundo San Quentin” is one of the more beguiling, rather abstract piece of avant-pop, followed by another gorgeous collaboration with Milton Nascimento, “Diálogo”, which ends the original album. (This would be the last time Milton would appear on a Marcos Valle album as far as I am aware, which is odd since Marcos would soon record with Som Imaginario and continue to collaborate with people associated with Milton. My celebrity-gossip guess, based on nothing, is that Milton had an unrequitted love crush on blond-haired blue-eyed Marcos and hence had to stop appearing on his albums). The whole album leaves my tongue twittering to utter the phrase “transitional” album as its flirtations with psychedelia, rock, and an alchemical stew of bossa, samba, pop, and jazz idioms make this album into more of an introduction to his 1970s work than a closing chapter on his 1960s` “canon”.

The bonus tracks here are particularly cool. The alternate instrumental take of “Tigre de Esso, que sucesso” is quite funkier, leaving it to our imagination what it would have sounded like if it was chosen as the album take. “Feio aerodinamico” would appear on Marcus’s next album, and here we get a very different instrumental version. The last song, “Beijos sideral” is likewise a piece of grandoise quase-psychedelic pop.

The usual suspects appearing in the lineup, with Victor Manga on drums this time and Nanâ Vasconcelos on percussion, oddly enough.

I found a cool review of this album in Portuguese that does a better job of describing the album and its context, including some interpretations of Paulo’s surreal lyrics on some of the tunes. Pity I have no time for a translation right now, so those who are interested can check it out via Google translator. Its written by Leonardo Bonfim at an online magazine called “Freakium!”

É o disco que marcou a mudança
definitiva na carreira de Marcos Valle, que deixou de soar brasileiro
para soar universal. Há influência de samba, jazz, soul,
psicodelia, Beatles, Burt Bacharach e Pilangragem, tudo fermentando
um som completamente original. Um texto de Marcos e Paulo Sergio explicava
alucinadamente o conceito do disco. Vale a pena reproduzí-lo
na íntegra:


“Se o filósofo Diógenes
vivesse hoje, procuraria um homem de verdade como os faróis de
um Mustang… Muito louco, pois só perdendo o juízo eu
acho a cabeça. E veja os Dentes Brancos do Mundo… sorrindo,
rindo, marijuanizado. E o mendigo que morreu enforcado no ‘hall’
(ou Hal) do elevador seria Cristo? Christo – próton – Deus –
Segundo Evangelho de S. Quentin. Das 3 às 6 graxa pelo chão,
torre de petróleo, meu pássaro é o avião,
a a ve a nave, amando o Tigre da Esso – que Sucesso. Neste mundo anormal
alucinógeno para ficar normal. Só perdendo o juízo
achamos a cabeça.”


A loucura do texto também estava
presente em canções como a “pilantra” “Os
Dentes Brancos do Mundo”, que citava maconha, masturbação
e ressaltava a perigosa frase do encarte: “Só perdendo o
juízo, eu acho a cabeça”; a soul-psicodélica
“Mustang Cor de Sangue” e a lounge “Tigre Esso que Sucesso”,
que faziam uma crítica bem humorada ao consumismo exagerado;
e na inusitada “O Evangelho Segundo San Quentin”, que lamentava
a morte do redentor enforcado no hall do elevador, traçando um
paralelo com o filme 2001 – Uma Odisséia no Espaço,
de Stanley Kubrick.


Outras canções também
se destacavam, como “Samba de Verão 2”, de letra bem
poética; “Dia de Vitória”, sobre a passeata
dos cem mil e o tema jazzy “Azimuth”.




Em 1969, os Valle já estavam bem
à frente da maioria dos artistas do cenário brasileiro.



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Marcos Valle – A viola enluarda (1968)

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VIOLA ENLUARADA

Marcos Valle

1967 on Odeon (MOFB 3531)

Reissue 2011 on Boxset `Marcos Valle Tudo`

1 Viola enluarada

(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

2 Próton elétron nêutron

(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

3 Maria da favela

(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

4 Bloco do eu sozinho

(Ruy Guerra, Marcos Valle)

5 Homem do meu mundo

(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

6 Viagem

(Marcos Valle, Ronaldo Bastos)

7 Terra de ninguém

(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

8 Tião Braço Forte

(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

9 O amor é chama

(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

10 Réquiem

(Ruy Guerra, Marcos Valle, Milton Nascimento, Ronaldo Bastos)

11 Pelas ruas do Recife

(Novelli, Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

12 Eu

(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)

Bonus Tracks

13. Terra de ninguém (instrumental)

14. Tião braço forte (instrumental)

15. O amor é chama (instrumental)

16. Ultimatum (single, festival song)

Marcos Valle – vocals and acoustic guitar

Eumir Deodato – piano, organ, arrangements on trakcs 9, 15, and 16

Dori Caymmi – arrangements on 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 14

Antônio Adolfo – arrangements on 2, 4, 7, 11 and 13

Oscar Castro Neves – arrangements on 12

Sérgio Barroso – bass

Juquinha – drums

Ugo Marotta – vibraphone

Roberto Menescal and Geraldo Miranda – acoustic guitar

Marçal – percussion

Copinha – flute

Hamilton – trumpet

Maurílio Santos and Edson Maciel – trombone

Jorginho – alto sax

J.T. Meirelles and Cipó – tenor sax

Alberto Gonçalves – baritone sax

Milton Nascimento – vocals on “Viola enluarada” and “Réquiem”

The Golden Boys – vocals on “Terra de ninguém”

Ana Maria Valle – vocal on “Próton, eléctron, nêutron”

Produced by by Milton Miranda

It almost seems unfair to have music this good all coming from the same pair of brothers. The Brothers Valle. After their return from the US, they came back sounding `more Brazilian than ever` with this unbelievably gorgeous release. One look at the credits and one is immediately impressed. If talent was measured in kilos or human tunnage and reflected in the price of an album, I could never ever afford this one. Aside from Deodato, who treats us again with organ and piano alongside his arranging skills, we also get more young arrangers like Dori Caymmi and Antônio Adolfo on this disc, along with one tune from Oscar Castro Neves. I highly recommend having your ears upholstered in velvet before putting on this album, as it is the best way to receive the soft, shimmering, eternal late summer evening of these songs. The title track leading off the album has all the soaring exhubrance of a ‘festival’ song, the famous events where composers would enter their songs into competition with each other. “A viola enluarda” is literally something of an anthem of the times, a prime example of the best of ‘música engajada’ (engaged, politicized music) and MPB. The song is also crowned with a climax of Milton Nascimento’s unmistakable voice joining the fray in the second half. I am also fairly sure I hear The Golden Boys on this song, but oddly they only receive credit on the album for another tune “Terra de Ninguém”. This song won a bunch of prizes at the musical festivals of the day, was rerecorded by several artists afterward. Milton lends his angelic crystal voice to the song “Requiem” later on, pregnant with the characteristic joyful melancholy he brings to nearly everything he sings. Neither Marcos in his 2011 notes nor Paulo mention this, but Beth Carvalho would sing “A viola enluarda” at a mini-festival organized across four consecutive Fridays at Teatro Sana Rosa in Nietrói, and recorded on an album “Musicanossa – O Som e O Tempo.”

The B-side of the single of this was the song “Pelas Ruas de Recife,” by the brothers Valle with Novelli, which is a pleasant frevo-inflected homage to the city of frevo, Recife, but not particularly my favorite of the genre of how-great-Recife-is-during-Carnaval-songs. This is just a personal quibble, because I have never been crazy about frevo and have had the good fortune to live in its epicenter for a brief period. And in the same way that MPB records frequently seemed compelled to include a baião in the 1970s, during the 60s the trend was including a frevo.

The second tune is a trippy piece sunsplashed in groovy day-glo that reinforces the sense that this album is moving away from the more straight-up jazz bossa of Marcos’s last domestic release. The propulsive “Próton elétron nêutron”, a vocal duet with sister Anamaria, and lyrics of atomic-age malaise and alienation from brother Paulo Sérgio where “total chaos is the grand finale”. Another rhythmically energetic tune with a jazzista, rather funky groove is “Tião braço forte”, which by the title I had hoped would be a critique of US intervention in Latin America but, well, just isn’t. It’s a great song though.

In the original liner notes by Paulo Sérgio Valle — which are microscopically reproduced in the artwork but thanks to a scan at 600 dpi are actually readable – he speaks of having come back from the US a few months before his brother, and getting a package in the mail containing new compositions that Marcos was too excited about to wait to deliver.

“Marcos musical fertility couldn’t fit into the baggage compartment of a Boeing and he sent me only days before his return a reel of tape, a sample of his new songs. In that moment I felt a profound change in his way of composing: a refinement, without triggering the excesses of perfectionism, and a more profound ‘brazilianness’, with falling into the naive exploitation of ‘folkclore’.”

He goes on, rather poetically of how they attempted to capture a certain transcendent snapshot of a difficult historical moment in this 1968 album. When he mentions the album credits he includes Victor Manga, who is for some reason left off the reissue information but was a frequent partner of Antonio Adolfo and is also included on the credits given here.

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Single of ‘Viola enluarda’ b/w Pelas ruas de Recife, from my collection

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Cover of another ‘compato’ with four tracks, photo included in boxset

Another highlight is “Bloco de eu sozinho”, a wonderfully melancholic song for carnaval written with Ruy Guerra, “Viagem” written with Ronaldo Bastos. It’s also a favorite of my friend Celia in Portugal, who otherwise “isn’t crazy about Marcos Valle.” But I don’t believe she has heard this album in its entirety and I am hoping it changes her opinion of the man.

Three instrumental mixes make up the bonus songs alongside one single, a tune entered into a Festival on TV Excelsior that took second place to a song by Tiaguara called Modinha. A bit of sloppiness on the 2011 reissue — the female vocalist on this tune is not credited here, so I am going to guess and say its Marcos’ sister Ana Maria.

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Marcos Valle – The Lost Sessions (1966)

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Marcos Valle

“The Lost Sessions”

Originally recorded in 1966

Released in 2011 in the boxset Marcos Valle Tudo

1. Os grilos (Crickets sing for Ana Maria)

2. Uma lágrima

3. Lá eu não vou

4. Batucada surgiu (Batucada)

5. Primeira solidão

6. O amor é chama

7. É preciso cantar

8. Pensa

9. Mais vale uma canção

10. Lenda

11. Se você soubesse

Bonus tracks

12. Os grilos (instrumental version)

13. Batucada surgiu (instrumental version)

Marcos Valle – piano, acoustic guitar, vocals on tracks 1, 4, and 7

Dom Salvador – piano

Unknown musicians – everything else

Arrangements and orchestrations – Eumir Deodato, Geraldo Vespar and Marcos Valle

Produced by Milton Miranda

This is actually the “last” disc in the boxset but I am sharing it out of respect for several regular blog readers, particularly pawylshyn, who know much more about Marcos than I do and who are being tortured by the long wait for this disc of ‘unreleased’ material. In fact quite a few tracks appeared on the expensive Japanese pressings of the normal albums (which I believe he has, all of them..) but this album’s release is still a blessing to the world This is the album Marcos was working on when his second album — containing the hits of the title track (Preciso Aprender Ser Só) and *especially* “Samba de Verão”, which was covered in the US by Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, and Ruben & The Jets — blew up on the record charts and he became an internationally-known name. Enter Ray Gilberto, most famous for writing that lovely song “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah”, but who at the time was writing English lyrics for Tom Jobim’s compositions to be released stateside. So basically they convinced Marcos to stop what he was working on, record a mostly instrumental album that I don’t think is very good (Braziliance!, although we’ve established opinions differ on that one) and then go to the US and make ‘Samba 68’ (which IS good). The abandoned album has had tracks show up here and there, mostly on the expensive Japanese reissues of some of his original catalog. But here is the original albumas it was when Marcos abandoned it. I’ll hremark again how cool I think it is that he left things just as they found them when they dug out the master tapes. No additional overdubs or studio trickery. The result is a somewhat spare but beautiful record that leaves it to our imaginations to ‘complete’. It would have come between two of Marcos’ most profound albums (O compositor e o cantor and A viola enluarda) had he not embarked on his “American journey”.

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Marcos Valle – Braziliance! (1967)

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Braziliance!

a música de Marcos Valle

1967 Odeon (MOFB 379)

Reissued 2011 as part of the box `Marcos Valle Tudo`

1 Os grilos

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

2 Preciso aprender a ser só

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

3 Batucada surgiu

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

4 Seu encanto

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)

5 Samba de verão

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

6 Vamos pranchar

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

7 Tando andei

(Marcos Valle)

8 Dorme profundo

(Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)

9 Deus brasileiro

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

10 Patricinha

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

11 Passa por mim

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

12 Se você soubesse

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

Marcos Valle – acoustic guitar, piano on ‘Patricinha’ and vocals on ‘Deus brasileiro’

Eumir Deodato – piano and arrangements on all tracks except ‘Patricinha’

Luiz Marinho and Sérgio Barroso – bass

Wilson das Neves – drums

Rubens Bassini and Jorge Arena – percussion

Ed Maciel, Raul de Souza, and Norato – trombone

Maurílio Santos – trumpet and flugelhorn

Aurino Ferreira and Alberto Gonçalves – baritone sax

Zé Bodega, Cipó, Walter Rosa – tenor sax

Paulo Moura and Jorginho – alto sax

Copinha, Jorginho, J.T.Meirelles – flute

Neco, Geraldo Vespar, Roberto Menescal – electric guitar

Marcos Valle doesn’t have much to say about this album. In fact it is the ONLY disc out of the 11 in this set in which he didn’t write an introductory blurb. It is almost as if he is saying, curtly, to the press, “No comment.” Well, I don’t have much to say either. It is the weakest disc in the box and contributes to bossa nova undeserving reputation as `elevator music` to those who don’t know any better.

He tells a bit of the backstory about this album only in passing, when introducing the “unreleased album” at the end of the boxset. In short, when “Samba de Verão” became a huge international hit and ended up being recorded in the USA by the likes of Connie Francis (!) and Johnny Mathis, record company executives were clammering at his door to bring him to the US and record. In a confusing rapid sequence of events which were only partly clarified for me by Marcos` notes in another disc in this set, but which in truth only left me confused until the contributions of one of my blog friends here, pawylshyn, set me straight, this album was NOT recorded in the US in spite of what I consider a very “American sound.” A production credit by West Coast lyricist Ray Gilbert (who, aside from writing English lyrics for songs penned by Brazilian composers, is probably most famous for the tune “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”) further threw me off in my having thought this album was recorded in Los Angeles or someplace. Nope, it was recorded in Lapa, RJ, but with Gilberto and Aloysio de Oliveira (founder of Elenco Records) and NOT Milton Miranda Once more, a whole bunch of great players here — it’s as if every album adds more incredible musicians who want to work with Marcos, this time bringing in new folks on horns like the inimitable Paulo Moura as well as Zé Bodega. Geraldo Vaspar and Roberto Menescal on electric guitar? This almost seems like a typographical error… Anyway, in spite of the huge cast of great musicians here, and the presence of Deodato again as arranger, the album has a very, well, “American” sound. Too many strings for my taste. Not enough horns, not enough jazz, and most definitely not enough of MARCOS VALLE. Still, there’s some gems here — its the first appearance of ‘Os grilos’ in this box, a song that appears on `Samba 68` with lyrics. It’s an infectiously good tune and would be recorded a few more times by Marcos himself. The version of “Samba de verão” is not too shabby, and “Batucada surgui” actually kind of smokes with jazz swing. Others are sadly watered down, musak-like versions of otherwise great songs. “É preciso aprender a ser só” being one of those. You can pick the others yourself. On the other hand this may be prime material for the crowd who likes ‘kitsch’ and cheesy lounge music to sit around and practice being ironic.

It truly seems like Marcos would rather just forget that he made this album. Obviously (see the comments below from readers), some people like this album or at least find it pleasant. I could call it pleasant, in fact, since it’s not as if it *offends* me or anything. It’s not terrible music; it’s just not terribly interesting.


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Marcos Valle – Samba "Demais" (1963) Remaster with bonus tracks

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SAMBA “DEMAIS”
Marcos Valle
1963 Odeon (MOFB 3376)

Reissue 2011 in Boxset `Marcos Valle Tudo` (EMI 026460-2)

1 Vivo sonhando
(Tom Jobim)
2 Amor de nada
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Moça flor
(Luiz Fernando Freire, Durval Ferreira)
4 Canção pequenina
(Pingarilho)
5 Razão do amor
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
6 Tudo de você
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Sonho de Maria
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Ela é carioca
(Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)
9 Ilusão à toa
(Johnny Alf)
10 Ainda mais lindo
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 E vem o sol
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
12 A morte de um Deus de sal (Roberto Menescal, Ronaldo Bôscoli)

BONUS TRACKS
13. Amor de nada (instrumental version)
14. Ainda mais lindo (instrumental version)

Marcos Valle – vocal, acoustic guitar
Eumir Deodato – piano, organ, arrangements
Sérgio Barroso – bass
Juquinha – drums
Ugo Marotta – vibraphone
Roberto Menescal, Geraldo Miranda – acoustic guitar
Marçal – percussion
Copinha – flute
Hamilton and Edson Maciel – trombone
Maurilio Santos – trumpet
Jorginho – alto sax
J.T. Meirelles and Cipó – tenor sax
Alberto Gonçalvez – baritone sax

Produced by Milton Miranda

Flabber general blurb about this boxset: IT’S ABOUT FUCKING TIME. At least half the albums in this box have been out of print for years, another shameful legacy of an unappreciative middle class (the only Brazilians with disposable income for non-pirated CDs) and an industry more concerned with quick profits than preserving its own legacy.

There have been a boat-load of career retrospective boxsets released in Brazil over the last year or so. I have not heard all of them, nor do I have interest in hearing all of them — but of the ones I own or have heard, this is by far the best. Marcos Valle was directly involved in the project with Charles Gavin and it seems like a real labor of love. The sound is nice and warm (it is hard for me to compare to original vinyl, since I have only heard one of these on vinyl in my entire life and would probably have to sell a kidney to buy one. Or, kidnap a street urchin and sell HIS kidney.) Each album except one includes bonus tracks – in many cases, just instrumental mixes of the same takes used on the album, in other cases B-sides to singles, and in still others alternate instrumental mixes.

Marcos also wrote introductions for each album (except one) – short but informative and adding a nice personal touch that is missing from boxes such as, for example, the Jorge Ben box.

This is not a *complete* discography for this time period. It is lacking three albums that I know of: “Samba 68” recorded for Verve in the United States, “O Fabuloso Fittipaldi” from 1973, a rare-as-fuck film soundtrack that I’ve never heard, and “Vila Sesamo”, the TV soundtrack for the Brazilian version of Sesame Street, which I uploaded a long time ago here. These were all released on different record labels, which surely accounts for their being left out of this box.

Marcos Valle and his brother Paulo Sérgio worked with a truly mind-blowing number of first class musicians and arrangers, as we will see as this boxset ‘unfolds’ on the tracker. Literally, too many ‘heavy weight’ figures to list here without the tracker rejecting my upload (again).

But perhaps the biggest testimony to Valle’s integrity is the inclusion of a bonus disc of a totally unreleased album. Not a collection of outtakes, b-sides, or rarities included on compilations or soundtracks. A full album that actually went unreleased, because it was never completed (we’ll talk about why not when we get to it). And what is *particularly* noble about this is that whereas many artists would have decided to ‘finish’ the album by recording new tracks to “complete their vision” (Brian Wilson and “Smile”, anyone?), Marcos made the commendable choice to… do nothing at all. He presents the album just as it was when it was abandoned — only a couple songs have vocal tracks, the rest leaving it to our imaginations. And it’s great.

——————–

MARCOS IN HIS OWN WORDS (free translation by Flabbergasted Enterprises LTD)

My first musical influences were in the northeastern music of Luiz Gonzaga and Jackson do Pandeiro, so much so that (many years later) I would begin to play the accordion. Afterwards came samba, Ravel, Debussy (at six years old, when I began to study piano and classical music), rock, jazz, black American music, and bossa nova. But on my first album `Samba “Demais”` what dominates is the influence of bossa – I was fascinated by the music of Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Carlos Lyra, Johnny Alf, Roberto Menescal, Sérgio Ricardo and others.

I have a certain special affection for this album – it contains ‘Sonho de Maria’, my first composition to be recorded, also in 1963, by the Tamba Trio. The lyrics are by my brother Paulo Sérgio (it was the beginning of our partnership) and the arrangements are by Eumir Deoodato (he was already immensely talented and alter we became great friends).

With ‘Samba “Demais”‘ I received my first accolades as an emerging composer and interpreter.

-Marcos Valle, 2011

FLABBER review of *this* album:

Valle’s debut record, which I believe has stayed in print pretty consistently, is solid, quality bossa nova, but it is not among my favorites in his catalog or in the genre. It got great reviews at the time and was nominated for several awards. It’s a strong album, really it is. My problems with it are quibbles, really. Released when Marcos was all of 20 years old, it is the only of his albums to feature other composer’s work: one of the most remarkable things about his discography is the immense number of songs written by him and his brother Paulo Sérgio Valle, when the standard in Brazil at the time was for singers to rely heavily on other composers. And while the compositions on this record are fine in themselves, his SECOND album really blows me away, so I can’t help thinking of this as a ‘first step’, which obviously it was (being a debut album, duh..). And although the material of other composers is well chosen, some of the lyrics (including some of Paulo Sérgio, who would only get better and better over the years) are fairly trite drivel.

The lyrics on this album ask the question: How many different ways can you compare a woman to a flower? Rhyme-laden, saccharine lyrics like those on ‘Moça Flor’ are probably what artists like Nara Leão and others had in mine when they criticized bossa nova for a sentimentalism that was increasingly out of touch with the turbulent times and vast social inequities and injustices of the 1960s:

“Moça flor
Tem a cor do amor
Seu olhar a brilhar
E essa lágrima leve querendo chegar”

… I tried to translate this into English but every time I started, I would throw up in my mouth a little bit. Let me try my own bilingual musical criticism instead: Cada um tem seu gosto, mas… isso é uma grande merda. // Everyone is entitled to their own taste, but… this is total crap. Still, apparently a lot of people DO like this song as its been recorded quite a few times.
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A look at the musician and arranger credits should be enough to convince any fan of Brazilian music to give this a try if you don’t already know the album. The arrangements from Eumir Deodato are first-class and the musicianship is superb. If the album as a whole doesn’t blow you away on first listen, don’t worry – his albums kept getting better, and we’re going to listen to a bunch of them together! This is a strong start for one of Brazil’s most prolific talents.

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João Donato – A Bad Donato (1970)

joão donato
joão donato

João Donato
“A Bad Donato”
Released 1970 on Blue Thumb
This reissue 2004 Dubas Music (Brasil)

1 The Frog (A Rã) 2:37
2 Celestial Showers 2:36
3 Bambú 2:20
4 Lunar Tune 4:56
5 Cadê Jodel? (The Beautiful One) 2:07
6 Debutante’s Ball 3:00
7 Straight Jacket 3:27
8 Mosquito (Fly) 2:59
9 Almas Irmãs 1:53
10 Malandro 2:32

‘ “A Bad Donato” was an attempt to break into the contemporary overseas market. I wanted to be successful and bossa nova wasn’t my thing anymore, it was too much singing — João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim were all working closely with lyrics. Frank Sinatra had recorded their songs. Yet, my music didn’t fit into any genre, or if it did it was jazz that wasn’t such a commercial success. Jazz musicians were moving more into popular music, such as Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery, and they were starting to play to big audiences. Fusion came along and my record was something like that, a fusion of Brazilian music with jazz rock and electronica.’

“I don’t play acoustic piano on this record at all, just the keyboards. At the time, music was very raw, noisier. The Beatles were happening, shouting out their lyrics, and Jimi Hendrix … who shouted with his guitar. And I made the noisiest record I can ever remember making.”

–João Donato, 2004, liner notes

João Donato – organ, piano
Ernie Watts, Jack Nimitz, Bill Hood, Don Menza – reeds
Pete Candoli, Conte Candoli, Jimmy Zito – trumpets
Jimmy Cleveland, Ken Shroyer – trombone
Bud Shank – flute
Oscar Castro Neves – acoustic guitar
Warren Klein – electric guitar
Chuck Domanico – bass
Mark Stevens, Paulinho Magalhães, Dom Um Romão – drums
Joe Porcaro, Emil Reichards – percussion

All songs by João Donato
Arranged by João Donato and Eumir Deodato

Produced by Emil Richards
Recording engineer – Hank Cicalo (A&M)
Mixing engineer – Gary Kellgren (The Record Plant)
Photography and design – Tom Wilkes & Berry Feinstein (Camouflage Productions)

This record has so accumulated so much respect among the “rare groove” crowd that it is no longer particularly rare or known. As the quotes above show, this could be looked at an effort by Donato to “cash in”, so to speak, but with lovely results. Having been approached by the label Blue Thumb to make any kind of record he wanted, he felt encouraged to update his sound and gave him a bunch of cash to go buy new electronic instruments and contemporary albums to contextualize them. The only old tune on here is the first one, ‘The Frog (A Rã)’, which had been a hit for Sergio Mendes and would be recorded quite a few other times (including by Gal Costa on an album he arranged for her, ‘Gal Canta’). The rest of the material is written for the session. Also unique is that he wanted to have “two of everything” — drummers, guitarists, bassists… The two-bass idea didn’t work out, however. Donato chose to use a bunch of musicians from Stan Kenton’s orchestra, in particular Bud Shank who had helped João out considerably after his move to the United States, along with Brazilian luminarias like Dom Um and Oscar Castro Neves. They brought Eumir Deodato in after the sessions had already begun, and João is right to point out that this collaboration precedes ‘Thus Sprach Zarathrustra’ by two years but basically sets the blueprint for it. And the closer you look and listen, the more it is obvious that this album is not at all about ‘cashing in’, as much as jazz purists would have called this album a sell-out. Donato was taking his cues from what interested him in contemporary music while dealing with the perpetual musical wanderlust he has always demonstrated. When he was not collaborating with some of the most significant figures of musical hybridities in the second half of the twentieth century (Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Eddie Palmieri and Dizzy Gillespie for starters) Donato was constantly pioneering trends and then abandoning them for new pastures while others made them into successful and lucrative genres. From when he essentially invented bossa nova on the accordian (inspiring João Gilberto), inaugurated bossa-jazz combos, or making one of the adventurous early jazz-funk-rock/fusion albums in ‘A Bad Donato’, he was always one step ahead of just about everyone. And in all this electric career his playing and arranging style has always been inimitably his own and warmly recognizable. Every track on this album is intense even when offset by sunny jazz-pop sensibilities. The two-drummer approach lends an almost ominous quality to certain moments much like double-tracked drums can achieve. Personally I would like to have heard what some these tunes sounded like with only one drummer (Dom Um Romão, principally) just to hear the difference, as sometimes I wonder if its a touch ‘too much’ having two — although, as is the case with many a classic album, I don’t really think I would want it any other way. Not much point in picking highlights since this short record is a winner from start to finish, but lately I have been particularly fond of ‘Celestial Showers’, the appropriately-titled ‘A Lunar Tune’, and the percussion-heavy ‘Debutante’s Ball’.

It is nice that the reissue CD prompted João Donato to write new liner notes reflecting back on this album which. It is a drag that they couldn’t find some outtakes or bonus tracks from the session, however — since the original album clocks in at a mere 28 minutes of music. This is the first official release of the album on CD.