Ataulfo Alves – A Você – Volume 2 (1936-1962)

A VOCÊ – ATAULFO ALVES VOL. 2
Ataulfo Alves
1996 Revivendo RVCD 112
1 A você – 1937, Carlos Galhardo
(Aldo Cabral, Ataulfo Alves)
2 É um que a gente tem – 1941, Carmen Miranda
(Torres Homem, Ataulfo Alves)
3 No meu sertão – 1937, Augusto Calheiros
(Ataulfo Alves)
4 Ela sempre ela – 1950, Ataulfo Alves
(César Brasil, Ataulfo Alves)
5 Infidelidade – 1948, Déo
(Américo Seixas, Ataulfo Alves)
6 Geme negro – 1946, Ataulfo Alves
(Sinval Silva, Ataulfo Alves)
7 Eu não sou daqui – 1941, Aracy de Almeida
(Ataulfo Alves, Wilson Batista)
8 Sinto-me bem – 1941, Nelson Gonçalves
(Ataulfo Alves)
9 Ironia – 1938, Odete Amaral
(M. Nielsen, Bide, Ataulfo Alves)
10 Reminiscências – 1939, Carlos Galhardo
(Ataulfo Alves)
11 Lá na quebrada do monte – 1941, Ataulfo Alves
(F. Martins, Ataulfo Alves)
12 Vai, mas vai mesmo – 1958, Nora Ney
(Ataulfo Alves)
13 Mania da falecida – 1939, Cyro Monteiro
(Ataulfo Alves, Wilson Batista)
14 Positivamente não – 1940, Aracy de Almeida
(Marino Pinto, Ataulfo Alves)
15 Mal de raiz – 1951, Déo
(Américo Seixas, Ataulfo Alves)
16 Pela Luz Divina – 1945, Ataulfo Alves
(Mário Travassos, Ataulfo Alves)
17 Saudade dela – 1936, Sylvio Caldas
(Ataulfo Alves)
18 Na cadência do samba – 1962, Jorge Veiga
(Paulo Gesta, Ataulfo Alves)
19 Talento não tem idade – 1952, Ataulfo Alves
(Ataulfo Alves)
20 Arrasta o pé moçada – 1951, Carlos Galhardo
(Maria Elisa, Ataulfo Alves)
21 Errei… erramos – 1938, Orlando Silva
(Ataulfo Alves)
 
Recordings originally released on Odeon, Star, Continental, Victor, RCA Victor, and Todamérica labels

 

Meus companheiros do samba
Do samba bem brasileiro
Ouçam o lamento de um triste
Que tem na alma um pandeiro
O samba foi lá em casa
E disse a mim soluçando
Tiraram tudo de belo que eu tinha
Pediu socorro chorando
Onde andarão os valores
Daqueles tempos de outrora
Seus lindos versos de amores
Que até hoje o povo chora
Voltem de novo que é grande a saudade
Talento não tem idade

So all hell has broken loose in Brazil since the last time I made a blog post of Brazilian music.  I’m not even going to touch it today – if you want to read about it English, there are some good sources out there (but mostly mediocre ones).  Otherwise, poor yourself a glass of something – wine, whiskey, milk, the blood of the workers, orange juice, I don’t really care – and prepare to enjoy some great music.

A long time ago, in a galaxy next door, I posted the first of these two Ataulfo Alves collections from the Revivendo label and, naturally, implied strongly that the second one would be soon to come.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while you should know better than to believe such silver-tongued assurances.  Like the fortune teller told me once, it is my destiny to let people down.

One of my favorite blog readers, Valladão, commented on the first installment that he honestly didn’t expect to enjoy the CD too much because of the age of the recordings, but instead found himself loving it.  That struck me as an interesting comment because I suppose it is a natural enough bias no matter where you come from.  Even though as a teenager I spent countless hours borrowing old jazz and blues records from the public library, I think  a few decades would pass before I could appreciate pre-war American jazz and blues beyond a detached, almost academic interest and begin to hear it in a more personal way.  Perhaps in a similar way, the extremely dense and layered bedrock of Brazilian popular music can sometimes goes unacknowledged by music fans, regardless of nationality.  You know it is there under your feet, supporting the present and making possible so many of the things in life that you appreciate, but it remains unexamined, taken for granted.  Well, I was delighted to hear that Valladão was turned on to one of his country’s great samba composers because of an innocuous blog post here.  I also think there is something extremely “modern” or at least forward-thinking about Ataulfo Alves’ compositions that keeps them sounding fresh (although he is definitely not alone in that regard).  He churned out a dazzling variety of material, performing chameleon-feats of tailored stylizations, until it is difficult to comprehend how the same person could have written everything represented in this and other collections.  There are threads that tie them together, but I will leave that to the musicologists to explain in depth while I simply marvel at the work, deliberately dumbfounded.  If I could meet Ataulfo today, or summon his spirit to ask detailed and nuanced questions about his life and career, I would probably just end up asking him: “Are you a wizard?”

This collection features so many different artists who recorded Ataulfo’s compositions that it becomes kind of impossible to properly present the disc without writing a post that would exceed the patience of most readers.  The scant liner notes from Revivendo are kind of disappointing in that regard as well.  Suffice it to say that all of the artists collected here have their own squares in the quilt of Brazil’s “Golden Age” of samba.  I like these Ataulfo collections so much that I’ve included several tracks in various podcasts over the years: in fact, two on this disc (the Carmen Miranda and Jorge Veiga cuts) appeared on my first ever genre-specific podcast from February, dedicated to samba.  I’ll just single out a couple below that tickle my eardrums.

The wonderful Odete Amaral performs the carnival hit “Ironia.”  Odete put in a lot of time on sessions as a backup singer, appearing on many great recordings by Francisco Alves and Mario Reis and others from the Golden Age.  She married Ciro Monteiro, who also appears on this collection more than once.  Thirty years after this recording, incidentally, she would appear on the historic “Fala, Mangueira” album alongside Nelson Cavaquinho, Cartola, and Clementina de Jesus.

Many of Ataulfo’s compositions show a strong influence of choro or chorinho, like Infidelidade sung by Déo.  Is that Pixinguinha and Abel Ferreira I hear playing? Strains of that inspiration are heard on a great deal of the instrumental ornamentation woven throughout this material like filigree.  Listen to the flute flourishes dancing around Aracy de Almeida singing “Eu Não Sou Daquí” and Nelson Gonçalves on “Sinto-me Bem.”  Later on, Déo is featured again and gets downright jazzy as he croons over some punchy blasts of horns that wouldn’t sound out of place on a big band record.  The popularity of Latin dance band styles like mambo is evident throughout this collection as well.

My first exposure to Nora Ney was an early 70s record for which Vinicius de Moraes wrote the liner notes.  At the time, not being familiar with her classic material, I was left indifferent.  The track “Vai, vai mesmo” from 1958 has a wicked kind of edge to it, a deliciously cool “get out of my life” break-up tune.  It was also a carnival hit.  Also, it has a tuba bass line.

I mentioned in the post for the first volume how Ataulfo is that rare specimen for the era who was both a composer widely-recorded by the top singers of the day, and a first-class performer of his own material at the same time with a successful singing career.  He shares that accomplishment with Noel Rosa and some others, but the trajectory of composers like Ismael Silva or Cartola, who came back as performers in another subsequent wave of music, seems to be more common.

Although there are the exact same number (5) by Ataulfo himself on both volumes, for some reason these didn’t jump out as me as much. Or perhaps they just fit in better with the rest of the material?  The influence of jazz once again bleeds all of “Ela, Sempre Ela.”  Then there is a kind of seresta waltz with a country or caipira vibe, “Lá No Quebrada Do Monte.”  I was considering featuring a clip of “Pela Luz Divina” because it’s awesome, but this post is getting rather thick with YouTube clips and I want to chose just one more track.  The aforementioned Jorge Viega puts in a memorable rendition of the much-recorded “Na Cadência Do Samba” from 1962, the “newest” track on this disc.  This is a trademark tune for Ataulfo, and the liner notes state that Viega’s recording might be the first but they’re not really sure, because several versions were released almost simultaneously. You can hear Viega’s version tucked into that podcast I mentioned, so let’s feature an Ataulfo performance from this disc (which happens to have a similar melody in the refrain),  “Talento Não Tem Idade,” where he is backed by Guio de Moraes e Seu Conjunto, kind of a Brazilian Pérez Prado.  This recording features an electric guitar on it, a decade before certain purists would start claiming that electricity was killing samba, as well as a full drum kit swinging the beat with panache.  But there is no doubt the song is 100% samba. The drummer plays a floor-tom fill halfway through the song that bangs out the rhythm where the surdo drum would be, which kicks the song into another level of intensity, slowing down slightly for the ending so that you aren’t left too disappointed that the it’s over.  The notes observe that the recording had no impact on the public via chart success, but I imagine musicians and composers of the upcoming generation playing this one on the Victrola and having their mind’s blown.  The sub-genres of jazz-samba (and samba-jazz) were really still nascent, developing phenomena when this record was made in 1952.  This was guy was so nonchalantly on the cutting edge of his musical times, he was the definition of “cool.”

The disc winds down with a marchinha sung by Carlos Galhardo, “Arraste O Pé, Moçada”, and a grand finale from Orlando Silva in “Errei, Erramos” (1938), arranged by Radamés Gnattali, in which Silva seems to be channeling Carmen Miranda in his phrasing.   Oh, I almost forgot to mention: the Carmen song featured here, “É um que a gente tem” (1941), is one of the songs she recorded to respond to her critics that lambasted her after her return from living and working in the US. They accused her of having become Americanized, her concert appearances were panned, and she quickly turned around and went back to the US to stay, but not before recording a handful of killer sambas fighting back at her attackers.  The most of famous of these had the rather forthright title of “Disseram que eu voltei americanizada” (They said I came back Americanized).  The Odeon sat on this recording here and didn’t release it until the scandal had passed, when they were scraping the vault for any more Carmen material.

Not a bad song here, folks.  Compilations like this one represent the best that the Revivendo label have to offer, so listen up.

 

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password: vibes

Flabberform Focus No.1: Samba

A new atomic era of podcasts dedicated to particular styles and genre of music is being kicked off with a spontaneous homage to the endless wellspring of musical energy known as samba.  I hope you enjoy it, and with any luck I’ll make more of these. Saravá!I’ll provide direct links for MP3 and FLAC downloads for your convenience in the next 12 hours.  In the meantime here it is streaming on Mixcloud.

Direct download links:

Mp3 320 kbs

FLAC  16-bit

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Os Originais do Samba – Lá Vem Salgueiro
Elza Soares – Bom dia, Portela
Xangô da Mangueira – Jequitibá do Samba
Darcy da Mangueira – Samba do Trabalhador
Clara Nunes – Candongueiro
Clementina de Jesus – Embala Eu
Giovana – Pisa nesse Chão com Força
Roberto Ribeiro – Coração Contrariado
Os Partideiros 10 – Barra Pesada and Compadre
Roberto Silva – Era Atômica
Francisco Alves – Ai, Ai Que Pena!
Luiz Ayrão – Porta Aberta
Caetano Veloso – Chuva, Suor e Cerveja
Os Demônios da Garoa – Um Samba no Bixiga
Cesar Costa Filho – Um Bilhete pra Longe
Leci Brandão – Decepção de uma Porta-Bandeira
João Nogueira – As Forças da Natureza
Dorival Caymmi e Bando da Lua – Acontece que Eu Sou Baiano
Carmen Miranda – É um Quê que a Gente Tem
Raul de Barros – Folhas Secas
Maria Creuza – Amor de Mãe
João Bosco – O Mestre-Sala dos Mares
Jorge Veiga – Na Cadência do Samba

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)

 photo LuzDaInspiracaoCD_zpsa2a597cb.jpg
 photo axe_zps869ce97e.jpg

                  
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)

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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.