Nara Leão – Dez Anos Depois (1971)

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Nara Leão
Dez Anos Depois
Released 1971
This edition, Japanese SHM mastering

Recorded in Paris and Rio de Janeiro

LP 1

1. Insensatez (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
2. Samba de uma nota só (Tom jobim e Newton Mendonça)
3. Retrato em branco e preto (Tom Jobim e Chico Buarque)
4. Corcovado (Tom Jobim)
5. Garota de Ipanema (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
6. Pois é (Tom Jobim e Chico Buarque)
7. Chega de Saudade (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
8. Bonita (Tom Jobim e Ray Gilbert)
9. Você e eu (Carlos Lyra e Vinícius de Moares)
10. Fotografia (Tom Jobim)
11. O grande amor (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
12. Estrada do sol (Tom Jobim e Dolores Duran)

LP 2

1. Por toda minha vida (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
2. Desafinado (Tom jobim e Newton Mendonça)
3. Minha namorada (Carlos Lyra e Vinícius de Moraes)
4. Rapaz de bem (Jony Alf)
5. Vou por aí (Baden Powell e Aloysio de Oliveira)
6. O amor em paz (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
7. Sábia (Tom Jobim e Chico Buarque)
8. Meditação (Tom Jobim e Newton Mendonça)
9. Primavera (Carlos Lyra e Vinícius de Moraes)
10. Este seu olhar (Tom Jobim)
11. Outra vez (Tom Jobim)
12. Demais (Tom Jobim e Aloysio de Olieveira)

I was listening to the radio the other day and caught the second half of an interview with the daughter of Nara Leão who was there to talk about Nara’s new revamped website and other subjects. She briefly mentioned this album, and how her mother had used it as a way to revisit her formative musical years as “the muse of bossa nova”, in the time before she became estranged from that crowd, a process which included switching record labels, hanging out more and more at the Zicartola club, and favoring protest music while accusing bossa nova of idle romanticism and middle-class alienation. By 1970 she was living in France and shortly about to retire from the music business almost entirely: she opted to spend most of the seventies raising her children, and earning her PhD in psychology (!!). So this album is kind of a sweet swan song, a double album overflowing with the canonical bossa nova repertoire presented in tastefully spare arrangements. The first of the two LPs is entirely acoustic, while the second LP brings in the arrangers Roberto Menescal (her first guitar instructor along with Carlos Lyra, incidentally), Luis Eça, and Rogério Duprat, who add orchestration and occasionally rhythm parts.

Nara wouldn’t record again for another five years, and that album (Meu Primeiro Amor, 1975) would steer clear of bossa nova and revel in songs and songwriters from earlier eras. She didn’t tour or play live during this period, but decided to jump back into the show business racket with both feet in 1977 after she learned that she was suffering from a malignant brain cancer.

The first time I heard this album I felt there was something distant, disembodied, or disconnected about some of it, as if Nara was looking back on the decade that had just passed from a long distance provided by the reflective insights of maturity. Well it wasn’t until looking at the credits that I understood that there was in fact an issue of distance at work, at least through the second half of it: not just because Nara was recorded in France, but because everything ELSE was recorded in Rio. That is to say, Nara’s guitar and vocal were tracked separately from the accompaniment and orchestrations, which were done at a studio in Rio. The exception to this is the second acoustic guitar provided by “special guest” Tuca – who I believe was also living in Paris at the time and recording with people like Françoise Hardy. So my imagining of the process is like this – Nara and Tuca go into Polydor, France, to be recorded by the mysterious “Mr.Bonzon” listed on the album jacket, then the tapes are flown to Rio where the songs used on the second LP are sweetened with arrangements by Menescal, Eça, and Rogério Duprat. Rogério gives us two memorable tracks in his best baroque embellishment (and both featuring harpsichord), “Minha namorada” and “Primavera.” While there is nothing to complain about with these arrangements from such talented company, I confess a predilection for the unadorned simplicity of the first half of the set. Just two acoustic guitars, the occasional stray piano line, and Nara’s alluring voice. Oh, and a blast of annoying bongos thrown in there on one track that shall remain a surprise for you.

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Luiz Eça y La Familia Sagrada – Onda Nova do Brasil (1970)

Luiz Eça y La Familia Sagrada
Recorded 1970*
Released on Discos AVV SA (Mexico) – AVV-1136, 1978

My friend in Italy is setting me up with a bunch of music on one of my favorite labels, VampiSoul. This one is the first of the bunch I will share with you, and it is really an amazing delight for the ears. One of the biggest aural surprises I have had in a long time was putting this album on and thinking, how the HELL did this go unreleased for 8 years — and to all appearances has never seen an official release in Brazil itself.

Luiz Eça, the innovative pianist behind the Tamba Trio (and later the Tamba 4), explores more pop territory on this album, with only one of his own compositions making an appearance. Classic tunes from Milton Nascimento and Fernando Brandt, an original interpretation of the oft-covered ‘Pais Tropical’ from Jorge Ben features Wilson Simonal belting it out, several songs from my favorite freak Antônio Adolfo, and even a Roberto Carlos tune. The song ‘Yemele’ (by Luis Carlos Vinhas and Chico Feitoso, mispelled on the CD jacket), had been recorded in a very funky version by Maria Bethania a year or two earlier and may have been an inspiration for this reading.

Sr. Eça has help from a HUGE ensemble of amazing musicians. Check this out:

Wow you can possibly go wrong with this? Also it seems that Nelson Angelo, Joyce, and Nana Vasconcelos had a habit of working on albums that never got released in their day.

If you enjoy this album even a fraction as much as I do, I think it will improve your day considerably.

* According to VampiSoul this was recorded in Brazil, but I question this. Most if not all of the musicians participating on this album were hiding out in Mexico after the military counter-revolution issued constitutional act AI-5 and things got *really* bad. In fact the person responsible for the eventual release of the album, Rogelio Villareal, ran a hotel chain at which tons of bossa nova and MPB starts took refuge and performed regularly. As it seems rather unlikely to me that a huge group of musicians like this would go back to the dictatorship to record this album, all signs point to it being recorded in Mexico itself.

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