Cartola – Verde Que Te Quero Rosa (1977)

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Cartola
“Verde Que Te Quero Rosa”
1977 RCA Records

Angenor de Oliveira, otherwise known as Cartola, was without doubt one of the greatest songwriters that ever lived. You don’t need the many tribute records with star-studded lists of participants to know this. You just need to listen to the man perform his own music. A founder of the Mangueira Samba School and the composer of their first samba, Cartola was a prolific composer in the 30s and 40s, with artists such as Carmen Miranda, Mário Reis, Francisco Alvez, and Silvio Caldas all recording his songs. He was esteemed by Hector Villa-Lobos, who invited him to visit with and perform for Leopold Stokowski when that composer visited Brazil in 1940 and wanted to know the “authentic” popular artists of Brazil. He recorded “Quem me Vê Sorrindo” on that occasion, on the S.S.Urugai! Cartola was also responsible for running the famous but short-lived samba venue Zicartola (a combination of his name with his wife’s, Zica, who ran it with him). Sadly, in a story all too similar to many a North American blues or jazz musician, Cartola himself dropped out of musical visibility and ended up working odd jobs such as a clerk for the Ministry of Agriculture and at a car wash. It was at the latter where he was “rediscovered” by a musical journalist and old friend who brought him back into active involvement with the music world.

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A classic. An essential. A staple that your home should no more be without than rice, beans, or OxiClean products. And in fact in many Brazilian homes this album is just as common as arroz or feijão and is kept on the same shelf. (OxiClean, on the other hand, stays under the sink).

This album, the third long-player he recorded, was his first record for RCA, and features material ranging from 1958 up to its release in 77. The majority of tunes are written by him, some with cowriters like his old friend Carlos Cachaça. One exception to that is “Pranto de Poeta” written by Guilherme de Brito and Nelson Cavaquinho, with Nelson sitting in on the performance.

The record was produced by music writer Sergio Cabral. My first impression of this album, after hearing the first two released on Discos Marcus Pereira, was that it was too slick and overproduced. On subsequent listens I found it to be….. still too slick and overproduced. But I have to admit that it actually does not distract from the merits of the incredible songwriting and strong performances throughout. However, you can take a wonderful song like “Autonomia” and orchestrate it, open it with an intro on a (very well-recorded) grand piano, and it sounds beautiful. But you can also take it to its bare knuckles, like on the posthumous EP-length album “Documento Inédito.” It’s up to the individual preference I suppose, but I prefer the latter. As much as the album might be over-produced, nothing is *ruined* here. There’s no synthesizers, or rocked-out drums, or any number of other things that could have been done to mangle it. Sergio Cabral’s intention, as insinuated in the liner notes, was to give Cartola the magisterial, kingly treatment and carinho that so many felt he deserved. And the record successfully does that. I hesitate to make such a broad generalization, especially as an ‘outsider’ to a culture, but if there was ever an artist and songwriter in Brazil who seems to have left virtually nobody untouched in a deeply meaningful, emotional way with his music, that would be Cartola.

“Verde que te quero rosa” also has one of the best album covers of all time in any genre.

If you are still not convinced, watch THIS CLIP
Cartola playing the song “Os Dois” for his wife Zica, for whom he wrote it on the eve of their marriage. One of the many amazing moments in the documentary CARTOLA: MUSICA PARA OS OLHOS, recently released on DVD (finally!!).

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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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Nelson Cavaquinho – Nelson Cavaquinho (1973)

nelson cover

1973
Odeon
SMOFB 3809

1 Juizo final

(Élcio Soares – Nelson Cavaquinho)

2 Folhas secas

(Guilherme de Brito – Nelson Cavaquinho)

3 Caminhando

(Nourival Bahia – Nelson Cavaquinho)

4 Minha festa

(Guilherme de Brito – Nelson Cavaquinho)

5 Mulher sem alma

(Guilherme de Brito – Nelson Cavaquinho)

6 Vou partir

(Jair Costa – Nelson Cavaquinho)

7 Rei vadio

(Joaquim – Nelson Cavaquinho)

8 A flor e o espinho

(Alcides Caminha – Guilherme de Brito – Nelson Cavaquinho)
• Se eu sorrir (Nelson Cavaquinho-Guilherme de Brito)
• Quando eu me chamar saudade (Nelson Cavaquinho-Guilherme de Brito)
• Pranto de poeta (Nelson Cavaquinho-Guilherme de Brito)

9 É tão triste cair

(Nelson Cavaquinho)

10 Pode sorrir

(Guilherme de Brito – Nelson Cavaquinho)

11 Rugas

(Garcêz – Ary Monteiro – Nelson Silva)

12 O bem e o mal

(Guilherme de Brito – Nelson Cavaquinho)

13 Visita triste

(Anatalicio – Guilherme de Brito – Nelson Cavaquinho)

nelson cavaquinhonelson cavaquinho

Nelson Antônio da Silva, aka Nelson Cavaquinho. October 28, 1911 – February 17, 1986

“My voice, you know, is really raspy. But…. what is the name of that guy over there in North America? Ah, Armstrong is also raspy. There are people who like my voice more than many other singers. I don’t know why, but I think its because I feel it. There are singers that have killed my music. I have feeling when I sing.”

-from an interview with Sergio Cabral on the album’s back cover

Nelson Cavaquinho’s amazing gift for memorable melody meant that there was never any shortage of famous artists wanting to record his sambas. Just a glance at the jacket of this one and you see a quick handful, tunes that are better-known if not immortalized in the sweet tones of Clara Nunes, Elis Regina, Elza Soares, Elizeth Cardoso… Surely Nelson was not talking about THEM when he referred to people “killing” his songs. Pelo amor de deus, he couldn’t have been!

Whoever he might have had in mind, his point is well-taken. There is something about his songs, and maybe just samba in general, that particularly suits it to being sung by grissled old men and women. And I say that with love in my heart, of course. Nelson, who carried Cartola’s coffin at his funeral, did not have the sweetened vintage pipes of his close friend. His is more of a croak, but nonetheless endearing for it.

This 1973 record is a classic. It has made the rounds on the ‘blogosphere’ but I like it too much not to share it here, with my own rip of ‘primera qualidade’. The dynamic Odeon duo of Milton Miranda and Maestro Gaya are in the production seats on this one too. Guilherme de Brito, who had taken up his place as Nélson’s main songwriting partner at this point, sings on the medley of songs on Track 8. It’s also worth noting that Nélson plays guitar on the record, and *not* cavaquinho, which he more or less quit playing fairly early on. Nicknames tend to stick, I guess.

A lot of the highlights of this album have been recorded by other artists as well – Juizo Final, Folhas Secas, Vou Partir are especially well-represented songs in the broader samba discography.

nelson cavaquinho
Nelson Cavaquinho and Cartola, 1963, Carnaval in Rio. Photo by Walter Firmo

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