Carmen Miranda – Os Carnavais de Carmen (2006)

Ruy Castro apresenta
Os Carnavais de Carmen
CARMEN MIRANDA

01 – Querido Adão
Benedicto Lacerda, Oswaldo Santiago
02 – Nova descoberta
Arlindo Marques Junior, Roberto Roberti
03 – Fala, meu pandeiro
Assis Valente
04 – O que é que você fazia ?
Hervé Cordovil, Noel Rosa
05 – Alô, alô, Carnaval
Hervé Cordovil, Janeiro Ramos
06 – Duvi-d-ó-dó
Benedicto Lacerda, João Barcellos
07 – Cantores de rádio
A. Ribeiro, João de Barro, Lamartine Babo
08 – Beijo bamba
André Filho
09 – Dou-lhe uma
André Filho, Alberto Rilbeiro
10 – Balancê
João de Barro, Alberto Ribeiro
11 – Minha terra tem palmeiras
João de Barro, Alberto Ribeiro
12 – Nem no sétimo dia
Benedicto Lacerda, Herivelto Martins
13 – Camisa listada
Assis Valente
14 – Onde vai você, Maria ?
Benedicto Lacerda, Darcy Oliveira
15 – A pensão da dona Stella
Paulo Barbosa, Oswaldo Santiago
16 – Cuidado com a gaita do Ary
Oswaldo Santiago, Paulo Barbosa

 

Well, dear readers, Carnaval is here again.  I am skipping it this year, since I recently rejoined the Jehovah’s Witnesses after my lapse, and promised Prince that I would spend a few days handing out fliers with him and the guy from The Revolution who always dressed like a surgeon on stage, Dr. Fink.  Maybe he will wear the hospital scrubs and mask while we go out, and it will feel like our own kind of private Carnaval, and I’ll feel less sad.
So this post goes out to all the other people who are missing Carnaval.  Because if you are within spitting distance of Carnaval right now, you should get off the damn internet and go outside.

Carmen Miranda deserves a more verbose entry on this blog than I can give her today.  The story of her life and career is so rich, complex, and fascinating that it often serves today as a didactic lesson on Brazilian history and culture.  But I’m not feeling teacherly this evening.  For now, suffice it to say that she was a tremendously talented woman, and the reigning queen of samba for many years in the 1930s.  She also featured in many musical comedy films of the day – one of which features prominently in the CD presented here – before she left for the US to star in Broadway shows and, of course, Hollywood films.This collection was released as a companion to the biography penned by Ruy Castro.  I haven’t read Castro’s book but I’ve no doubt that it’s excellent.  (His book on bossa nova is great fun, even if I suspect some of it is rather apocryphal, and I was just given a lovely Christmas present of his newest book on the golden age of samba-canção, which I am looking forward to reading.)  Castro gets to take all the credit at the excellent song selection here and on the other three discs that came out at the same time.  I’m not sure why they weren’t put out as a boxset, and in fact I find it rather irritating: one of the four discs has eluded me for several years now.

For the samba aficionados among us, a glance at the track list with the composer credits gives a clear idea of what we’ve signed up for.  Assis Valente, Lamartine Babo, Noel Rosa, João de Barro, Hervé Cordovil, Benedito Lacerda… Not much to complain about there.  These are all Odeon releases from the period after she left the Victor label.  Here’s one of my favorites from this set, Assis Valente’s “Camisa Listrada”

And she has guests to duet with like Silvio Caldas, Barbosa Junior, and – most famously – her sister Aurora.  She sings with her sisters Cecilia and Aurora on “Alô, Alô Carnaval”, a song from the film of the same name which is sadly the only one of her Brazilian-made films to survive the ravages of time.  There is a very famous, iconic scene in it where Carrmen and Aurora sing “Cantores do radio” in matching sparkly suits.  It is up on YouTube but the audio is barely listenable: somewhat disgracefully, it seems as if nobody has done a proper restoration of this film yet.  They did record it as a 78 single, which appears in this collection, so here’s an awesome still image and you can just play the CD and look at it:

Isn’t it great?
Some other musical highlights are Beijo Bamba, Balancê, A pensão da dona Stella, and her aforementioned duet with Silvio Caldas, Onde Você Vai, Maria? – for which I really wanted to post a YouTube clip but – shock and horror – it doesn’t exist on YouTube yet!  I guess you will just have to track down this CD or an approximation of it floating around the interwebs in the form of a random link somewhere…
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Dolores Duran – Canta Para Você Dançar (1957)

Dolores Duran – Canta Para Você Dançar…
1957 Copacabana CLP 11011
2010 reissue EMI 967873-2

1 Scapricciatiello
(F. Albano, P. Vento)
2 Por causa de você
(Dolores Duran, Tom Jobim)
3 Ohô-ahâ
(Kurt Feltz, Heinz Gletz)
4 Quem foi?
(Jorge Tavares, Nestor de Holanda)
5 Feiura não é nada
(Billy Blanco)
6 Que murmuren
(Ruben Fuentes, Rafael Cardenas)
7 Coisas de mulher
(Chico Baiano)
8 Viens
(G.Becaud, C.Aznavour)
9 Conceição
(Dunga, Jair Amorim)
10 Se papai fôsse eleito
(Billy Blanco)
11 Mi último fracaso
(Alfredo Gil)
12 Camelot
(Billy Blanco)
13 Only you
(A. Rand, B.Ram)
14 Estatuto de boite
(Billy Blanco)

Remastered by Luigi Hoffer and Carlos Savalla

Dolores Duran (1930-1959), not only had an unforgettable voice but also composed a lot of her best material.  A central figure in the early bossa nova scene, she succumbed to the occupational hazards of the bohemian lifestyle, dying in her sleep from a heart attack at 29 years old after an evening of music, drinking, and barbiturates.  Her lamentably short career left an solid recorded legacy but, having left this world so young, she is less celebrated outside Brazil than some of her bossa nova contemporaries who lived long enough to benefit from the global infatuation with the genre.  Here is a recording of her singing a song she co-wrote with Tom Jobim, released in 1957 on the LP featured in this post.

But Duran’s professional career reached back before the dawn of bossa to when a nightclub singer had to be able to sing a little of everything and have a broad repertoire.  That is reflected in choice of songs included here, which span foxtrots, boleros, rumbas, and of course samba.  Stylistic variation blurs into cosmopolitan sophistication too, as you realize that she sings in no less than six languages here.  In addition to her native Portuguese, she sings in Italian, Spanish, French, English, and Scat.  I don’t speak all these languages and am in no place to judge her
elocution, but as far as music is the language of love I deem Dolores to
have been more than fluent.  One fantastic track among these, which I highly recommend for your next dance party, is the French rumba number (how can you go wrong?) “Viens.”  The only English song is a rendition of The Platters “Only You.”  Here’s some side-by-side listening for you:

Oh and why the hell not, one more for good measure (sorry Ringo!):

I think Dolores’ version carries its weight quite well, and her English is lovely (although a Portuguese rewrite would have made it stand out more, and of course automatically make it more romantic, because it’s a Latin language, yo).  Apparently Duran had none other than Ella Fitzgerald in the audience at one of her performances, who complimented her version of “My Funny Valentine.” Man what heady days to have been hanging around the nightclubs of Rio.

The notes assert that the selection is culled from the most popular numbers in her repertoire, tried and tested in clubs, on the radio, at festivals, in films, and wherever else she could perform.  I believe it.  Everything here is sung with an easy confidence and charm of someone who knows her audience.  Her charm is so infectious, and her talent so seemingly effortless.  In addition to the collaboration with Jobim above, she also interprets first-rate sambas by the Titulares do Ritmo (“Coisas de Mulher”), and Dunga with Jair Amorim (“Conceição, originally recorded by Gaúcho vocal group Conjunto Farroupilha but immortalized by Cauby Peixoto a year before Dolores’ made her version).  There are two tunes penned by Billy Blanco here.  The first is “Feiura não é nada” (or “Ugliness ain’t no thang”), a satirical take on vanity, the transformative powers of the cosmetic industry, and its noble fight to eradicate world ugliness.  As far as I know the song was written specifically for Dolores to sing, which is the only way it comes off as humorous.  Blanco is brilliant but the humor in this song bugs me a little as a write this, but perhaps I am a bit tender on the topic of chauvinist, machista humor lately. Have you seen the guy in the 50’s? Here, have a look at Billy:

It may be just because there is a currently a hedgehog with a hair-weave running as a
candidate for Leader Of The Free World right now, and I’m burned out on
casual sexism, but I don’t think Billy was in any position of aesthetic or sartorial superiority.

There is very little footage of her performing live aside from some scenes in musical chanchada films, but I can imagine her commanding a room with her presence.  I also wonder about the impact of her passing on the other rising divas of the day.  As young as Dolores was, she was actually five years older than contemporaries like Maysa and Alaíde Costa and, as we know, in young person time that made her, like, way old, dude.  Was she a figure that these other singers looked up to, or were they rivals?  I suppose I will have to read Rodrigo Faour’s biography to find that out.

Like many successful Long Player collections of the day, this one had a “part two” which I just may share with you in good time.  Meanwhile, one last comparison.  Here is Cauby Peixoto, before he became the inspiration for Austin Powers, singing “Conceição”, followed by Dolores’ version.


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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.

——————————–

“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.

Ataulfo Alves – Vida de Minha Vida, Vol. 1 (1933 -1956)

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VIDA DE MINHA VIDA – ATAULFO ALVES VOL. 1
Ataulfo Alves 1993 Revivendo (RVCD 086)

1 Sexta-feira (Almirante, 1933)
2 Saudades do meu barracão  (Floriano Belham, 1935)
3 O coração não envelhece  (Ataulfo Alves e Seu Estado Maior, 1950)
4 Teus olhos  (Aurora Miranda, 1939)

5 Mulher, toma juízo (Gilberto Alves, 1938)
6 Canção do nosso amor  (Déo. 1939)
7 Não irei lhe buscar (Ataulfo Alves e Suas Pastoras, 1944)
8 Fale mal, mas fale de mim  (Aracy de Almeida. 1939)
9 Até breve  (Sylvio Caldas, 1937)
10 Vida de minha vida  (Ataulfo Alves, 1949)
11 Mensageiro da saudade  (Elisete Cardoso, 1950)
12 Eu não sabia  (Anjos do Inferno, 1943)
13 Rainha da beleza  (Orlando Silva, 1937))
14 Mártir no amor  (Ataulfo Alves e Suas Pastores, 1945)
15 Mulher do Seu Oscar  (Odete Amaral, 1940)
16 Mil corações  (Nuno Roland, 1938)
17 Quanta tristeza! (Carlos Galhado, 1937)
18 Quem me deve me paga  (Ataulfo e Suas Pastores, 1956)
19 Errei sim (Dalva de Oliveira, 1950)
20 Pelo amor que eu tenho a ela  (Francisco Alves, 1936)
21 Pai Joaquim d’Angola  (Ataulfo Alves e Suas Pastoras, 1955)

Produced by Leon Barg
Engineering – Ayrton Pisco

Recordings originally made for the following labels: Odeon, RCA Victor, Columbia, Star, and Sínter


 Ataulfo Alves was a badass.  He was one of a rare handfull of samba
composers of his generation who also had a successful career as a
recording artist at the same time, and was amazing in both roles.  He had striking good looks and stage charisma, a marvelous singing voice, and his arrangements of his own tunes are some of the funkiest things you’ll hear from the golden age of samba.  These
two volumes from Revivendo (a label that is to older “Velha Guarda”
music what Chronological or Yazoo are to U.S. music) do a fantastic job
of presenting some of his own recordings alongside hits by huge icons of
the day like Francisco Alves, Silvio Caldas, Aracy de Almeida,
Almirante, Orlando Silva and others.  They all bring tremendous vivacity to his work.  Both Carmen Miranda AND her sister
Aurora are represented.  Another rarity of note is one side of Elizete
Cardoso’s very first 78 rpm recording.  Apparently the release was
recalled “for technical reasons” (no idea what that means), and no
indication is given of what was used for this CD – in spite of the date
being 1950, the sound is much worse than the tracks dating from the 30s.
 Anyway it is cool to have it.

I love the Revivendo label.  The
sound is typically very good, avoiding the pitfalls of trying to
“polish” these old gems with heavy-handed noise reduction and so on.  
 I wish they would hire a decent graphic designer, though.

Ataulfo deserves a long blog post celebrating his life and work.  But it is carnaval right this second and what are you doing at home on the internet anyway?  If you aren’t in a carnivalesque country, at least put on some music and dance around your room.

It is hard to pick a few tunes off this for a short playlist because, seriously, they are all great.  But here are a few, including one performed by the Anjos do Inferno, a group whose name translates into “Hell’s Angels” which is kind of funny since they couldn’t be more temporally or culturally removed from the biker gang or from Roger Corman exploitation flicks.   These are Hells Angels you could invite over for tea.  

 

Jamelão – A Voz do Samba Vol. 2 (2002)

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Jamelão
A Voz do Samba, Volume 2
2002 Warner Brasil (092745933-2)


1. Vingança
2. Nervos de aço
3. Ela disse-me assim
4. Exemplo
5. Volta
6. Nunca
7. Meu natal
8. Torre de babel
9. Meu barraco
10. Loucura
11. Cadeira vazia
12. Esses moços (Pobres moços)
13. Quem há de dizer
14. Sozinha

All songs composed by Lupicínio Rodrigues, with the following tracks featuring co-authors: “Meu Barraco” with Leduvy de Pina; “Cadeira Vazia”  and “Quam Há De Dizer”  with Alcides Gonçalves.

Original recordings spanning from 1959 to 1987.

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In my last post on Jamelão, Volume 1 of this anthology, I was pretty emphatic in my disinterest for hearing an entire hour of samba-enredos back to back, as well as my belief that the record didn’t really do justice to Jamelão.  The man himself would probably have disagreed with me; at least regarding the first part of this complaint, because he was in fact exalted as a master of the form of samba enredo.  But I’ll continue to stand by the second half of my gripe:  the “Jamelão I know and love” is right here on THIS disc, which begins in the 1950s and is comprised entirely of compositions from his friend Lupicínio Rodrigues.  The 50s were an auspicious time for Jamelão:  he moved from the Sintér label to Discos Continental and began working with the wonderful Orchestra Tabajara, with whom he criss-crossed Brazil and made it as far as France on tour.  It was while touring with Tabajara that he crossed paths with Lupicínio in Porto Alegre, and soon after the two began a partnership that would make their names practically synonymous with each other.  A great many artists have recorded memorable versions of Lupicínios work, some preceding Jamelão like Orlando Silva and Francisco Alves, and many who followed him – two tracks on this collection, “Nervos de aço” and “Volta” both received impressive renditions by Paulinho da Viola and Gal Costa, respectively, which I happened to be listening to recently because I have become fixated on the magical year of 1973 for some reason.  The list of other renditions of these tunes would doubtless be quite large, but it was the voice of Jamelão that made Lupicínio Rodrigues a household name and etched him in the collective consciousness.  Orchestra Tabajara, who had relocated from Paraiba to Rio right about the time Jamelão approached them with songs to record, pull off some swinging performances with inventive arrangements.  Pianist and bandleader Severino Araújo,  could give the ubiquitous Maestro Gaya a run for his money.  The brass charts are all delicious, and check out the jazzy interplay on “Vingança” or “Meu barraco.”  

This collection is so good that I even like the tracks recorded in the 1980s, so often a decade of embarrassment for artists whose careers began elsewhere in time.   As is sadly typical of Brazilian reissues, this collection is sparse on detailed notes, apart from a brief text written by the stalwart Tarik de Souza.   Seems like typical record label suits skimping on the artistic patrimony of a giant like Jamelão who deserves better.  The dodgy mastering job is credited to a generic “Oficína de Áudio e Video”, and some of the cuts from the 60s sound like they had reverb added to them.   This was probably done to give more continuity to the collection – indeed, it is hard to distinguish what decade each song was recorded in without peeking at the credits – but this is also due as much to the infallible integrity of Jamelão and Orchestra Tabajara, without the “help” of any digital enhancement.   


Sometime this year I will post some of the Continental LPs I have Jamelão. I posted about the first disc in this series here.  And you can find more of his stuff at Orfãos do Loronix.

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