Jamelão – A Voz do Samba, Volume 1 (2002)

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Jamelão
A Voz do Samba, Volume 1
2002 Warner Music (092745932-2)
Recordings from 1974-76
Originally issued as a 3-CD boxset in 1997

1 Apoteose ao samba     (Mano Décio, Silas de Oliveira)
2 Casa grande e senzala     (Zagaia, Comprido, Leléo)
3 Macunaíma     (Norival Reis, David Corrêa)
4 Quatro séculos de paixão     (Arroz, Graúna)
5 Cântico à natureza     (A. Lourenço, Jamelão, Nelson Sargento)
6 Dona Bêja – Feiticeira do Araxá     (Aurinho da Ilha)
7 O grande presidente      (Padeirinho)
8 Rio Antigo      (Cícero dos Santos, Pelado da Mangueira, Hélio Turco)
9 Zaquia Jorge, a estrela do subúrbio, vedete de Madureira     (Avarese)
10 Rio Grande do Sul na festa do preto fôrro      (Nilo Mendes, Dario Marciano)
11 No reino da mãe de ouro      (Talito, Rubens da Mangueira)
12 Terra de Caruaru      (Sidney da Conceição, Corvina)
13 Festa do Círio de Nazaré      (Nilo Mendes, Aderbal Moreira, Dario Marciano)
14 Mangueira em tempo de folclore     (Jajá, Manoel, Preto Rico)     
I am not ideologically committed to the idea of a chronology retrospective approach to box sets or collections, but it does have its merits.  I just don’t get
the sense of starting out with tracks taken exclusively from the years 1974-76, squarely in the middle of Jamelão’s prolific career.  That is what this collection, originally released as three discs together and then reissued separately,  has chosen for reasons that elude me.  Is it because the 70s “samba revival” production value is more accessible to our contemporary ears than the classic, larger band/orchestra style in which he made his first hits?   It could be, but if so then it’s a pretty weak argument.

Because what is beguiling about this is not really the chronology but the emphasis:   although Jamelão is renowned as the ultimate interpreter of the sambas written by his friend Lupicínio Rodriguez, this first disc is entirely comprised of samba enredo (none of which are associated with Lupicínio).

Now a while back I had a comment from a blog reader about how they couldn’t handle an entire album of partido alto all at once.  While I personally could listen to partido alto all day long, I know how they feel – because I feel that way about samba enredo.  For those unfamiliar, samba enredo  is the style of didactic story-song that is popular during carnival and during the huge open rehearsals leading up to it.  Part of that popularity is of course the talent of the composers, who get a little extra motivation in the big prizes, awards, and accolades involve, but it is also in the spectacle of huge production that will happen once and once only – something that does not necessarily transfer its excitement to a petroleum-based disc.  When Rio’s samba schools decide on an annual theme, it falls to the carnavalescos, the artists and designers of costumes and floats, to decide how to interpret it and present something new and original, reflecting the theme from a different angle than all the other samba schools, and to collaborate with the choreographers and musicians and sambistas to make it all cohere.  Truly a marvel of creative coordination, wouldn’t you say?  Samba writers give it their all, because if the affiliated samba school gets top rankings at the concursos or showcase competitions, it means a lot both for the school and for whichever singer and composer helped them win a new title.  While you might find humor and critique tucked away in the selections, what predominates are celebratory anthems of one or another variety of nationalism.   On this collection we have a few songs praising famous literary works (Casa Grande e Senzala, Macunaíma), politicians (O Grande Presidente), geographic areas, cities or states (Rio Antigo, Terra de Caruarú, Rio Grande do Sul Na Festa do Preto Fôrro), and religious or mystical themes (Festa do Círio de Nazaré), or famous prostitutes (Dona Bêja).  Interestingly, to get back on the subject of chronology, a few of these sambas actually debuted decades before the recordings on this collection were made.  O Grande Presidente, a praise song for the populist and popular, authoritarian “man of the people” Getulio Vargas, was featured in 1956’s carnival, a year and a half after his legendary and dramatic suicide.

It is worth pointing out that while Jamelão’s name is forever linked with the green and pink colors of his beloved Mangueira,  a few of the other prominent samba schools are represented here either through affiliated sambista composers or through the song having featured in a particular school’s carnaval presentation.  (Not all samba composers, nor all singers for that matter, don’t always work exclusively with one samba school.)   The opening track, which happens to be my favorite on the whole disc, Apoteose ao samba, is written by Silas de Oliveira and Mano Décio of the Império Serrano samba school, both of whom feature on the lovely Encontro Com a Velha Guarda album too.  Portela and Estácio de Sá also get some entries here.

So perhaps the logic of this release was to start the collection by highlighting Jamelão as a grand figure of carnaval across several generations.  Which, of course, he was. The next two volumes focus on his role as interpreter of Lupicínio Rodrigues’ sambas, and as a crooner of romantic samba, respectively.  Well at least they left us something to look forward to.

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Reposts – Sept 26, 2013

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From top left to bottom right:

 Antonio Adolfo e Brazuca (1970)
João Nogueira (1972)
Paulo Moura – Fibra (1971)
Ray Barretto – Indestructable (1973)
Bobby Hutcherson – Now! (1969) 
Alaíde Costa – Canta Suavamente (1960)

Some reups for all of you while I am busy with other things.  Please report any erroneous links you come across, cheers.

Nara Leão – Liberdade, Liberdade (1966)


Nara Leão, Paulo Autran, Tereza Rachel, Oduvaldo Vianna Filho
LIBERDADE, LIBERDADE
by Flavio Rangel and Millôr Ferndandes

Musical direction by Oscar Castro Neves
with Roberto Nascimento on guitar, Ico Castro Neves on string bass, Carlos Guimarães on flute, and Francisco Araújo on drums.  Vocal chorus comprised of Ângela Menezes, Maísa Sant’Anna, Sônio Márcia Perrone, and Roberto Quartin Pinto.

Released 1966 on Forma.  Recorded by R. Cardoso, produced by Gebara/Quartin.
2013 reissue remastered by Luigi Hoffer and Carlos Savalla
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Hino da Proclamação da República
Marcha da Quarta-Feira de Cinzas
Aruanda
Acertei no milhar
Eu não tenho onde morar
Com que roupa
Estatutos da gafieira
Té o sol raiar
Nobody knos the troubles I’ve seen
If you miss me at the back of the bus
Summertime
Leilão
Zumbi
Jota dos três imrãos
Cara al sol
Rumba la rumba
Marinera
Exatação a Tiradentes
Marcha da Quarta-Feira de Cinzas
Hino da Proclamação da República

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So, I recently got my hands on the new Nara Leão boxset.  I have been working my way through it slowly, savoring it, and it is a lot of stuff.  I’ve decided to share some of the less common offerings  first.  Last week we had the record 5 Na Bossa with Edu Lobo and Tamba Trio.   These week brings something probably more obscure.  Some records are obscure for a good reason.  This is one of them.  It would be hard to find a more tedious piece of heavy-handed mid-60s “engaged” material than this.  All that is missing is a rousing rendition of “L’Internationale” or at least “Kumbaya.”

The Brazilian theater and MPB have long had a symbiotic relationship.  Some day I might try to research and write a book about it.  For now, suffice it to say that in general theater people rub me the wrong way.  Maybe it was the mockery I received in that script-writing class I once took as a teenager, leaving me predisposed to dislike theatre people for the rest of my life.  This isn’t to say that I can’t appreciate a well done performance or the merits of a particular dramaturg or actor.  I just don’t want to end up at the cast party afterwards.  

This stage play features Paulo Autran, who I am sure was a very nice fellow.  I have nothing against him.  A veteran of Shakespeare and Brecht, he at least tries to bring the pathos of both to this production that is very much a product of its times.  A couple of years after starring in this play, Autran would feature in Glauber Rocha’s amazing film Terra Em Transe.  Scripted and directed by Flávio Rangel and Millôr Fernandes, “Liberdade, Liberdade” is historically important for being one of the first examples of ‘protest theatre’ in Brazil when it debuted in 1965, a year after the military coup but with the worst yet to come.  In fact by the time this record came out in ’66 it was prohibited to perform it on stage.  A great deal of the play is a patchwork of excerpts from such global freethinkers as Socrates, Martin Luther King, and Jesus. Subtlety is not its strong suit.  I am not going to attempt a critical appraisal on whether the play succeeds or fails at its aims, how so or in what measures, because ultimately the whole thing is just very dull.  Even the attempts at humor fail to actually lighten things up and seem kind of pedantic.  The songs included amidst the lefty soap boxing are rarely played or sung for more than a single verse and chorus.  So unlike Nara Leão’s similar hybrid of theatre and ‘música engajada’, the “Show Opinão”, this one just doesn’t hold up well to multiple listens.  It doesn’t help things that for the CD edition, no attempt to index tracks was made, meaning we have one continuous audio track of 48 minutes.  So forget just trying to find the musical snippets.  This is all a bigger shame because there are some killer compositions strewn about from the likes of Noel Rosa, Baden Powell, Vinicius, Caymmi, Billy Blanco, Carlos Lyra and others.   The music seems to have been performed off-mic too and comes out rather muffled.  (One odd technical note, the album jacket – at least the one featured on the reissue – lists this as a mono recording but it is actually in stereo, albeit mostly just occasional hard panning.)      

If you are dying to hear Nara Leão sing in English or can’t wait for Brazilian interpretations of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen,” then this album tem sua cara, you need look no further.  Actually the (partial) rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime” is pretty cool.

If you are researching that tumultuous period between the military coup of March 31, 1964 and the implementation of the AI-5 (Institutional Act Number 5) in ’67, this record will probably be of great interest to you.  If you are tuning in to hear the inimitable Nara Leão, it will likely be a footnote.

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In response to Le Porc Rouge’s question about the label Forma (below in the comments section, where everyone should stop in for a visit now and then),  I attempted to answer in the comments but failed due to size constraints.  I have updated this post with the following information.  My response, written as a comment directly to him:

Porco, I didn’t really know anything about the label either, other than that the amazing Moacir Santos’ “Coisas” is stupidly rare in Brazil even on CD.  But I did some searching for you and found a decent succinct write-up and what appears to be a nearly complete discography.  I took the liberdade of doing a quick free translation .. Hell if I had more of these titles, one of us should start a discog.page with credit to this guy.  His blog post is HERE.   The head honcho Roberto Quartin also has an entry at the Dicionário Cravo Albin which is probably the best online resource for Brazilian music in general.  But this guy Rodrigo’s post is more succinct (it’s too bad he didn’t keep blogging).  Here it goes:

 —————–
Whenever
someone proposes to study the album covers of Brazilian music from the decade
of the 1960s, they prefer to talk about the label Elenco of Aloysio de
Oliveira, and forget about Forma.  Both
record labels played an important part in the modernization of Brazilian music,
and were acquired by Phonogram (later Polygram, today Universal) in the
following decade.

Forma was
created in 1963 by a young carioca named Roberto Quartin (1943-2004) in
parternship with Wadi Gebara.  Until
1969, the label released more than twenty albums, some of which became historic
for the highly experimental level of their production and the attention to
technical detail on the records.  It was
also responsible for debuting albums by great talents in our music, like
Quarteto Em Cy, Eumir Deodato, and Victor Assis Brasil. 

On the 3rd
of February 1965, the newspaper Folha de São Paulo published the following
note:

At the end
of 1964, a new recording company started up in Brazil with the objective to
accelerate the technical advance of Brazilian music that’s been happening in
recent years.  Its name is Forma, its
base is Rio de Janeiro, and its owner is Roberto Quartin.  In the pursuit of the above mission, the
label sought to put together a stable of top artists, to the point that they
adopted the slogan: “The representatives)of Brazilian music are in top Form!”  But these aces could be both established
artists or new faces, people who have never before recorded.  Hence the first releases on Forma are discs that
showcase the already well-known Eumir Deodato and Luís Carlos Vinhas, but also
draw our attention to an excellent new find: 
the Quarteto em Cy.

In the
following decade, Forma continued its activity for a few years under the
administration of Phonogram.  It released
the first recordings of Gonzaguinha and Ivan Lins, products of the university
song festivals at the beginning of the 70s. 
Quartin relocated to the United States and continued his work as one of
the best researchers of the career of Frank Sinatra, even becoming his personal
friend, with authorization to produce albums of unreleased material.

In his last
years of life Quartin was committed, along with Universal, to the reissue and
remastering for CD of Forma’s complete catalog.  
(written by Rodrigo Cunha)

LPs released by Forma

1964 – “Inútil Paisagem”, Eumir Deodato (FM-1)
1964 – “Novas Estruturas”, Luis Carlos Vinhas (FM-2)
1964 – “Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Sérgio Ricardo (FM-3)
1964 – “Quarteto em Cy”, Quarteto em Cy (FM-4)
1964 – “Esse Mundo É Meu – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Sérgio Ricardo e Lindolfo Gaya (FM-5)
1965 – “Bossatrês em Forma!”, Bossa Três (FM-6)
1965 – “Chico Fim-de-Noite Apresenta Chico Feitosa”, Chico Feitosa (FM-7)
1965 – “Coisas”, Moacir Santos (FM-8)
1965 – “Ana Margarida”, Ana Margariba (FM-9)
1966 – “Som Definitivo”, Quarteto em Cy e Tamba Trio (FM-10)
1966 – “Forma ’65”, Diversos (FM-11)
1966 – “Liberdade Liberdade, de Flávio Rangel e Millôr Fernandes”, Nara Leão (FM-12)
1966 – “Dulce”, Dulce Nunes (FM-13)
1966 – “Os Afro-Sambas de Baden e Vinicius”, Baden Powell e Quarteto em Cy (FM-16)
1966 – “Desenhos”, Victor Assis Brasil (FM-17)
1966 – “Tempo Feliz”, Baden Powell e Maurício Einhorn (100VDL)
1966 – “Quinteto Villa-Lobos”, Quinteto Villa-Lobos (101VDL)
1966 – “A Viagem”, Mitchell e Ruff (102VDL)
1966 – “Rosinha de Valença Ao Vivo”, Rosinha de Valença (103VDL)
1966 – “Forma 66”, Diversos (104VDL)
1966 – “Vinicius: Poesia e Canção Vol. I”, Vinicius de Moraes (105VDL)
1966 – “Vinicius: Poesia e Canção Vol. II”, Vinicius de Moraes (106VDL)
1968 – “O Violão É… Tapajós”, Sebastião Tapajós (107VDL)
1968 – “Musicanossa”, Diversos (108VDL)
1968 – “O Conjunto de Roberto Menescal”, Roberto Menescal (VDL109)
1968 – “Samba do Escritor”, Dulce Nunes (VDL110)
1969 – “Brasil Ano 2000 – Trilha Sonora do Filme”, Rogério Duprat (VDL112)
1969 – “O Avarento, de Molière”, Procópio Ferreira (VDL113)
1969 – “Sebastião Tapajós e Sua Guitarra Cósmica”, Sebastião Tapajós (VDL114)
1969 – “Big Parada”, Orquestra Tropical (VDL115)
1970 – “Terço”, O Terço (VDL116)
1970 – “Agora”, Ivan Lins (VDL117)
1971 – “Som Livre Exportação”, Diversos (VDL118)
1971 – “Deixa o Trem Seguir”, Ivan Lins (VDL119)
1971 – “Som Livre Exportação Nº 2”, Diversos (FE1019)
1971 – “Muita Zorra! ou São Coisas que Glorificam a Sensibilidade Atual”, Trio Mocotó (FE1020)

Nara Leão, Edu Lobo, Tamba Trio – 5 Na Bossa (1965)

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5 NA BOSSA
Edu Lobo / Nara Leão / Tamba Trio
1965 Philips 632.769 L
2013 Remaster


1 – Carcará  (José Cândido, João do Vale)   
2 – Reza  (Ruy Guerra, Edu Lobo)   
3 – O trem atrasou  (Paquito, Vilarinho, Estanislau Silva)   
4 – Zambi  (Edu Lobo, Vinicius de Moraes)   
5 – Consolação  (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)   
6 – Aleluia  (Ruy Guerra, Edu Lobo)   
7 – Cicatriz  (Zé Keti, Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)   
8 – Estatuinha  (Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Edu Lobo)   
9 – Minha história  (Raymundo Evangelista, João do Vale)   
10 – O morro não tem vez (Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)   

Recorded live at the Paramount Theater, São Paulo

Remastered by Luigi Hoffer and Carlos Savalla at Digital Mastering Solutions

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Well there isn’t a tremendous amount to say about this brief live record.  Solid performances from everyone involved, although the recording itself is less than prestine and seems to have been made worse by questionable remastering that now makes the album feature clipped samples and very obvious noise reduction artifacts… Why do I keep buying CDs just to hear myself complain when I know they’ll screw them up?  Well this otherwise pretty rare so there’s one reason.

Tamba Trio sounds fantastic, as usual, and the two cuts they have to themselves here are nice and long showcases.  Nara is a bit uneven, unfortunately.  Her imperfect intonation was always part of her charm, but in this live setting – inside a large auditorium-style theater and no stage monitors (being 1965) – her pitch is more off than usual.  In fact “Cicatriz,” a song that goes outside her vocal range to begin with, is a downright painful listen.  She sounds excellent singing with Edu Lobo on Aleluia, though.  Sr. Lobo just celebrated his 70th birthday, so it’s a particularly good time to enjoy this rare live recording of him in his youth.  The liner notes thank Aloysio de Oliveira (the man behind Elenco) for loaning him out for this recording.  He sings one of my favorite compositions of his too, “Reza.”

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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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