Inezita Barroso – Alma Brasileira (1993)

Inezita Barroso
Alma Brasileira
1993 Copacabana

01 – Luar do Sertão
02 – Moda da Pinga
03 – Morena Morena
04 – Engenho Novo
05 – Soca Pilão
06 – Meu Limão, Meu Limoeiro
07 – Prenda Minha
08 – Saudade de Matao
09 – Asa Branca
10 – Maringa
11 – Peixe Vivo
12 – O Menino da Porteira
13 – Negrinho do Postoreio
14 – Tristezas do Jeca


I don’t have a tremendous amount to say about this album, which is a collection of material from Inezita Barroso’s first few decades as a performer.  But she passed away earlier this year at the dignified age of 90, and I have a few of her LPs on vinyl so I might someday digitize them for this place if there is interest.

Inezita Barroso was Brazil’s long-reigning queen of música caipira and traditional sertaneja, music from the rural interior associated with southern Brazil.  This genre of music has a similar symbolic valence as other “folk” musics in other parts of the world, so naturally when she passed away there was a lot of eulogizing about how she represented the “authentic” and “real” Brazil.  Born in São Paulo to a wealthy family, but spending much of her childhood on the many coffee plantations they owned, she was college educated, married young to a lawyer, formally trained in music – sociologically she was about as “caipira” as Pete Seeger was a freight-train hopping hobo.  Having played in talent-show type affairs in theaters since she was a young girl, her first paid performance came when she was asked to interpret some songs collected by Mario de Andrade during his famous ethno-musicological field trips of the 1930s.  That’s an old folk music “tradition” of its own:  (re)presenting the music of rural people in a cleaned-up package, sung in dialect, that is more amenable to urban, middle/upper-class aesthetics.

But none of these musical ad hominem observations really matter too much, because she was indeed the most visible proponent and advocate for this type of music, and hence an inspiration to many less famous singers and duos to keep going.  For thirty-five years, Inezita hosted a Sunday morning TV program devoted to música caipira called Viola, Minha Viola.  She appeared in films and on the theatrical stage, and also did original research and wrote books about folklore.  Her repertoire was not limited to only the the sertaneja music of the south but included folk songs from the center-west and further east around Rio and, naturally, the Northeast.  In this college we have a very stylized version of Gonzagão’s “Asa Branca” that you can add to your collection of the umpteen versions of that tune.  I like it.

Unfortunately this single-CD retrospective does not give even the bare minimum of information as to the provenance of the recordings – when they were recorded, where they appeared elsewhere.  For that kind of detail, you probably want to look for the collection by the Revivendo label or else the 6-CD boxset released by Copacabana Discos that spans 1955-1962.  Unfortunately this latter collection suffers from a case of severe sonic degradation due to  heavy-handed use of ‘no noise’ filtering, leaving everything sounding like an mp3 you might have found on eMule or Limewire fifteen years ago.  I haven’t heard the Revivendo collection, but while I’m a big advocate for the earlier releases of that label, in recent years they have also been sucking the life out of their audio with the blanket application of noise filtering.  (Seriously guys, just leave the noise – recordings from the 1930s and 40s are never going to sound like they were recorded yesterday so just stop trying already.)  I’m not sure when exactly things started to go all wobbly in their mastering practices, but their one Inezita collection (that I know of), titled ‘Ronda’, dates from 2005, so it could go either way in terms of quality.

So while the information included in this disc is nonexistent, the sound is actually quite nice.  Highlights here include the humorous “Moda da Pinga,” more commonly known as “Marvada Pinga,” the tune “Meu Limão, Meu Limoeiro” whose sing-songy childlike verses were also recorded by one swinging cat named Wilson Simonal, “Prenda Minha” (also recorded by Caetano), “Tristeza do Jeca” (originally by Tonico and Tinoco), hell everything here is pretty good.  I’m partial to “Engenho Novo”.

I had considered posting this CD to my dormant companion blog to this one, Flabbergasted Folk, because except for the fact that this is Brazilian, it might thematically fit better over there than it does here.  But then I remembered that the drum beat from Engenho Novo was sampled by Racionais MC’s and decided it was okay to post this collection at Flabbergasted Vibes after all…

Check out the interesting development of this sertaneja staple, “Tristeza do Jeca”, which closes out this CD.  Below I have posted the 1947 version of the song by the duo Tonico and Tinoco on the left, followed by another recording a decade later, in 1958, to the right.  Below this is Inezita Barroso’s version, and then again another by Tonico and Tinoco performing it in the 1970s for the TV program MPB Ensaio.  I prefer the earliest two from Tonico and Tinoco myself.  The 1947 has a special sauce ingredient of Hawaiian-style steel guitar combined with a sanfona or accordion.  Perhaps the guitar was  played by my favorite Brazilian steel guitarist (because he’s the only Brazilian steel guitarist I know) Poli or Poly (Ângelo Apolônio), who would eventually make some sertaneja records of his own.  The 1958 version is very different: it has a rhythmic baião-type lilt to it that could lend itself to some slow dancing.  Unfortunately the YouTube clip cuts out halfway through the track but you get the idea.

Then there is Inezita’s version, played in a looser solo arrangement. It is interesting that in the 70s clip, they are playing the song more like Inezita’s rendition, which is maybe more “traditional” sertaneja.  Is it possible that she influenced the way they played their own signature song?  It almost seems like the reverse of a case of one staple of North American folk music – when Pete Seeger said he liked The Byrds more ‘modern’ arrangement of Turn, Turn, Turn more than his own and deciding to just start playing it their way at some point.  Somewhere in my closet I have a CD recordings of all the MPB Ensaio programs, including episodes with both Inezita and Tonico and Tinoco.  Perhaps they tell some stories about this, so now I will have to check.

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Cascatinha & Inhana – Índia, Vol. 1 (1995) Recordings 1952-1960


1995 Revivendo RVCD 092
Recordings from 1952 – 1960

1 Índia
(M.O.Guerrero, J.A.Flores)
2 Noite de garoa
(Vicente Lima)
3 Mestiça
(Gonçalves Crespo)
4 Juramento sagrado
(Camargo, Arlindo Pinto)
5 Bombachudo
(Heitor de Barros)
6 Destino traçado
(Suely B. Languth, Euclides Rangel “Bolinha”)
7 Desilusão
(Paulo Freitas, José G. Paschoal “Zuzo”, Manoel Freitas)
8 Rolinha [La Paloma]
9 Flor da saudade
(Armando Neves)
10 Flor do outono
(Antônio Viana)
11 Na casa branca da serra
(Guimarães Passos)
12 Nossa noite
13 Asunción
14 Jangadeiro do norte
(João de Barro)
15 Dona do meu coração
(José de Oliveira Mendes, Ercílio Consoni)
16 O direito de viver
(Mário Pinto da Mota)
17 Aliança
(Antenor Bosco)
18 Casinha pequenina
19 Recordações de Ipacaraí [Recuerdos de Ypacaray]
(D.Ortiz, Z.Mirkin)


The reissue label / series Revivendo is sort of a Brazilian version of Yazoo or Arhoolie, minus a graphic design department (their artwork is all uniformly awful..), specializing in quality compilations of music from the era of 78s and recording artists who made their name singing live on the radio.

Such is the case with the husband and wife duo Cascatinha and Inhana, who sang a little bit of every popular style but are considered “música sertaneja”, roughly analogous to country music.  These days música sertaneja gets a bad rap: remarkably similar to the trajectory of its North American counterpart, it has become more centered around guys in big hats and tight pants, with overblown stage shows and pop-saturated schlock for their repertoire.  But in its golden days the style produced lots of great music.  A major influence on early música sertaneja was the Paraguayan genre of the “guarânia”, a style developed in the 1920s that is usually attributed to a single composer, José Asunción Flores.  The popularity of the genre spread though southern Brazil across the border from Mato Grosso do Sul in the 1940s.   The indigenous name for the style seems to have more to do with erudite fascination for romantic-nationalist poetry and literature that sought the roots of Paraguayan identity in the ‘noble savage’ and popular folklore, ideas also familiar to any Brazilian forced to read José de Alencar’s “Iracema”.  But musically the form took most of its cues from European music blended with Paraguayan rhythmic sensibilities of syncopation; in particular Señor Flores was toying around with slowing down the polka.  He is responsible for many of the most enduring compositions in the genre, several of which are included on this compilation.  It’s also worth mentioning that if you love the use of the accordion in acoustic music, as I do, you probably fall in love with this stuff instantly.

Cascatinha (Francisco dos Santos) originally played the drums and got a job touring with a circus, where he learned the guitar and eventually met his wife, Ana Eufronsina da Silva (Inhana).  He had begun perfoming as a duo with another man, nicknamed Chope, and they decided to relocate from the interior of São Paulo and try their luck in Rio de Janeiro, where they performed on famous radio programs like those hosted by Ary Barroso and Paulo Gracindo.  Chope and Cascatinha had a falling out, and looking for a quick replacement he handed the job to his wife Ana – a musical partnership that would endure for 40 years.  They continued performing at circuses, on the radio, and in the late 40s began working under contract to Rádio América and then Rádio Record, where they stayed for 12 years, and appearing in films.  In the 1950s they began recording 78s for the labels Todamérica and and Continental.  Their fifth release catapulted them into national fame – the two guaranias “Índia”, backed with “Meu Primeiro Amor”, both written by the genre’s godfather José Asunción Flores and adapted by Brazilian composer José Fortuna.  ‘Índia” is the song that drove me to find out more about this duo — A lot of people here will know it better from the version Gal Costa recorded for her 1973 album of the same name, with exquisite embellishments by Dominguinhos on the accordion.  Interestingly, it became a hit again in Brazil just within the last couple years, being covered by a fresh-faced lass in the sertaneja style — I don’t remember her name, but I saw her performing it on TV and although it was still a little too glossy and over-produced for my taste, I admit that she does it justice.  Or rather, she could have destroyed the song, but didn’t.  The B-side of this historic 78, “Meu Primeiro Amor,” by any logic should have been included on this compilation, but the marketing wizards at Revivendo slyly featured it as the centerpiece of the second volume of Cascatinha and Inhana works.  (And, alas, I do not have it..)  This song would also end up being covered by Nara Leão on an album of the same name during her semi-retirement, but without nearly the kind of impact as Gal’s recording of Índia.

The recordings on this collection are all lovely stuff.  Being veterans of contexts like the circus and live radio, these two were capable of singing any genre:  canção, valsa (or waltzes), samba, ranchos, and even a baião and a tango are represented on this collection.  I have taken the trouble to include ID-tags detailing the composers and the associated styles for each track.  Cascatinha and Inhana’s vocal harmonies are impeccable, and it has to be acknowledged that the romantic leaning of all the material is made all the sweeter by the knowledge that they were apparently happily married up until the time of Ana’s death in the 1980s.  Still, it is the guarânias that stand out here and mark the duo as trail blazers in the Brazilian articulation of this musical style.  The compilation closes with another fine example, “Recordações de Ypacaray,” once again a direct adaptation of a Paraguayan success by Demétrio Ortiz.

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