Candeia – Luz da Inspiração and Axé (1976-78)

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CANDEIA
Dose Dupla (2 on 1)
Luz da Inspiração (1976) and
Axé! Gente Amiga do Samba (1978)

LUZ DA INSPIRAÇÃO
1977 Atlantic/WEA

1 Riquezas do Brasil (Brasil poderoso)
(Waldir 59, Candeia)   
2 Maria Madalena da Portela
(Aniceto)   
3 Olha o samba sinhá (Samba de roda)
(Candeia)   
4 Vem menina moça
(Candeia)   
5 Nova escola
(Candeia)   
6 Já curei minha dor
(Padeirinho)   
7 Luz da inspiração
(Candeia)   
8 Me alucina
(Candeia, Wilson Moreira)   
9 Falso poder (Ser ou não ser)
(Candeia)   
10 Era quase madrugada
(Casquinha, Candeia)   
11 Cabocla Jurema
(Candeia)   
12 Pelo nosso amor
(Cartola)   

AXÉ! GENTE AMIGA DO SAMBA
Candeia   
1978 Atlantic/WEA

1 Pintura sem arte
(Candeia)   
2 Ouro desça do seu trono
(Paulo da Portela)   
Mil reis (Candeia-Noca)

3 Vivo isolado do mundo
(Alcides Malandro Histórico)   
Amor não é brinquedo (Candeia-Martinho da Vila)

4 Zé Tambozeiro [Tambor de Angola]
(Vandinho, Candeia)   
5 Dia de graça
(Candeia)   
6 Gamação
(Candeia)   
Peixeiro granfino (Bretas-Candeia)
Ouço uma voz (Nelson Amorim)
Vem amenizar (Candeia-Waldir 59)

OMITTED FROM CD VERSION – 7 O invocado
(Casquinha)   
Beberrão (Aniceto do Império-Mulequinho)

______________________________________________________________

Dia de Graça
Hoje é manhã de carnaval (ao esplendor)
As escolas vão desfilar (garbosamente)
Aquela gente de cor com a imponência de um rei, vai pisar na passarela (salve a Portela)
Vamos esquecer os desenganos (que passamos)
Viver alegria que sonhamos (durante o ano)
Damos o nosso coração, alegria e amor a todos sem distinção de cor
Mas depois da ilusão, coitado
Negro volta ao humilde barracão
Negro acorda é hora de acordar
Não negue a raça
Torne toda manhã dia de graça
Negro não se humilhe nem humilhe a ninguém
Todas as raças já foram escravas também
E deixa de ser rei só na folia e faça da sua Maria uma rainha todos os dias
E cante o samba na universidade
E verás que seu filho será príncipe de verdade
Aí então jamais tu voltarás ao barracão

It’s the 13th of May, a holiday in Brazil commemorating the abolition of slavery in 1888, when Princess Isabel found it in her benevolent, saintly heart to “free the slaves.”  Commemorations only work well when you exclude the inconvenient, which in this case would involve decades of debt peonage, landlessness, discrimination, and systemic racism shielded by a self-serving myth of so-called ‘racial democracy’ (“Brazil does not have a race problem, it has a class problem…”).  It is inconvenient for commemorations to pay attention to the harassment of people of color simply for being in the “wrong place” (like a shopping mall), to the militarization of the slums to make sure that people “know their place,” or if that still doesn’t work, vigilante citizens chasing and beating a teenage petty thief, stripping him naked and then chaining him to a lamppost with a bike lock.  Inconvenient that all of these last items have happened in the 21st century, in spite of provisions in Brazil’s 1988 constitution that make racism and racial discrimination a crime punishable by prison time, but which is of course never enforced.  It’s also probably best not to think about the voluminous documentation of forced slave labor and human rights abuses in the remote interior of the country (mind you, as an occasionally pedantic American historian insisted to me once, this is “not the same as the chattel slavery” of the transatlantic slave trade.. She’s right, but she was also kind of missing the point). 

So with all that in mind, a blog post of music by Candeia might be better suited for the holiday commemorating the death of Zumbi of Palmares rather than this patriotic flag-waving, parade-holding one.   After all Candeia did found his own samba organization called Grêmio Recreativo de Arte Negra e Samba Quilombo.  The song “Dia de Graça” is a gorgeous little composition, whose lyrics (cited above) trace a hopeful, somewhat utopian vision that messes with the classic “inversion” theme of carnival that is a beloved subject of erudite analysis from Bakhtin to Roberto DaMatta to that annoying book by Alma Guillermoprieto.  That well-trodden debate tended to be framed as:  Is the upside-down, burlesque and irreverent world of carnival – where the poor and dispossessed could dress and act like aristocrats or royalty –  a kind of social critique made by those whose voices were historically silenced, or was it a kind of ‘steam valve’ to release the bottled-up tensions of a hierarchical society to prevent them from erupting into genuine chaos and disorder.   Candeia’s poem, however, is from the point of view of the people who participate in the courtly procession of the samba school, which has roots stretching back to the black brotherhoods of Our Lady of the Rosary and the coronation ceremonies of the Congo Kings of the colonial period.  My ‘free’ translation with no attempt to maintain meter or rhyme, hence laid out as a paragraph here:


It’s carnival morning in all its splendor, the samba schools are going to parade in their elegance; these people of color with the majesty of kings are going to stride along the concourse (hail Portela!). Forget our troubles and suffering that we’ve lived through, live the happiness that we dream of all year long, give our hearts, happiness, and love to everyone with no regard for their color.  But when the illusion is over, poor thing, the black man returns to his humble shack.  Black man wake up, it’s time to wake up.  Don’t deny your race.  Make every morning your day of grace and freedom.  Black man don’t be humiliated and don’t humiliate anyone else, all of the races were also once slaves.  Stop being a king only in the pageant and make your Maria a queen for all days.  Sing samba in the universities, and see that your son can be a true prince in real life, and then you will never again have to return to that humble shack.

Samba has no shortage of bittersweet  songs about carnival, but I can’t think of too many that also sneak in jarringly direct negations of the supposed inferiority of black people with a line like “todas as raças já foram escravas também.”  It’s a we-shall-overcome expression of racial uplift clothed in the silk and velvet of Louis the XV.

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“Dia de Graça” is from Candeia’s greatest album, “Axé – gente amiga de samba”  recorded shortly before he died.  He was a samba purist in the era of the commercialized spectacle that would culminate in the building of the Sambadrome, disillusioned with the direction of the samba schools were taking.  His father was a flautist who played choro and was part of Portela’s first comisão da frente. In his own words, Candeia was something of an intermediary between the generations, bridging the two Paulos – the original Paulo de Portela, and the great Paulinho da Viola.  You can see both Candeia and Paulinho (although not at the same time) in this amazing short film by Leon Hirszman called Partido Alto

The first half of this film centers around Candeia holding court from his throne of a wheelchair, giving a didactic demonstration of the partido alto style, its base in improvisation and similarity to Northeastern repente or embolada, different ways to sing it and dance it.  Check out the posters from Senegal on the walls behind them, which are very possibly from the first Festival of Black Arts held in Dakar in 1966 which had a big Brazilian contingent.  The second half, “In the house of Manacéia” captures as well as any film can the informal cauldron of creativity at a Sunday lunch of feijoada and samba with the old guard, seemingly extending quite long into the evening.  Paulinho, in the only narration in the film placed at the very end, talks about how from a very young age he saw partido alto as a type of communion, a participatory rite in which everyone could enter in their own way of improvising.  He remarks how “today” (i.e. the latter half of the 70s), samba had so many external obligations, emphasizing the “spectacle” at the expense of the sambistaReturning to the partido alto was a way to stay grounded in samba’s authentic roots.  The concept of “authenticity” is one that has preoccupied me on this blog and in other writing that I don’t put here.  Typically, along with my fellow travelers, I am preoccupied with the way elites have created and sustained the notion of an “authentic” form of culture, excluding much in the process, at the service of one or another ideology (both conservative and revolutionary).   What I’ve been interested in lately is the different ways that the idea of “authenticity” is used by participants themselves of a given form of cultural expression as a way to safeguard against the cooptation of outsiders.  Of course this gets hopelessly complicated when we have to consider state interventions that designate “patrimony,” and partido alto received that official recognition by IPHAN in 2007.  Journalist Lena Frias points out on the back cover of “Axé” that Candeia launched his Samba Quilombo foundation without any reference to the “whitening” of the art form that was a polemic at the time, and cites lyrics to show that he wasn’t interested in excluding anyone from the world of samba based on skin color.  A valid observation, but it doesn’t contradict in any way that Candeia felt pretty strongly about defending the black, Afro-Brazilian roots of the art form.

 When I first did some blog posts of Candeia records I was mildly chastised by a French blogger friend for not having written more at length about the greatness and importance of this important artist.  Naturally this discouraged me from posting anything else about Candeia for the better part of two years – What is it with these French dudes and their impressive 5000-word posts about samba, ain’t nobody got time for that!

Anyway, it is a non-trivial travesty that the Brazilian recording industry (and/or its multinational overlords) let this album stay out of print for decades.  Too add insult to injury, when Warner finally did reissue this album, as part of a double disc set including both of his Atlantic records, they left off the final track for no reason that I can discern.  Possibly an issue over publishing rights, but it could also just as likely be pure negligence or sloppiness on their part.  This was sort of a budget release (R$30 when it came out, now going for  R$20), but doesn’t even bother with even a blurb of text from Tarik de Souza, let alone actual liner notes.  I hate to praise EMI for anything but their budget series of 2-em-1 CDs from the early 00’s did much better in this regard.  It also fails to note the participation of other great sambistas like Dona Ivone Lara, Manaceá, Clementina de Jesus, and Aniceto de Império who all sing on different tracks.  Seriously, none of these people get mentioned anywhere on the CD.   I will say one good thing about this reissue – the remastering is quite nice and a huge improvement over the garbage reissues that the label Discobertas put out.

Which reminds me that I’ve yet to offer a single word about the other album in this set, Luz da Inspiração from 1976.  It is a fine album in its own right,  overshadowed by Axé but a very different record in a lot of ways.  Opening with the samba enredo of “Riquezas do Brasil”, it also has some first-rate offerings in the partido alto style – “Maria Madalena de Portela,” “Olha o samba, sinhá,” and “Vem menina moça.”  There are slower tunes too, almost samba-canção, like “Me alucina” and the title song whose arrangements have flavors of the Golden Age of samba (and, incidentally, a lyric about slaves transformed into kings).  The tune “Nova Escola” seems like it had his new foundation Quilombo in mind.  A few tunes have a more ‘samba de asfalto’ style like the work of Paulinho da Viola or João Nogueira, and then there’s the spare spiritism of “Caboclo Jurema.”

“Luz de Inspiração” is a more stylistically diverse album than “Axé” but also less cohesive as an artistic statement.  “Axé” really shows Candeia firing on all cylinders, with writing partners spanning his entire lifetime as a sambista, from Paulo de Portela to Martinho da Vila.  In fact the album deserves a post all to itself, but I will either leave that to the French, or perhaps I will make another one using a vinyl needledrop since it has ALL THE SONGS ON IT for fuch’s sake…

This blog post doesn’t really come around full circle to 13 de Maio or anything like that.  It’s a day for parades and for getting drunk.  Freedom is never “granted” by princesses or politicians.  Everyone knows that.

Paulinho da Viola – Meu Tempo É Hoje (2003)

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 PAULINHO DA VIOLA
Meu Tempo É Hoje
2003 Biscoito Fino

    1     Meu Mundo É Hoje (Wilson Batista)        1:24
2     Pot-Pourri: Injúria/Recado/O Sol Nascerá/Jurar Com Lagrimas
(Cartola / Milton Casquinha / Elton Medeiros / Paulinho da Viola )
feat. Elton Medeiros  4:07
3     14 Anos (Paulinho da Viola)    1:32
4     Rosinha, Essa Menina (Paulinho da Viola) feat. César Faria     1:42
5     Ruas Que Sonhei (Paulinho da Viola)      1:59
6     Sinal Fechado (Paulinho da Viola)    2:43
7     Chora, Cavaquinho (Waldemar de Abreu) feat. César Faria     2:02
8     Carinhoso (João de Barro / Pixinguinha) feat. Marisa Monte
9     Pra Fugir da Saudade (Elton Medeiros / Paulinho da Viola) feat.  Iris, Julieta, and Eliane Faria  2:24
10     Filosofia (Noel Rosa)    2:39
11     Pot-Purri: De Paulo da Portela a Paulinho da Viola/Foi Um Rio Que …
(Monarco / Francisco Santana / Paulinho da Viola) feat. Velha Guarda da Portela     4:21
12     Conflito (Marcos Diniz, Barbeirinho de Jacarezinho) feat. Zeca Pagodinho3:29
13 Retiro (Paulinho da Viola)     1:09
14     Coisas Do Mundo, Minha Nêga (Paulinho da Viola)   3:17
15     Um Sarau Para Raphael (Paulinho da Viola) feat. Nó em Pingo d’Água     4:38
16     Argumento (Paulinho da Viola)    0:37

I haven’t done a blog post in over a week so in a way this is a “filler” post.  Of course nothing Paulinho has done deserves to be called ‘filler’ even if it isn’t a major entry in his huge body of work.  This is a soundtrack record; I highly recommend the film, which is not so much a biopic as a musical portrait of one of Brazil’s national treasures.  On this record, as in the film, Paulinho performs alongside old friends and new as well as a few solo pieces.  A  purist to the core, he works through some classic samba and a little bit of choro with guests like Zeca Pagodinho, Cristina Buarque, and Elton Medeiros (with whom he started his career).  The only thing keeping this record from being perfect is the presence of Marisa Monte – a robot built by scientists working for the music industry – who sings an utterly forgettable version of “Carinhoso.”  I am also of the opinion that a moratorium should be declared on that song as well as Garota da Ipanema, with all due respect to Pixinguinha, Jobim and Moraes.  But this is also why God invented the “skip” button.  Feel free to use it.

There is a relaxed, unrehearsed quality to a lot of the songs here that is very charming.  A couple songs feature family members:  “Rosinha, Essa Menina” and “Chora Cavaquinho” feature his father, César Faria, one of the founders of the Época de Ouro band along with Jacob do Bandolim, and who would pass away a mere four years after this recording, while “Pra Fugir da Saudade” features his daughters.  A high point of the record is Zeca Pagodinho’s appearance, which injects a needed bit of energy into this otherwise nostalgic retrospective.  Not that nostalgia or saudades are bad: the medley with Elton Medeiros (who rocks out on the matchbook) is a bit sloppy but putting “O Sol Nascerá” (co-written with Cartola) next to “Jurar Com Lágrimas” works really well, and the medley with the Velha Guarda da Portela is also nice.  A few of these tracks sound like they came straight from the folio microphones used on the film and so have an almost field-recording quality (you can hear birds chirping outside the windows during “Retiro”).  The questionable acoustics of the “room sound” oddly draw your attention to the intimacy of Paulinho’s renditions on those songs, but I’m still glad for the richer studio textures of Noel Rosa’s “Filosofia” and his own “Sinal Fechado.”

If it wasn’t for his head full of gray hair, you wouldn’t know Paulinho  had aged a day since his first recordings in the mid 1960s.  Granted, this record is now 10 years old (the minimum for being featured on this blog…) but he still sounds this good today.  For fans who already love and respect the walking reservoir of samba who is Paulinho da Viola, this is a nice record to add to your collection, as is the film.  For newcomers, this little splash should inspire a deeper dive.

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Os Partideiros – Sambas do Partido Alto (1970)

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OS PARTIDEIROS
Sambas do Partido Alto
1970 Beverley  BLP 80382
Originally released on Copacabana Records
Mono recording

“Partido alto e o samba de roda, improvisado e levado em tempo médio.
Com o reqeubrar das cabrochas vai até o sol raiar.
É acompanhado de pandeiro, agogô, reco-reco, prato de louça etc
Neste LP atuam os maiores partidieros das escolas de samba tais como:

Da Mangueira:  Xangô e Preto Rico
Do Salgueiro – Geraldo Babão e Roberto Ribeiro
Do Império Serrano – Silas de Oliveira, Edgard e Jorginho
Da Portela – Cabana e Casquinha”

PORTELA

1. A Paz do Coreção  (vocal – Cabana)
2. Barracão Número Seis  (vocal – Cabana)
3. Iaiá Sambou  (vocal – Casquinha)

IMPÉRIO SERRANO

4. Na Água do Rio  (vocal – Silas)
5. Que Samba É Esse  (vocal – Jorginho)
6. Canela Fina  (vocal – Edgard)

SALGUEIRO

7. Lola Crioula  (vocal – Geraldo Babão)
8. Te Dou Pancada  (vocal – Os Partideiros)
9. Velhos Tempos  (vocal – Roberto Ribeiro)

MANGUEIRA

10. Eu Vi Quem Foi  (vocal – Preto Rico)
11. Recordação De Um Batuqueiro  (vocal – Xangô da Mangueira)
12. Partido da Remandiola  (vocal – Xangô da Mangueira)

Coordinated by Moacyr Silva
Production assistant: Waldomiro João de Oliveira
Recording technician:  Norival Reis
Recorded at Continental Rio studio

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


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“Todo batuqueiro gosta de um bom
partido alto
Seja ele lá no morro ou na
cidade, no asfalto.”
Cascinha, Iaiá sambou

“Quem não é de samba / é melhor se despedir…”
Roberto Ribeiro, Velhos tempos

A solid and ceaselessly propulsive album of partido-alto from singers and composers of four of Rio’s prestigious samba schools:  Portela, Império
Serrano, Salgueiro, and Mangueira.  Of particular note is that the album features several singers here who would have successful recording careers during the 70s but had yet to record LPs under their own name – Xangô da Mangueira, Jorginho do Império, and especially Roberto Ribeiro would all grow in stature as the decade went on.  Also some excellent contributions from Cascinha, Geraldo Babão, and Silas de Oliveira.  A fun trivia fact about Silas – he had been in the Brazilian army and was on the passenger ship Itagiba traveling from Rio en route to Olinda (where he was stationed) when it was torpedoed by a German submarine, an incident which directly led to Brazil’s entry into WWII.  Lot’s of people died; obviously Silas de Oliveira survived, and I for one am glad.

With each of the samba schools only offering up three choice compositions, you can imagine that they don’t disappoint.  The mighty Portela starts things off with “A Paz de Coração,” sung by Cabana in what could serve as a didactic lesson on how to conduct a perfect partido alto.  Casquinha’s “Iaiá Sambou” is a classic, with it’s story of broken high-heel shoes and dancing, as well as a shout-out to Clementina de Jesus, who “in spite of her age, still seems like a young woman.”  The lyrics also give a snapshot narrative of partido alto coming down from the hills, o morro (today simply referred to as favelas, after Rio’s historic Morro da Favela), to the center of the city, reflecting samba’s historical trajectory from “marginal” to ubiquity and acceptance by the elite.  It has two beautiful verses in sequence, the first one quoted above saying that every musician (drummer, specifically) loves a good partido alto and it doesn’t matter where it is (seja no morro ou asfalto);  He follows this by singing that partido alto in the morro is a thing totally natural, but to have one in the city is almost radical.  To my ears this communicates something that, while perhaps seeming superficially a contradiction, is an intentionally two-headed, ambiguous message. That for the musicians, it didn’t matter where they played, as long as the music was good; but for the city’s elite who lived downtown, samba was still a novelty with overtones of excitement and even danger, and not something natural.  The idea confirms something Donga once famously said, but also adds a different shading to it.  Donga had said (and I’m paraphrasing, because I am essentially lazy) that the notion that samba was something solely created or originating in the hills was a myth: wherever there was a party with a group of people playing samba music, they were there, no matter if it was on the morro or in the business district.  Not to belabor the point, but these expressions were kind of challenging the way samba was sometimes portrayed as inhabiting a world apart, ‘a black thing’ of the slums, that was slowly allowed to proliferate through the city perhaps by the benevolence of a newly-enlightened elite.

For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I am particularly fond of the tunes from Império Serrano.  They start out with Águas Do Rio which features Silas on vocal, who is better known as a composer of famous samba-enredos, in particular in partnership with Mano Décio da Viola – who was, incidentally, the father of Jorginho who takes over the vocals on the next tune.  “Que Samba É Esse” is wonderful and in fact beats the version recorded by Xangô da Mangueira on his album “O Rei de Partido Alto” a few years later.  Note the name-checking that goes on, including João da Baiana and Martinho da Vila.  I love the way he drags out certain words in phrases, inserts pauses and emphasizes the accented syllable of certain words to give the effect of falling slightly behind the beat. Listening to him sing is like watching a Slinky undulate down a flight of stairs:

 Tendo viola afinada
Um surdo na mar…cação
Aí a mulata levanta poeira do chão
Fica bom, fica bom!

Serrano Império continues to kick up dust and agitate the dance floor, levantando poeira into their final tune “Canela Fina,” cooking up a slower-paced partido alto written and sung by Edgard Cardoso Barbosa, about whom I know nothing.

The sweet-voiced Geraldo Babão starts out Salgueiro’s selections with “Lola Crioula.”  Like Silas de Oliveira, Babão also composed some famous samba-enredos like “Chico Rei” and “A História do Carnaval Carioca” in the 1960s.  Like many partido altos the lyrics are a variation on a single verse, this time once again echoing the theme of “from the morro to the city,” this time for carnival:  Lola crioula na passarela (Vem ver, vem ver) ; Sacudindo com tudo que é dela (Vem ver, vem ver!) / Todo ano ela desfila / Representando a favela / A moçada compra ingresso / Pra ver o gingado dela “tem dendê, tem dendê  as cadeiras na nega tem dendê”.

The song “Te Dou Pancada” is a catchy bit of reprehensible misogyny that is better left uncommented upon, if truth be told.  I find it kind of ironic that it is the one track here that does not credit any individual for the vocal (leaving it only as “Os Partideiros”) almost as if nobody wanted their name on it.   Salgueiro redeem themselves, however, with the lovely Velhos Tempos, written by Aurinho da Ilha and interpreted by Roberto Ribeiro who manages to swagger with saudade while remembering the old days of Praça Onze, a location that was kind of ground zero for carioca samba.

Mangueira’s songs are all excellent but that kind of goes without saying.  The first is from Preto Rico, one-time Diretor de Harmonia and composer of the sambas like “Velha baiana” and “Mangueira em tempos de folclore.”  This is followed by two songs from Xangô da Mangueira who followed Preto Rico as Diretor in Mangueira.  I sang Xangô’s praises on another post but I will reiterate what a badass he was here.  “Recordação de um Batuqueiro” is one of his famous sambas, played here a little faster than it would be on his first LP.  “Partido de Remandiola” doesn’t appear on any of Xangô’s albums that I have and this might be it’s only appearance on record.  Both tracks are excellent although Xangô’s vocal is a bit muffled, either a technical issue with the recording or maybe he just wasn’t as comfortable in a studio yet as he would be in a few years.

Speaking of studios and lapsing into technobabble for a moment, my copy of this is a Beverly reissue of the Copacabana release.  Almost certainly it was a 1970s reissue, and I believe Beverly was owned by Copacabana and was sort of their budget-line reissue imprint.  You might notice some tape wow-and-flutter on the first few tracks, which is a bit disheartening – to think that only a few years down the road, the master tapes were already borked.  Or, perhaps, the tapes were damaged before even the first pressing, I don’t know ‘cus I haven’t heard an original.  Also, although this is a mono recording, this Beverly is not a true mono pressing: when I attempted a ‘fold down’ for this digitalization, it resulted in some ugly phase cancellation and the lost of just about all the upper-frequency transients.  So, better to leave it in ‘false stereo’.

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24bitpassword/senha: vibes

Various – Encontro Com A Velha Guarda (1976)

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ENCONTRO COM A VELHA GUARDA
Diversos Intérpretes / Various Artists
Phonogram/Philips

Produced by Mazola
(LP/1976 – CD/1996)

01 – Saudade do passado (Mano Décio da Viola – Rubens da Silva) canta: Mano Décio da Viola
02 – Salário Mínimo (Hemani de Alvarenga) canta: Hernani Alvarenga
03 – Feliz é quem sabe esperar (Jota Palmeira – Noel Rosa de Oliveira) canta: Noel Rosa de Oliveira
04 – Ingratidão (Ismael Silva) canta: Ismael Silva
05 – Clara de ovo (Duduca do Salgueiro – Noel Rosa de Oliveira) canta: Duduca do Salgueiro
06 – É por aqui (Walter Rosa) canta: Walter Rosa
07 – Juizo final (Élcio Soares – Nelson Cavaquinho) canta: Nelson Cavaquinho
08 – Concurso para enfarte (Alvaiade) canta: Alvaiade
09 – Eu Vou Sorrir (Carivaldo de Morra – Iracy Silva) canta: Iracy Serra
10 – Reliquias da Bahia (Pelado da Mangueira) canta: Pelado da Mangueira

Here is a record that I’ve had in the cue to post for at least the last nine months.  The problem has been that this record is so good, every time I start to try and find something to say about it I feel unworthy.   This is one of the proverbial “desert island discs” and if I had to be stranded anywhere with only one samba album, this would be on the short list.  It probably even beats out that other amazing disc by a different Velha Guarda, Portela Passado de Glória.  So in the absence of excuses for delaying this post, I can only say “Feliz é quem tem paciência / Feliz é que sabe espera” (Noel Rosa de Oliviera)

This record features samba composers from the escolas de samba of Mangueira, Portela, Salgueiro, and Império Serrano.  All of these guys could be considered ‘godfathers’ of samba but of special note is Ismael Silva, frequent partner of Noel Rosa and co-founder of the very first samba school, Deixa Falar (Let Them Talk), and one contribution from certifiable genius Nelson Cavaquinho.

Occasionally I have written about one record or another and claimed that its only flaw was its brevity.  Given that the running time of the majority of classic Brazilian Long Players clock in right around the half-hour mark (this one is 29 minutes and 20 seconds!), this pithy observation was becoming a cliché.  I can’t fault anyone for brevity in an age where recording artists see fit to take at least a two-year break between recordings and then feel compelled to churn out tediously overlong records as if to atone for their absence.  This is a near-perfect album and I prefer it short and sweet than littered with filler.

From the first cavaquinho chords of “Saudade do passado” (Mano Décio da Viola, from samba school Império Serrano), the record takes on the auburn tones of a faded photograph that dominate so thoroughly they even bleed through the album cover itself.  It seems like no matter how far back you go in samba, somebody was always looking back further, commemorating and remembering, creating these perfect still-lifes of terça-feira de carnaval, the last day of carnival as the dust settles into Ash Wednesday.  These songs are a way of marking time as immutable as the lifelines of a tree trunk.  The poetry of the everyday fills nine of the ten selections, whether talking to us about the absurdity of trying to get by on Brazil’s minimum wage, or spinning tales of broken hearts, mágoas, being treated bad but putting up with it anyway because you adore somebody, and of course revenge real or imagined.  Many tunes exhibit what I might call a pragmatic melancholy, sad but never maudlin, and frequently with a dose of black humor like Alvaiade’s contribution here:

Saber sofrer                              //    To know how to suffer
Para mim é uma arte                //    For me is an art form
Mas aguentar você                  //     But putting up with you
É concurso pra enfarte            //     Is like a heart attack competition

… it’s better with the rhymes in it, in the original.

Ismael Silva’s song is great, with his voice that invokes the old days of samba when people sang without any microphones and plenty of vibrato.  Nelson Cavaquinho (card-carrying genius) brings one of his masterworks to the botequim table:  “Juizo Final” here is slightly less gratifying than the version on his own 1973 album, if only because here it is taken at a quicker tempo that robs it a bit of its stateliness.  Perhaps the big ‘deep cut’ for me on this record is Walter Rosa’s song “É Por Aquí.”  Rosa was a Portela stalwart and had a voice that was superficially reminiscent of Nelson, confusing me a bit the first time I heard this album.  He also had some heavy writing partners like Monarco and Manacéia, and has had his compositions recorded by the likes of Roberto Silva, Martinha da Vila, Elizete Cardoso, Zuzuca, and Beth Carvalho (who also recorded a great version of “Salário Minimo”).  A thorough analysis of this album ought to make a similar list for each of these great sambistas, because although each of them left a discographical legacy to greater or lesser degrees, where they really made their mark was as composers: leading their beloved samba schools to Carnaval victory with their songs, or providing the famous voices of MPB and samba with gems for their repertoires.  Many of these songs can still be heard at many a roda de samba.  Because music like this never dies.  The record ends in a slightly odd twist for one that is by and large an intimate affair:  a samba exaltação for Bahia and the city of Salvador, praising its illustrious churches, its acarajé, its candomblé, its Rui Barbosa; the first capital of Brazil, a symbol of national progress, and so on and blah blah blah.    A pleasant enough song (and sung by a Carioca, Pelado da Mangueira, not a Bahian), but kind of uninteresting. Although I’m unsure of the age of this song its zealous civic pride would fit naturally in the era par excellence for samba exaltação – the authoritarian, paternalistic, and uber-nationalist decades under Getulio Vargas.  It just seems an odd choice, given the short 29-minute running time of the record and the abundance of compositions available with all these guys in the same studio.  But I don’t want to be too hard on old Pelado – he wins HANDS DOWN the prize for best apelido (nickname, nome de guerra) and wardrobe of anyone on this record.  I really want his hat and shirt.  I think there is a better photo of him on the vinyl, now I will have to look and bring it here.

The album was produced by Mazola and has liner notes from Sérgio Cabral.
Immaculately recorded and mixed (on which count it scores points
on the tinny, thin sounding Portela album from 1970), this is one of
those rare titles where I own it both on vinyl and CD and I can say they
actually got it right  this time in the digital realm, retaining the
warmth and fullness of the original.  The music’s undying nature notwithstanding, the fact that this recording is
completely out of print is yet another example of malfeasance by an
industry that still views cultural patrimony as just another commodity to be extracted, packaged, and forgotten about.   I
guess the industry has been too busy putting together box sets for Cazuza or
whomever, to remember the sambistas they so gleefully exploited when classic samba was filling their coffers.

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Candeia – Samba de Roda (1975) reissue

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SAMBA DE RODA
Candeia
1975 Tapecar SS-007
2011 Reissue Discobertas (DB-081)

1 Brinde ao cansaço
(Candeia)
2 Conselhos de vadio
(Alvarenga)
3 Alegria perdida
(Candeia, Wilson Moreira)
4 Camafeu
(Martinho da Vila)
5 Sinhá dona da casa
(Candeia, Netinho)
6 Acalentava
(Candeia)
7 Seleção de Partido Alto:
Samba na tendinha (Candeia)
Já clareou (Dewett Cardoso)
Não tem veneno (Candeia-Wilson Moreira)
Eskindôlelê (Candeia)
Olha hora Maria (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)

8 Motivos folclóricos da Bahia:
a) Capoeira: Ai, Haydê (Folclore)
Paranauê (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)
b) Maculelê: Sou eu, sou eu (Folclore)
Não mate homem (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)
c) Candomblé: Deus que lhe dê (Folclore)
Salve! Salve! (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)
d) Samba de roda: Porque não veio (Folclore-Adpt. Candeia)

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I hesitated on sharing this here for a long time. Why, you ask? Isn`t this a wonderful classic album from the genius Candeia? Yes, yes it is — but giving this reissue any wider publicity is like polluting the waters. Finally I decided that, as a public service, I should post about it – with this caveat: I strongly urge all readers DO NOT BUY THIS reissue under any circumstances, I don’t care how cheaply you find it in your local shop.

Another essential samba album that has been essentially ruined by a reissue that makes it barely listenable. I am not exaggerating. Our blogger friend Dr. Funkathus has opined that I am something of an obsessive over about audio and sound quality. That may be so, but this reissue disproves the commonly spoken fallback excuse of “It’s the music that matters in the end.” Because, honestly, I will give ten dollars to anyone who can make it through this first track without a) cringing or b) checking your stereo system connections or c) wondering if you are listening to a low bitrate mp3. OK so I won’t give you ten dollars because I am flat broke at the moment. THIS album, which I picked up simultaneously with the other two Candeia reissues on the Discobertas label, is what prompted me to bring them all back to Livraria Cultura and ask for a refund on the basis that they were defective and should not have been released this way. The store clerk thought it was a slightly unorthodox request, but that store is famously awesome and took them back anyway. I hope they sent returned them to the label with an angry note but, alas, they probably didn’t. If Discobertas had any integrity they would do a product recall on these, because they are seriously, seriously substandard. These releases have stripped them of any legitimacy as a label and put them in category of shadowy semi-legit / outright bootleg labels like the defunct Radioactive label. Candeia must be rolling over in his grave, and his family must be really hard up for cash to have licensed the rights over these people.

This album deserves a better write-up than this. But it also deserves a better reissue.

It is Candeia in full bloom and at the peak of his powers as a songwriter and performer — a peak that would last until the end of his short life and his final posthumous album, Axê. Dominated by his original compositions but also carefully chosen covers like the humorous “Conselhos de vadio” (Alvarenga) and “Camafeu” from Martinho da Vila which has all the melodic trademarks of that composer.

The album is saturated with the sound of samba’s roots in Afro-brazilian religious traditions (such as but not exclusively Candomblé), incorporating instruments like the berimbau and capoeira rhythmic structure. But the show-stopping centerpiece of this album is without any doubt the 11-minute selection of Partido Alto tunes which gives a taste of how this stuff was performed in a relaxed live setting, something more fully explored on an album called Partido Em 5 that I will be also be sharing here soon…

1975 was a momentous year for Candeia. Disenchanted with the direction of the established samba schools, he founded “Grêmio Recreativo de Arte Negra e Escola de Samba Quilombo” with Wilson Moreira and Nei Lopes in Rio’s suburbs, to reassert samba’s roots in Afro-Brazilian traditions. One of his songs, “O Mar Seranou” was recorded by Clara Nunes and was the leading hit single of her best-selling album, ‘Claridade.’ And, with all that going on, he also recorded THIS ALBUM.

It is much better to have this album in your collection than not to. But even a half-assed vinyl rip on the net would probably be less abrasive for your ears. And apparently this was issued on CD once before in the 1990s although I have never come across a copy.

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Candeia – Seguinte…: Raiz (1971)

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Seguinte… RAIZ
Candeia (1971)
Released on Equipe (EQC-800.004)
Reissued poorly on Discobertas 2011 (DB-80)

01 – Vem é Lua
02 – Filosofia do Samba
03 – Silêncio, Tamborim
04 – Saudade
05 – A Hora e a Vez do Samba
06 – Saudação a Toco Preto
07 – Vai Pró Lado de Lá
08 – Regresso
09 – De Qualquer Maneira
10 – Imaginação
11 – Minhas Madrugadas
12 – Quarto Escuro
———–

Produced by Oswaldo Cadaxo
Recorded by “Walter.” Mastered by Ary Perdigão, Production assistant – Adelzon Alvez
Album cover and layout – Luiz Passango
José Roberto – arrangements on 6,10, and 12

Reissued under executive producion of Marcelo Fróes with “juridical help” from Adriana Vendramini, botched graphical layout by Baby Cartier, and “remastering” from Ricardo Carvalheira. They should all be out of a job.

——————–

An exception album by Candeia in more ways than one. More animated and confident than his first album (note: even though he’d been part of Portela for years and written many of their greatest samba enredos, 1970 was the first time he ventured into making an album). Stylistically he’s moved away from the touches of “samba de asfalto” (urban samba) on that first album that may have been an influence of friend and fellow Portela stalwart Paulinho da Viola, and into the territory of rootsy ‘roda da samba’, samba pagode, partido alto, and even samba soul. It’s this latter that is the other ‘exception’ to this album. To my knowledge its the only time Candeia really experimented with this form and it seems no coincidence that the three tracks touched by this style were all arranged by José Roberto. “Saudação a Toco Preto” is a funk-driven tune that sounds like a ponto cantado of umbanda punctuated with punchy brass, while “Imaginação” is a straight-up soul ballad. The closer of the album, “Quarto Escuro” is a more traditional samba but with the production trappings of organ and string arrangements, both of which blend quite nicely when the surdo drum comes in to kick it into gear. Unsurprisingly this is probably the most successful of the three tunes here that had an outside arranger. The other two are not *bad* songs by any means, but Candeia sounds a bit awkward singing them. If I had been in the studio I would have told him those songs “não tem sua cara” — they’re just not you, Candeia.

I shouldn’t focus on the exceptions because the rest of the album is some of the most Classic Candeia out there. The album opens with “Vem, é Lua” which is just plain.. exciting. Followed by “Filosofia de Samba”, one of his enduring compositions. The third track is the only one not written by him but instead introduces a ‘new’ Portela writer, Anézio (with Wilson Bombeiro). The tune “Saudades” is a modernized choro and tribute to Paulo de Portelo, the old “professor” of the samba school. “Vai Pró Lado de Lá” is partido-alto at its finest. How the hell could this album have ever been out of print? ‘Regresso’, also fantastic. How many superlatives can I hurl at these songs before I choke on my own tongue?

Candeia would take a break of four years before releasing another album, for reasons unknown to me. Maybe he was just lazy, gimps in wheelchairs often are lazy. (Just checking to see if anyone actually reads these descriptions.. )

Of the three disastrous Candeia reissues released simultaneously by the sketchy label Discobertas, this one probably sounds the best. But still very inconsistent. Some songs sound fine, others mediocre, still others downright awful, like low-res mp3s (even though the bitdepth of the FLACs all average around 800-odd kbs). As usual no details are given about the technical aspects of the reissue, but there is no doubt that master tapes were NOT used. The label ‘Equipe’ was a small indie but also had put out albums by notables like Eumir Deodato in the 60s. With a little digging it seems like a backup master could be found. Or at least a GOOD vinyl copy to work from. Oh, and they could hire a real mastering engineer and do it in a proper studio and maybe spend more than 45 minutes on the mastering.

Oh, and they totally fucked up the track order on the outer tray of the album. Thankfully, the songs are actually in the correct playing order on the CD, just listed wrong on the reissue jacket. Just as embarrassing, they actually have the tracks numbers for José Roberto’s arrangements correct inside the booklet. Just how quickly is Discobertas rushing this stuff out? Don’t they have anybody proofreading or (gods forbid!) LISTENING to these before putting out on the market?

Other than these small complaints (!), it is of course a joy to have this album back in print. I suppose we can expect another reissue of it sometime around 2020, if the world hasn’t ended by then.

The music is fantastic, and that’s what matters! Right? …. Yeah, right.

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