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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Elis Regina – Ela (1971)

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ELA
Elis Regina
1971 Phonogram
CD Reissue 1998 Philips

1 Ih! meu Deus do Céu
(Ronaldo Monteiro, Ivan Lins)
2 Black is beautiful
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Cinema Olympia
(Caetano Veloso)
4 Golden slumbers
(McCartney, Lennon)
5 Falei e disse
(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
6 Aviso aos navegantes
(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
7 Mundo deserto
(Erasmo Carlos, Roberto Carlos)
8 Ela
(César Costa Filho, Aldir Blanc)
9 Madalena
(Ronaldo Monteiro, Ivan Lins)
10 Os argonautas
(Caetano Veloso)
11 Estrada do Sol
(Dolores Duran, Tom Jobim)

Produced by Nelson Motta
with studio assistance from Roberto Menescal
Arrangements by Chico de Morais
Front cover by Aldo Luiz


Today, January 19, marked 30 years since the death of one of Brazil’s most beloved divas, Elis Regina. The last few years of her career saw her recording lots of crap, but during the 60s and the better part of the 70s she had a long string of solid records, even if the quality of her repertoire (and the number of songwriters from which she drew) dwindled over time. I’ve picked this record not because it’s representative or a masterpiece or anything like that — it’s neither – but because I think it probably gets overlooked since it is chronologically sandwiched between a couple of her other records that overshadow it.

I always considered this sort of a weak effort but the album has grown on me over the years. It is sort of Elis’ foray into the nascent Brazilian soul movement of the time, a genre for which she wasn’t particularly well-suited. There were two big hits off it – Madalena from Ivan Lins, and Black Is Beautiful from Marcos and Paulo Sérgio Valle. The former is classic Elis Regina and deserved to be a smash hit; the latter is much better on the original ‘Garra’ album from Marcos Valle. The lyrics are so bizarre by today’s standards (and rather politically incorrect, although kind of hilarious) that I really can’t picture anyone other than Marcos Valle pulling it off. The thing about the Brothers Valle is they could be very clever, subtle, and ironic without seeming to be any of those things, and I’ve speculated elsewhere on the different interpretations a listener could give their song ‘Black Is Beautiful’. But with Elis’ schmaltzy, cabaret-style version, what you get is an over-literal, superficial reading of the tune that drags on for at least a minute too long. And like many things superficial, it was a bigger success.

In fact this album stands out for Elis and/or Nelson Motta’s choice to tackle material that was pretty strongly associated with other popular artists. The most obvious of these being, naturally, her taking on The Beatles` “Golden Slumbers”. Although I didn’t like it the first time I heard it, I`ve changed my mind about it and now think its damn cool and is one of the strongest cuts here. Her version of Cinema Olympia, a song written by Caetano Veloso but associated with Gal Costa after appearing on one of her first records, is kind of redundant and pointless, although I appreciate the funky wah-wah guitar. And, sure, Elis could sing the phonebook and I would be happy, but when taking on material associated with one of her peers as esteemed as Gal, she ought to bring something more to the song, instead of less… Much better is her irreverent recording of Caetano’s, “Os Navegantes”, which appeared on his “white album” recorded as something like a Portuguese fado. Here, the verses are sung like a soul ballad, and the choruses are organ-fringed lounge jazz. The tune never takes off with the fire that Elis was capable of imparting to it, but in a way it’s her restraining of herself that makes it work. Not sure about the lounge arrangement though; this song makes me wonder what the whole album would have sounded like with Erlon Chaves on arrangements, who had done some wonderful work with Elis. The song “Mundo deserto” by Erasmo and Roberto Carlos is pretty bad ass. I like Elis singing their songs. Probably the most unexpected tune is a Jobim/Dolorus Duran piece that closes the album, `Estrada do sol`, which is almost outrageously bombastic and pretty goddamn original. It’s a great closer for a bit of an uneven album that I continue to appreciate more over time.


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Marcos Valle – Braziliance! (1967)

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Braziliance!

a música de Marcos Valle

1967 Odeon (MOFB 379)

Reissued 2011 as part of the box `Marcos Valle Tudo`

1 Os grilos

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

2 Preciso aprender a ser só

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

3 Batucada surgiu

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

4 Seu encanto

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)

5 Samba de verão

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

6 Vamos pranchar

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

7 Tando andei

(Marcos Valle)

8 Dorme profundo

(Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)

9 Deus brasileiro

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

10 Patricinha

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

11 Passa por mim

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

12 Se você soubesse

(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

Marcos Valle – acoustic guitar, piano on ‘Patricinha’ and vocals on ‘Deus brasileiro’

Eumir Deodato – piano and arrangements on all tracks except ‘Patricinha’

Luiz Marinho and Sérgio Barroso – bass

Wilson das Neves – drums

Rubens Bassini and Jorge Arena – percussion

Ed Maciel, Raul de Souza, and Norato – trombone

Maurílio Santos – trumpet and flugelhorn

Aurino Ferreira and Alberto Gonçalves – baritone sax

Zé Bodega, Cipó, Walter Rosa – tenor sax

Paulo Moura and Jorginho – alto sax

Copinha, Jorginho, J.T.Meirelles – flute

Neco, Geraldo Vespar, Roberto Menescal – electric guitar

Marcos Valle doesn’t have much to say about this album. In fact it is the ONLY disc out of the 11 in this set in which he didn’t write an introductory blurb. It is almost as if he is saying, curtly, to the press, “No comment.” Well, I don’t have much to say either. It is the weakest disc in the box and contributes to bossa nova undeserving reputation as `elevator music` to those who don’t know any better.

He tells a bit of the backstory about this album only in passing, when introducing the “unreleased album” at the end of the boxset. In short, when “Samba de Verão” became a huge international hit and ended up being recorded in the USA by the likes of Connie Francis (!) and Johnny Mathis, record company executives were clammering at his door to bring him to the US and record. In a confusing rapid sequence of events which were only partly clarified for me by Marcos` notes in another disc in this set, but which in truth only left me confused until the contributions of one of my blog friends here, pawylshyn, set me straight, this album was NOT recorded in the US in spite of what I consider a very “American sound.” A production credit by West Coast lyricist Ray Gilbert (who, aside from writing English lyrics for songs penned by Brazilian composers, is probably most famous for the tune “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”) further threw me off in my having thought this album was recorded in Los Angeles or someplace. Nope, it was recorded in Lapa, RJ, but with Gilberto and Aloysio de Oliveira (founder of Elenco Records) and NOT Milton Miranda Once more, a whole bunch of great players here — it’s as if every album adds more incredible musicians who want to work with Marcos, this time bringing in new folks on horns like the inimitable Paulo Moura as well as Zé Bodega. Geraldo Vaspar and Roberto Menescal on electric guitar? This almost seems like a typographical error… Anyway, in spite of the huge cast of great musicians here, and the presence of Deodato again as arranger, the album has a very, well, “American” sound. Too many strings for my taste. Not enough horns, not enough jazz, and most definitely not enough of MARCOS VALLE. Still, there’s some gems here — its the first appearance of ‘Os grilos’ in this box, a song that appears on `Samba 68` with lyrics. It’s an infectiously good tune and would be recorded a few more times by Marcos himself. The version of “Samba de verão” is not too shabby, and “Batucada surgui” actually kind of smokes with jazz swing. Others are sadly watered down, musak-like versions of otherwise great songs. “É preciso aprender a ser só” being one of those. You can pick the others yourself. On the other hand this may be prime material for the crowd who likes ‘kitsch’ and cheesy lounge music to sit around and practice being ironic.

It truly seems like Marcos would rather just forget that he made this album. Obviously (see the comments below from readers), some people like this album or at least find it pleasant. I could call it pleasant, in fact, since it’s not as if it *offends* me or anything. It’s not terrible music; it’s just not terribly interesting.


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Marcos Valle – Samba "Demais" (1963) Remaster with bonus tracks

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SAMBA “DEMAIS”
Marcos Valle
1963 Odeon (MOFB 3376)

Reissue 2011 in Boxset `Marcos Valle Tudo` (EMI 026460-2)

1 Vivo sonhando
(Tom Jobim)
2 Amor de nada
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Moça flor
(Luiz Fernando Freire, Durval Ferreira)
4 Canção pequenina
(Pingarilho)
5 Razão do amor
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
6 Tudo de você
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Sonho de Maria
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Ela é carioca
(Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)
9 Ilusão à toa
(Johnny Alf)
10 Ainda mais lindo
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 E vem o sol
(Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
12 A morte de um Deus de sal (Roberto Menescal, Ronaldo Bôscoli)

BONUS TRACKS
13. Amor de nada (instrumental version)
14. Ainda mais lindo (instrumental version)

Marcos Valle – vocal, acoustic guitar
Eumir Deodato – piano, organ, arrangements
Sérgio Barroso – bass
Juquinha – drums
Ugo Marotta – vibraphone
Roberto Menescal, Geraldo Miranda – acoustic guitar
Marçal – percussion
Copinha – flute
Hamilton and Edson Maciel – trombone
Maurilio Santos – trumpet
Jorginho – alto sax
J.T. Meirelles and Cipó – tenor sax
Alberto Gonçalvez – baritone sax

Produced by Milton Miranda

Flabber general blurb about this boxset: IT’S ABOUT FUCKING TIME. At least half the albums in this box have been out of print for years, another shameful legacy of an unappreciative middle class (the only Brazilians with disposable income for non-pirated CDs) and an industry more concerned with quick profits than preserving its own legacy.

There have been a boat-load of career retrospective boxsets released in Brazil over the last year or so. I have not heard all of them, nor do I have interest in hearing all of them — but of the ones I own or have heard, this is by far the best. Marcos Valle was directly involved in the project with Charles Gavin and it seems like a real labor of love. The sound is nice and warm (it is hard for me to compare to original vinyl, since I have only heard one of these on vinyl in my entire life and would probably have to sell a kidney to buy one. Or, kidnap a street urchin and sell HIS kidney.) Each album except one includes bonus tracks – in many cases, just instrumental mixes of the same takes used on the album, in other cases B-sides to singles, and in still others alternate instrumental mixes.

Marcos also wrote introductions for each album (except one) – short but informative and adding a nice personal touch that is missing from boxes such as, for example, the Jorge Ben box.

This is not a *complete* discography for this time period. It is lacking three albums that I know of: “Samba 68” recorded for Verve in the United States, “O Fabuloso Fittipaldi” from 1973, a rare-as-fuck film soundtrack that I’ve never heard, and “Vila Sesamo”, the TV soundtrack for the Brazilian version of Sesame Street, which I uploaded a long time ago here. These were all released on different record labels, which surely accounts for their being left out of this box.

Marcos Valle and his brother Paulo Sérgio worked with a truly mind-blowing number of first class musicians and arrangers, as we will see as this boxset ‘unfolds’ on the tracker. Literally, too many ‘heavy weight’ figures to list here without the tracker rejecting my upload (again).

But perhaps the biggest testimony to Valle’s integrity is the inclusion of a bonus disc of a totally unreleased album. Not a collection of outtakes, b-sides, or rarities included on compilations or soundtracks. A full album that actually went unreleased, because it was never completed (we’ll talk about why not when we get to it). And what is *particularly* noble about this is that whereas many artists would have decided to ‘finish’ the album by recording new tracks to “complete their vision” (Brian Wilson and “Smile”, anyone?), Marcos made the commendable choice to… do nothing at all. He presents the album just as it was when it was abandoned — only a couple songs have vocal tracks, the rest leaving it to our imaginations. And it’s great.

——————–

MARCOS IN HIS OWN WORDS (free translation by Flabbergasted Enterprises LTD)

My first musical influences were in the northeastern music of Luiz Gonzaga and Jackson do Pandeiro, so much so that (many years later) I would begin to play the accordion. Afterwards came samba, Ravel, Debussy (at six years old, when I began to study piano and classical music), rock, jazz, black American music, and bossa nova. But on my first album `Samba “Demais”` what dominates is the influence of bossa – I was fascinated by the music of Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Carlos Lyra, Johnny Alf, Roberto Menescal, Sérgio Ricardo and others.

I have a certain special affection for this album – it contains ‘Sonho de Maria’, my first composition to be recorded, also in 1963, by the Tamba Trio. The lyrics are by my brother Paulo Sérgio (it was the beginning of our partnership) and the arrangements are by Eumir Deoodato (he was already immensely talented and alter we became great friends).

With ‘Samba “Demais”‘ I received my first accolades as an emerging composer and interpreter.

-Marcos Valle, 2011

FLABBER review of *this* album:

Valle’s debut record, which I believe has stayed in print pretty consistently, is solid, quality bossa nova, but it is not among my favorites in his catalog or in the genre. It got great reviews at the time and was nominated for several awards. It’s a strong album, really it is. My problems with it are quibbles, really. Released when Marcos was all of 20 years old, it is the only of his albums to feature other composer’s work: one of the most remarkable things about his discography is the immense number of songs written by him and his brother Paulo Sérgio Valle, when the standard in Brazil at the time was for singers to rely heavily on other composers. And while the compositions on this record are fine in themselves, his SECOND album really blows me away, so I can’t help thinking of this as a ‘first step’, which obviously it was (being a debut album, duh..). And although the material of other composers is well chosen, some of the lyrics (including some of Paulo Sérgio, who would only get better and better over the years) are fairly trite drivel.

The lyrics on this album ask the question: How many different ways can you compare a woman to a flower? Rhyme-laden, saccharine lyrics like those on ‘Moça Flor’ are probably what artists like Nara Leão and others had in mine when they criticized bossa nova for a sentimentalism that was increasingly out of touch with the turbulent times and vast social inequities and injustices of the 1960s:

“Moça flor
Tem a cor do amor
Seu olhar a brilhar
E essa lágrima leve querendo chegar”

… I tried to translate this into English but every time I started, I would throw up in my mouth a little bit. Let me try my own bilingual musical criticism instead: Cada um tem seu gosto, mas… isso é uma grande merda. // Everyone is entitled to their own taste, but… this is total crap. Still, apparently a lot of people DO like this song as its been recorded quite a few times.
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A look at the musician and arranger credits should be enough to convince any fan of Brazilian music to give this a try if you don’t already know the album. The arrangements from Eumir Deodato are first-class and the musicianship is superb. If the album as a whole doesn’t blow you away on first listen, don’t worry – his albums kept getting better, and we’re going to listen to a bunch of them together! This is a strong start for one of Brazil’s most prolific talents.

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Elis Regina – Como e Porque (1969)

elis regina

ELIS REGINA
“Como e porque”
Released 1969 on Philips

1 Aquarela Do Brasil/Nega Do Cabelo Duro (Barroso, Nasser, Soares) 3:02
2 O Sonho (Gismonti) 2:20
3 Vera Cruz (Borges, Nascimento) 2:34
4 Casa Forte (Lobo) 2:47
5 Canto de Ossanha (DeMoraes, Powell) 3:25
6 Giro (Adolfo, Gaspar) 2:16
7 O Barquinho (Boscoli, Menescal) 2:06
8 Andança (Caymmi, Souto, Tapajós) 3:14
9 Récit de Cassard [Do Filme “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg”] (Demy, Legrand) 2:52
10 Samba da Pergunta (Pingarilho, Vasconcellos) 1:32
11 Memórias de Marta Saré (Guarnieri, Lobo) 3:17

Along with her record from 1968, this is my favorite of her 1960s records. Arrangements by Roberto Menescal make this album unique in her discography. Menescal also contributes the most famous tuned he penned with friend Ronaldo Boscoli — “O Barquinho”, a tune written for Nara Leão, but stolen by Maysa when she stole Boscoli from her… Elis doesn’t surpass Maysa’s smoky rendition, but it’s still a delight for the ears.

Look at the eclectic songwriting credits on this one and you get an idea of how wonderful this record is — Ary Barroso, a young Egberto Gismonti, Lô Borgest/Milton Nascimento before they were household names, Edu Lobo, Baden Powell & vinicius, Antonio Adolfo (one of Brazil’s best kept secrets), Dori Caymmi. The two compositions here by Edu Lobo, who had quickly become Elis’ favored composer of this era, are among his best work: the wordless-but-vocalized Casa Forte, and the propulsive Memórias de Marta Saré. The latter closes the album and leaves you wanting more, a characterstic this album shares with its predeccesor from 68 but which all but her best records from the 70’s, in their usually-more downbeat melancholic moods, tend to lack.

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