Jackson do Pandeiro – Forró do Jackson (1958)

Jackson do Pandeiro
“Forró do Jackson”
Released 1958 on Copacabana Records (CLP 3068 / CLP 11086 )
This CD pressing, Copacabana (99301)
Pressed by Sonopress Brasil, probably 1995

Above are two of my personal favorites, tracks penned by the Rosil Cavalcanti, also a Paraíban who found a second home in Recife just like Jackson, and who aside from contributing some of the most memorable moments of Brazilian music, also played football and worked at the Ministry of Agriculture.

01. Falso Toureiro
(Heleno Clemente – José Gomes)

02. Rosa
(Ruy de Moraes e Silva)

03. Ele Disse
(Edgar Ferreira)

04. Forró em Limoeiro
(Edgar Ferreira)

05. Cumpadre João
(Rosil Cavalcanti – Jackson do Pandeiro)

06. Meu Enchoval
(Gordurinha)

07. Moxotó
(José Gomes – Rosil Cavalcanti)

08. 17 na Corrente
(Manoel Firmino Alves – Edgar Ferreira)

09. Coco do Norte
(Rosil Cavalcanti)

10. Êta Baião
(Marçal Araujo)

11. Cajueiro
(Raimundo Baima – Jackson do Pandeiro)

The sweet smell of São João bonfires is already wafting through my windows. Unfortunately in some strange postmodern (or is it post-ironic?) twist, I have been without running water in my house for five days now, I’ve been sick with alcohol poisoning from someone serving “moonshine” in a single mixed-drink I had over the weekend, and the big musical attraction for São João here has nothing whatsoever to do with “cultura Nordestina”, except for the fact that they are very popular here, numerically speaking probably more popular than the home-grown sounds of pé-de-serra, ciranda, or samba de coco. Indeed, the big attraction today is romantic sertaneja duo BRUNO E MARRONE!! Now, if you happen to have heard any of the GOOD sertaneja from the earlier decades of the twentieth century and mostly made in the south and center-west of Brazil… this has nothing to do with that whatsoever. Think of Lefty Frizzell or Hank Williams Sr. versus Garth Brooks or Alan Jackson, and you get the idea. This stuff is totally corporate, totally mass-marketed, so much so that I am having trouble finding an un-protected YouTube clib to subject you for my masochistic gratification. For tonight’s debacle, the city has erected a stage in the central plaza that is two or three times the size of what we had here for Carnaval. No doubt built according to the duo’s megalomaniac specs, the funny thing is that its a small plaza and I have no idea where the audience is going to fit. The other problem is that some of my friends here genuinely like this crap, so I have to respectfully keep my mouth shut. Although I drew a line when it came to the stage – I was remarking on its absurd size and one of them said, “well they have huge band,” to which I responded..”Um, bullshit. There were a LOT more people crammed onto the stage during carnaval and nobody was seriously inconvenienced by it. It’s just the ego of these famous guys..” Here is a clip, probably filmed on a cell phone, of the duo playing in what seems to be a smallish place in comparison

Another funny thing is that comparatively speaking, there is MUCH worse out there than these guys. At least they seem to avoid the tendency towards over-sized ten-gallon hats and women in trashy outfits on stage who pole dance on and around the musicians and singers. But its still crap, and crap from Goiás, which is far away from the Nordeste. I wish I had that second-hand car I’ve been thinking of buying, so I could kidnap Ariana Suassuna and bring him here to brow-beat these two with his crypto-fascist regionalist puritisms, bludgeoning them into submission with his ancient croaking voice until they beg for mercy and play some damn pé de serra.
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All of which brings me to the point of today’s post, Jackson do Pandeiro. It’s been my intention to post something every day during the regional mayhem that is Festa Junina and São João. I am getting rather tired of all of it, frankly. Between the World Cup and this daily party, I can’t get a lot of my work done, at least not the parts that depend on the participation of other people. But then I get revived when I randomly happen across a stage of *decent* pé de serra, or when I put a record like this one — a classic Jackson do Pandeiro from 1958, with a classic cover of him in repose in the lap of the gorgeous Almira.

Jackson (who also went by “Jack” and also “Jaques” in earlier phases of his career) is LONG overdue for a proper box-set treatment of his discography that surpasses the weak ‘retrospective’ type CDs like the “Millenium” collection, one of the only ‘best-of’ packages I think is still currently in print. The guy was a larger-than-life figure, charismatic and innovative, and to my ears he is as important as Luiz Gonzaga, although I understand all the social and historical reasons why Gonzaga’s legacy is more prominent in Brazil as a whole. This record, like just about he everything he did, has no bad songs on it. The tracks “17 na corrente” and “Coco do Norte” were both hits but any of these songs will get a dance floor moving and most of them will be recognizable to the discerning ear of many a fan of Brazilian music. Unfortunately “Forró em Limoeiro”, a song that did a lot for his career and earned him enough money to go and schmooze with music journalists and `ipmortant` industry people in Rio de Janeiro`, sounds like it was sourced from a 78-rotations record rather than a master tape, but the music still shines. Here is a clip of him performing it a good fifteen years later, along with some commentary from various people about his tremendous contributions, principally in the area of syncopated rhythm —

With any luck this MPB Especial which see a DVD release someday if TV Cultura can liberate the tapes. And HOLY CRAP what do we have here?? “O Canto da Ema” performed Jackson and João do Vale (who has a writing credit on this song) performing inside what seems like a train car or a small diner…

Too bad its only a minute long, because its a riveting minute. I should have more incisive critique about this album but I am simply enjoying far too much coming across these great clips of Jackson. He managed to appear in 10 different films during his lifetime (I don’t have any ready statistics on this but I believe his colleague Gonzagão has him beat in terms of film appearances..). This montage shows him in full cangaçeiro regalia, in proper São João spirit:

More sources on Jackson do Pandeiro

An interesting-looking book that I hope to read someday soon, by Fernando Mouro and Antonio Vicente

A rather simple website that does not have a ton of information, but DOES have a fairly thorough collection of song lyrics in an easily accessible format, plus some choice quotes (under ‘depoimentos’) from famous artists about the importance of Sir Jaques. Check it out here at directly in your browser as http://jacksondopandeiro.digi.com.br/

And another website, a bit more professional design than the last but is a bit more clunky to navigate. It does have a fairly detailed discography although I have reasons to doubt that all the dates are correct, it is still a useful resource: http://jacksondopandeiro.com.br/

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Luiz Gonzaga – Luiz "Lua" Gonzaga (1961)

*note: Gonzaga did not actually have a mustache in the photo above..

Luiz Gonzaga com Acompanhamento Típico
“Luiz ‘Lua’ Gonzaga” Released 1961 on RCA Victor (BBL-1115)

1. Capitão Jagunço baião (Paulo Dantas/Barbosa Lessa)
2. Baldrama Macia rasqueado (Arlindo Pinto/Anacleto Rosas)
3. Creuza Morena, valsa (Lourival Passos/Luiz Gonzaga)
4. Dedo Mindinho, baião (Luiz Gonzaga)
5. Amor que Não Chora, toada (Erasmo Silva)
6. O Tocador Quer Beber, xote (Carlos Diniz/Luiz Gonzaga)
7. Na Cabana do Rei, baião (Jaime Florence/Catulo de Paula)
8. Aroeira, xote (Barbosa Lessa)
9. Rosinha, baião (Nelson Barbosa/Joaquim Augusto)
10. Corridinho Canindé, baião (Luiz Gonzaga/Lourival Passos)
11. Só Se Rindo, xote (Alvarenga/Rancinho)
12. Alvorada da Paz, marcha (Luiz Gonzaga/Lourival Passos)

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 -1 db -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced -> ID Tags done in foobar2000 v.1.0.1.
Absolutely no EQ or noise-reduction!

As far as I can tell this was Luiz Gonazaga’s first long-player recorded FOR the format of a long-playing record or LP. Previous to this his work has been on 78s and singles. The record is also unique in that it lacks any songs from his famous partnerships with Humberto Teixeira or Zedantas. There is quite a lot of variety on this album, reflecting how Gonzaga was simultaneously “inventing” a genre of music and also constantly expanding its boundaries. The record starts off roaring with a tale of Canudos besieged by the militias of the First Republic, with their captain in the role of Judas against Antônio Conselheiro, the “messiah” of the sertão. But then the second cut, Baldrama Macia, takes us far from the northeast, to a different style of caipira or ‘country / folk’ music from the state of Mato Grosso and the area around its capital, Cuiabá. The style is called “rasqueado” and I don’t know too much about it, but apparently it grew from the riverine cultures spanning Paraguay to Mato Grosso and included the influence of polka music. To my ears it bears a curious resemblance to certain types of Mexican folk musics far to the north. The third tune, Crueza Morena, is in the mold of a traditional ‘valsa’ sertaneja, the very waltz that found its way to Brazil via the Portuguese court culture when the royal family briefly resided in Rio de Janeiro in the early nineteenth century, and would influence everyone from Villa Lobos to Pixinguinha. The next cut, a pure baião written entirely by Gonzaga himself, is a fine tune, nothing wrong with it in the least, but it pales compared to the song that follows it. “Amor que não chora”, written by the famous samba-cançao composer Erasmo Silva, was the big hit off this record. Just a gorgeous tune, everything about it complementing everything else in perfect proportions of instrumentation, vocal, lyric..

“Lugar que tem chuva, tem felicidade
Amor que não chora, não sente saudade”

Such simplicity executed with deceptively perfect rhythmic exactitude. The only other lines in the tune:

“Meu amor me abandonou, eu não sei qual a razão
Hoje está fazendo um mês que eu fiquei na solidão

Ai, ai, meu amor não chorou
Ai, ai, meu amor me deixou”

All of these are case-book examples of a vocalist knowing how to drag a line behind the beat, then speed it up in just the right place, where the phrasing is more essential than hitting all the notes – which, incidentally, Gonzaga always nailed with his big, expansive voice. Looking at the song structurally or compositionally, “there’s nothing to it,” as the English expression goes — but that’s part of the beauty, of course.

This is followed by a short song detailing the legal campaign to insure the rights of sanfoneiros everywhere to have a drink while on the bandstand. During the Estado Novo of Getulio Vargas (1937-1945), forró musicians were forbidden to drink on the bandstand due to the belief that they would incite riots and unrest and bring back the chaos of the cangaçeiros like Lampião who caused the government so much trouble. The repressive, discriminatory, and senseless law stayed on the books long after the fall of Vargas. Since Gonzaga had come to prominence with plenty of hit songs during this period, he had simply had enough of having to stay ‘dry’ during performances and wrote this song in protest. The song was popular and powerful enough that in 1962 the subject was to be brought before the Câmara of Deputies, where a nearly unanimous vote was held, “O Tocador Pode Beber.” A historic political victory in the name of popular culture.

The second side of this album is also quote good although not as strong as the first half. “Na Cabana do Rei” is another melodically lovely xotê about singing toads and pigeons. The next few tunes kind of float right through my consciousness without leaving much behind except for “Corridinho Canindé” which features a slick refrain of ‘ziggy-ziggy-boom’ as well as a tuba. This makes me happy. And actually the most beguiling track here closes out the album “Alvorada de Paz”, which is a marcha in the style of a samba-exultação, that is to say a patriotic samba singing the praises of not only Brazil but its leaders as well — in this case the election of President Jânio Quadros. Quadros was only president for about eight months, famously resigning his office and claiming that “occult forces” were conspiring against him. This is a literal translation from the Portuguese, which really only means “hidden forces.” But I think that if we take Quadros’ resignation letter literally, we will realize he was talking about the RECORD INDUSTRY, the Devil’s Plaything, more powerful even than the derrubador dos presidentes Carlos Lacerda, and thus by extension — Luiz Gonzaga and his “homage” to his presidency. In this line of reasoning, Gonzagão is responsible not only for the collapse of Jânio Quadros administration, but also the military coup that seized power from his vice-president João Goulart in 1964, and the entire military regime that followed. An still the cangaçeiros await their real revenge. If you play this record backwards, you will realize that forró is not just party music. It’s the Devil’s Music, pure and simple.

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Azulão – Eu Não Socorro Não (1975)

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Azulão “Eu não socorro não”
Released 1975 on Esquema (1239023)

01. Nega buliçosa (Tiago Duarte)
02. Forró do Compadre Solon (José Silva – Ivan Bulhões)
03. Mané gostoso (Lidio Cavalcante – Adolfo da Modinha)
04. Tropé de cavalo (Genesio Guedes – Abenildo Lucena)
05. A filha de Mané Bento (João Gonçalves – Genival Lacerda)
06. Esquenta moreninha (Assisão)
07. Eu não socorro não (F. Azulão)
08. Candieiro de Iaiá (Brito Lucena)
09. Severina xique xique (João Gonçalves – Genival Lacerda)
10. Tem que ter suor (Antonio Barros)
11. Canção do roedor (Cecéu)
12. Rosa mulher (Agripino Aroeira – Rosilda Santos)

Produced by Arnaldo Schneider
with assistance from Antônio C.
Recorded at Estúdio Hara
Sound technician and mixing – Max Pierre
Record pressed by Tapecar
Album cover by Joselito

Transcription details:
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 -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced

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This is the glorious first album by Azulão, born Francisco Bezerra de Lima. Known as “O Grande Pequeno” on account of his very diminutive height, there is nothing small about this guy’s voice or his charisma. He plays forró pé de serra in an old-skool style. When I first heard of him I was told he was in the same lineage (linha) as Jackson do Pandeiro, and while I was skeptical of such a bold comparison, I was also curious enough to buy his most recent album (released a few years ago) and he most definitely merits it. Since then I have had the pleasure of seeing him perform live during the season of Festas Juninas and must say he put on one of the best live shows I have had the pleasure of seeing. Azulão is a fixture in the music scene of Caruarú, a city in the interior agreste region of Pernambuco that is famous both for being the mecca of forró as well as holding the Guinness Book record for the largest outdoor concert(s) in the world, held during the São João festivities. Although he has been recording music for 35 years and performing music for much longer, Azulão remains something of a ‘best kept secret’, a forró celebrity in Pernambuco but seemingly under-appreciated everywhere else. I am still exploring Azulão’s discography but aside from some clunkers he recorded in the 80s, mostly due to 80s production values, it is hard to go wrong with this guy’s records and they are all worth checking out.

This record has a wonderfully crisp, full sound to it with top-notch production values complimenting the top-notch musicianship. Note the prominence given to the cavaquinho on this record – an instrument typically associated with samba, it was Luiz Gonzaga who first began using it on forró records. Although not uncommon in this setting these days, it is also not necessarily “essential” to playing pé de serra (the core instruments being sanfona, zabumba, and triangle), and so it is a delicious treat to have on this record. The title song is a bit of word play, which I would have missed if I had not been enlightened by proprietor of the Hotel Portela. The brief lyrics, repeated twice, are the cry of a man whose had enough of being mistreated by his lady. When he says that if he saw her being thrown into a fire and burning up, he wouldn’t save her (‘eu não socorro não’), the sonority of the sung refrain also comes out as ‘eu não sou corno, não’, the “corno” being the term for a man whose partner is famously cheating on him — in English, a “cuckold, Spanish “cornudo” or “cabrón”, Italian “cornuto.”

For better or worse, nothing is catching fire this week as the region where I live is being drenched in rain that has not stopped for four straight days. But if you can’t find a bonfire on your block, put on this record and start your own. Even if you don’t dance the forró or are perpetually dancing by yourself like me (which is particularly silly and impossible with forró), this album makes for a great listening experience under any conditions.

I have a handful of photos that I took of Azulão performing live, somewhere on a hard drive, but in lieu of their absence here is a look at the man in the present day from a pic I found on the interwebs

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Azulão – Eu não socorro não (1975) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

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Vamos Dançar Quadrilha (1976)

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“Vamos Dançar Quadrilha”
Passarela LP – 60.081 (Rozenblit)
Released 1976

Music by Martins da Sanfona
Dance calling / announcing by J. Austregésilo
Artistic Direction: Nelson Ferreira
Recorded in Recife, Pernambuco

Transcription details:
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 -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced

Special thanks to “Helida” for writing her name on the album jacket and label three or four times.

The tracks:

01 – Os Cumprimentos
02 – O Passo da Chuva
03 – Dança do Xis
04 – A Dança da Roda
05 – O Túnel
06 – Os Cumprimentos (sem marcação)
07 – O Passo da Chuva (sem marcação)
08 – Dança do Xis (sem marcação)
09 – A Dança da Roda (sem marcação)
10 – O Túnel (sem marcação)

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So here we are, the first-ever INSTRUCTIONAL DANCE RECORD at Flabbergasted Vibes! This is an album teaching you how to join a gang and deal drugs. Wait, that’s not right… This is an album teaching you how to square-dance, Brazilian-style. For some etymological reason I simply do not know, the same word for square-dance or ‘hoe-down’ is also the same word used for gangs in Brazilian Portuguese. So you have to be careful when you are invited to join in a quadrilha and, let me tell you, I found out the hard way.

This is a frivolous post. I was drinking earlier during the Brazil v. North Korea World Cup match. I am well sobered up now but it doesn’t take me much to get me tipsy and so I don’t have much to say other than this record is rather silly but should make some of you happy. The first side of the album divides the dance into its respective five parts, and has an announcer calling out instructions to all of you dancing along at home (“Grab your partner” kind of stuff…” seriously, this is Brazilian square-dancing..). The music is loosely forró with sertanejo tendencies (I just coined this as a genre..), traditional music for this kind of dance which takes place in the northeast of Brazil during the “Festa Junina” leading up to the holiday of São João. Written and performed by accordian / sanfona player Martins da Sanfona and an uncredited band, the same exact music is repeated on the second side but without the announcer, so you can practice what you’ve learned on your own. If you are digging the music, for what its worth it sounds quite a bit better on the second side, due to the studio having rolled off the higher frequencies on the first side to make room for the announcer’s instructions to cut through the mix.. This was essentially a party record for the youngsters (right before they were recruited into drugs-and-arms-dealing gangs, of course), so crank it up at your next party and see what happens.

The instructions are broken down rather systematically on the album’s back cover, photographed and included with the other files here, for those interested.

Music scholar, writer, and author of many frevo songs Nelson Ferreira is credited with “artistic direction” but I think that basically means he was basically a consultant at the Rozenblitz recording studio and label at the time.

Vamos Dançar Quadrilha (1976) in 320 kbs em pee tree

Vamos Dançar Quadrilha (1976) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO