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)

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

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

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

PORTELA

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

IMPÉRIO SERRANO

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

SALGUEIRO

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

MANGUEIRA

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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24bitpassword/senha: vibes

Various Artists – Bossa Nova: Sua História, Sua Gente (1975)

Bossa Nova Sua Historia Sua Gente
Philips / Polygram
Original release 1975
CD reissue, unknown date

DISC 1

01 – Sofrer é da Vida – Mario Reis
02 – Você – Dick Farney e Norma Bengel
03 – Nós e o Mar – Doris Monteiro
04 – Só Danço Samba – Donato e Seu Trio
05 – Mocinho Bonito – Billy Blanco
06 – Samba do Avião – Cariocas
07 – Rio – Lucio Alves
08 – As Praias Desertas – Elizete Cardoso
09 – Último Canto – Agostinho dos Santos
10 – Influência do Jazz – Leny Andrade
11 – Minha Saudade – Tamba Trio
12 – Por Toda Minha Vida – Lenita Bruno
13 – Tristeza de Nós Dois – Luiz Eca
14 – Tem Mais Samba – Quarteto em Cy
15 – Boranda – Edu Lobo & Tamba Trio
16 – Berimbau – Baden Powell
17 – The Girl From Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto
18 – Carta ao Tom 74 – Vinícius e Toquinho

DISC 2

01 – Samba da Pergunta – João Gilberto
02 – Samba de Verão – Roberto Menescal e Seu Conjunto
03 – Demais – Maysa
04 – Folha de Papel – Sergio Ricardo
05 – Chora Tua Tristeza – Conj Oscar Castro Neves
06 – Ao Amigo Tom – Claudette Soares
07 – Você e Eu – Sylvia Telles
08 – Coisa Mais Linda – Carlos Lyra
09 – Ela é Carioca – Sergio Mendes e Bossa Trio
10 – Maria Bonita – Nara Leão
11 – Upa Neguinho – Lennie Dale
12 – Que Maravilha – Zimbo Trio
13 – De Palavra em Palavra – Mpb4
14 – Chuva – Os Gatos
15 – Tema do Boneca de Palha – Rosinha de Valença
16 – Olha Maria – Chico Buarque
17 – So Tinha de Ser com Você – Elis & Tom
18 – Ana Luiza – Tom Jobim



There are a lot of bossa nova compilations out there, and a lot of them are pretty shitty.  This one is a good enough listen, though not nearly as
Earth-shaking as some of the reviews I’ve seen on the internet might indicate.   In fact, T. “Strokin”Jurek must have a different record than the one I
have – not only does it not feature any tracks by Jorge Ben as he claims (rather, it has a medley of Ben songs performed by Zimbo Trio, however, which is a big
difference), but it also does NOT contain “credits and complete song details” in any way.  What my copy has is an essay-style account of bossa nova with information on key composers, artists, producers and arrangers.  Not song credits.  Maybe Jurek has a different edition, or maybe he doesn’t read or speak Portuguese?  If so he should probably stop being paid to write reviews of anthological Brazilian releases. What Jurek also seems ignorant of is that astute fans of this music don’t gripe about compilations like this because they are fond of
“nit picking.” Usually they are motivated for a love of music that exceeds the profit motive of the companies that put it out.  A case in point can usually be found in any compilation claiming to represent an entire musical movement, such as this one.  Even in the 1960s, the Brazilian recording industry was consolidated in very few hands, with each label being pretty equally possessive of its own artists and covetous of its neighbors.  As you will see, that has resulted in some misleading attempts to anthologize.

This collection was originally released as a triple-LP box with an oversized booklet.  I had both the vinyl and CD and for once we are at least lucky to have a CD booklet that replicates
the info in the original vinyl down to the letter.  Unfortunately that info is still kind of vague on the sort of info fans want, such as the provenance of the tracks – the dates, the records they came from, who may have played on them – in fact just the sort of info that Jurek claims comes with this set but does not.   It’s my feeling this is a pretty deliberate choice.  Philips didn’t even
exist as a discrete record label during the heydey of bossa nova, but rather took over what had been CBD (Companhia Brasileira dos Discos) and eventually acquired the Elenco label and their catalog in the early 70s.  So this compilation is missing all kinds of crucial stuff released by the EMI-Odeon and RGE labels, for example.  To make things more confusing, some of the artists associated with those labels appear here on selections recorded after they had signed contracts with Philips (João Gilberto, Chico Buarque, Zimbo Trio).  They are great songs, but these artists’ canonical contributions to bossa nova are found on their first few records, and not the ones recorded for Phillips.

What this compilation does do really well is fill in gaps in the fan’s knowledge of artists either within bossa nova or who were seminal and influential on its formation (even if some of them – like Dick Farney – are once again featured in post-1970 contexts).  A lot of material, however, isn’t actually bossa nova but samba canção, a genre that provided a lot of the roots, repertoire, and inspiration for bossa nova but which is distinct enough that its progenitors were initially scandalized by the deviations in rhythms and intervals that the kids brought to the block.  Although it’s not clear how much is intentional and how much is a product of the contractual shenanigans on who has rights to what songs, this record ends up being a cool compilation that manages to
avoid repeating the cliched representations of bossa nova (with the exception fo Girl From Ipanema), even at the expense of omitting most of its key compositions and recordings.
Extra points for including tracks from Os Cariocas, Carlos Lyra, Agostinho dos Santos, US expatriat Lennie Dale, Silvia Telles, and Billy Blanco.

 

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Xangô da Mangueira – Rei do Partido Alto (1972)

 Xangô da Mangueira
O Rei do Partido Alto
Released 1972 on Copacabana (CLP 11701)
Reissue 2011 Discos Cobacabana-EMI

1. Moro na Roça
2. Quando vim de Minas
3. Se o Pagode é Partido
4. Cheguei no Samba
5.Que Samba é Esse
6. Se Tudo Correr Bem
7. Pequenininho
8. Recordação de um Batuqueiro
9. Quem não te Conhece é que te Compra (Tiro no Escuro)
10. Arigó
11. Diretor de Harmonia
12. Olha o partido

Que samba esse que acabou de chegar?
É partido-alto, mas é pra quem sabe improvisar

A great record by one of the under-heralded sambistas, Xangô da Mangueira aka Olivéirio Ferreira.  Every track is a winner, and this has been one of the most-played samba records in my stash since I got it, often getting played twice in a row which is something I NEVER do.   A friend of Paulo da Portela, he passed through the samba schools of Portela, Lira do Amor (now defunct) and Mangueira.  This record has probably the biggest concentration of Xangô’s better-known compositions that he recorded in one place.  Well-known because they have been recorded by the likes of Clara Nunes, Martinho da Vila, Elza Soares, Beth Carvalho, Roberto Ribeiro and others since the 1970s heyday of “samba de raiz.”  The record lopes along in an old-school pagode, roda de samba vibe and is one of the best partido-alto records you’re likely to hear.

 

Xangô cultivated a style that was, in his own words, “bem
sacudido, bem jongo,” that is to say laying down a good solid groove: animated, danceable, strongly rooted in the batucada.  The first voice you hear on the record doesn’t actually belong to him, but to Jorge Zagaia, his singing partner on  three of the partido alto tunes here:  Mora Na Roça, Pequenininho, and Diretor de Harmonio, which Zagaia also wrote in homage of his friend.  Scholars and even sambistas don’t have a clear-cut definition of the subgenre in any way that can be condensed into a paragraph, but all agree that it has a long pedigree, going back to the Bantu-language presence in Brazil and the sambas de umbigada, jongo, and the lundu, existing in some form or another as a distinguishable dance and music when samba first urbanized in the early twentieth century.  The name itself connotes an “elite” of samba, something you have to be damn good to even attempt, so you had best be prepared before you enter into the roda de samba.  It’s key distinctive traits were improvised verses with a repeated group chorus or refrain, a refrãozinho really, sung in direct response and typically changing to accommodate the theme elaborated by the lead singer.  Sometimes you  have more than one singer taking the lead, which along with the element of improvisation places partido-alto in a continuum with northeastern traditions like the repentistas or emboladores. There were set compositions in the style in the 1930s from the likes of Noel Rosa, Donga and Pixinguinha.  According to some of its best practitioners, partido-alto had changed considerably by the 1970s, with Aniceto of Império Serrano saying “what we’re all singing today is a lesser thing (samba menor) and we are just calling it partido alto.”  His traditionalism was probably a bit overstated for effect – on the best of the 1970s examples, you can still get the sense of spontaneity and call-and-response.  But there is no doubt that the limitations of the record business, and even the medium of electronic sound reproduction itself, give us only a small taste of what went on in those old rodas de samba.  To paraphrase Aniceto again: partido-alto had a set time to start, but no set time to end.  It could go on and on without a break until eventually the energy runs out.. Then someone will start it up again with a different melody and theme.  You get a good sense of this watching the tragically brief Hirzman documentary “Partido Alto”, which has finally received a restoration (so I can finally ditch my copy transferred from an old VHS tape).   In fact listening to Candeia hold court in the first part of that short film is probably the best class on partido-alto you could wish for, notwithstanding his cara brabo.  Interested people would also do well to listen Candeia’s albums that have a couple extended cuts of partido-alto, and perhaps most especially the first record made by the group Partido em 5 (which also featured Candeia).A good number of the tunes on Rei do Partido-Alto all begin with a similar cavaquinho riff, and it doesn’t take much imagination to hear how, with a little variation in rhythm, most of these songs could have been strung together and most likely were at one point.  But while there may be some artifice in squeezing that experience into a three-minute composition, you won’t hear any complaints from me about gems like “Diretor de Harmonia.”  Xangô was in fact the director of harmony for the Mangueira samba school, a role of no small consequence:  the first office-holder of Diretor de Harmonia was none other than Cartola.

             Although written by Zagaia it works as autobiography and a bit of braggadocio (Eu sou o samba em pessoa) .  Other songs here take the same approach, with concise declarative lines placing the singer inside the universe of samba:  “Já cantei muito samba / Já foi batuqueiro / E na roda de samba / Foi diretor de pandeiro” (in Recordação de Batuqeiro).  There are so many great verses scattered around the album that evoke a lifetime seduced by samba, its physicality while lived out daily at every opportunity:  “Se o pagode é partido/ Ela conta comigo/ Eu vou lá/ Eu vou em casa buscarmeu pandeiro/ Eu sou partideiro/ Não posso faltar.”  And later,  “Senhora dona da casa / me dê licença pra entrar / Fui em casa buscar meu pandeiro

/ Sou partideiro / não posso faltar.”  Remembering hanging out with Donga and João da Baiana.  Or going out for a night of samba with a girl on your arm and a desire to “show these guys what I’m made of”Sem meu tamborim não fico
Sem minha cabrocha não vou
Quero mostrar a esses caras
Quero mostrar quem eu sou

(from Cheguei no samba)

This is the convivência of samba that Xangô da Mangueira so capably communicates; the sort of false-cognate in English “conviviality” doesn’t really get to it, because its not just about a festive atmosphere but about the intimacy of social relations and familiarity of people, many of whom earn their livelihood at jobs they don’t care much to talk about, because what they really for is this, the nightlife of music and poetry and friendship that characterized these scenes.   Xangô was a retired security guard by this point; Candeia had been a policeman, a job which left him in a wheelchair for life; Nelson Cavaquinho had been in the Policia Militar, apparently not a very good policeman either, prone to losing himself in local bars during his shifts and losing track of the battalion’s horses.  When you hear sambistas recount their lives, they may tell stories about the different jobs they’ve held but you rarely get the sense that they identified with them much – their identity was constituted in the botequim and the roda-de-samba, in the hours of leisure when their creative energy was allowed free play.

Probably the biggest ‘hit’ here is “Quando Vim de Minas,” which became immortalized by Clara Nunes.  Xangô was a native carioca but Clara was, of course, from Minas Gerais so the song is almost an anthem for her.  An unforgettable melody and refrain, and lyrics that  invoke images of the slaves put to work in diamond and gold mines who smuggled out gold dust under their fingernails or in religious statues.  It’s the kind of ambiguity that give samba and other kinds of popular music an edge of critique and subversion.

Xangô da Mangueira returned to performing and recording for a while before he passed away a few years ago at the age of 85.  He recorded a CD that was sold through a website set up by someone in his circle, maybe his family.  And we are lucky enough to have a ‘depoimento’ in the form of an interview-performance (ala MPB Especial format) that was filmed at the Múseo do Estado in the neighborhood of Catete, Rio.  This is a cool place, by the way, if you ever have the chance to visit it; It also has a movie theater showing Brazilian and international independent films.  (One of the things I really like about Rio is the number of independent movie theatres, all of them located conveniently close to Metro stations.  Something a lot of cities in Brazil sorely lack — Recife, hello?)  I’ve linked to the hour-long film HERE.  It’s not exactly riveting stuff but worth a look if you are enjoying this record.  Xangô’s voice is considerably more rouca or hoarse, and he has to teach his backing musicians a few numbers on the spot.   He tells some good stories, about how he gained his nickname, dispelling the appearance of him being some formidable pai-de-santo by relating how he received the name while working in a textile factory and there was a day when a guy was just giving out nicknames to anyone who didn’t have them.  He talks about his first tentative experiences singing samba on the last train leaving the downtown area, where all the sambistas typically met up to commute back to their homes in the periphery or in the morros, when each person would take turns singing.  He talks about sambas roots in improvisation, and in marginality; of working and socializing around Rua de Santana and Praça Onze.   And of advice he got when he first assumed an official position in a samba school:  “There are two things about samba: education and humility,” a value placed on knowing your art form, of a kind of sophisticated worldliness, coupled with the respect for the different roles in a samba school and the people who fill them, the pastores and the musicians, without which carnival would be impossible.  Well it seems Mr. Ferreira had plenty of these things.  He also recalls that when he went to meet the directorate of Mangueira the
first time, they gave him a “test” in improvising, to show if he was up
to their standards.  He then assumed the job of Diretor de Harmonia and
later on became one of their “intérpretes” or lead singers.

I hope you enjoy this addictive record.  I think I listened to it at least four times just while writing this blog post.

in 320 kbs

MIRROR 1 //  MIRROR 2 ///

 

FLAC

Silvio Caldas – Madrugada, 1935 – 1938 (1968 LP)

Silvio Caldas
MADRUGADA
LP released 1968 on Imperial (IMP 30107)
Recordings, 1935-38

A1         Chão De Estrelas     (1937)
A2         Arrependimento         (1935)
A3         Arranha-Céu         (1937)
A4         Inquietação         (1935)
A5         Madrugada         (1936)
A6         Minha Palhoça         (1935)
B1         Quase Que Eu Disse     (1935)
B2         Pastorinhas         (1937)
B3         Confessando Que Te Adoro (1937)
B4         Professora         (1938)
B5         Choro Por Teu Amor     (1937)
B6         Nunca Mais         (1936)

This post is dedicated to minha sereia no outro lado do mar, Marta.  Veja que tô em baixo tua janela.

Needledrop info: 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 light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – resampled (and dithered for 16-bit) using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag&Rename.

I have a recurring dream where I am walking the streets of Santa Teresa alone at night.  It’s late and there’s nobody really around, just a few stray couples in the scattered restaurants and cafes. Sometimes I am following the old trolley rails, the bondê that still runs there, and sometimes just walking freely, but always climbing and descending, climbing and descending the old hills of that neighborhood.  I drink deeply of the bucolic air, a few degrees cooler and more refreshing here than elsewhere in the city, and as I turn a corner I hear a faint trace of a song.  In those hills on an otherwise silent evening it is difficult to gauge the providence of such sounds, how near or how far their source, and this  uncertainty is only amplified in dreams. But the wind carries the notes of a flute from some stray window, balanced above a slowly strummed guitar  and a muted cavaquinho.  The road twists around further and I am greeted by one of Santa Teresa’s breathtaking views, an ocean of city lights undulating below me, crowned with wisps of cloud blown in off the sea and backlit by moonlight.  An then, overpowering all of it, soars the voice of Silvio Caldas, that vozeirão, and the words of Orestes Barbosa like a broom sweeping me away on their Chaõ de Estrelas.

This LP is a late-60s compilation of classic recordings originally on 78 rpm discs.  As was typical for the Imperial label, the jacket contains no useful information whatsoever, but I’ve cobbled together the most likely recording dates of the songs by consulting the Dicionário Cravo Albin da MPB.  Caldas recorded many of these songs multiple times but these all seem to be the original versions, with quite a few of them being the A and B sides of the same 78.

Silvio Caldas is most usually thought of as the godfather of seresta or serenata, a genre of music whose Iberian name is a linguistic cousin of the English “serenade.”  Seresta is indeed music meant to be played late at night beneath the window of would-be lover, sung with voices pregnant with unironic romanticism and copious amounts of vibrato.  As a genre it is also related to the modinhas, lundus, and choros that also play a part in the origins of samba, and all of which are felt in the repertoires of the other big stars of Brazil’s “Golden Era” like Francisco Alves and Orlando Silva.   But although he is immortalized as “O Serresteiro” (incidentally, the name of an LP on the Recife-based Mocombo label that I stupidly passed up buying once…), Silvio was also an ace at singing sambas and marchinhas.  This brief little LP collection represents those styles well here too.  The immortal sambista Noel Rosa contributed the upbeat Pastorinhas, and Ary Barroso wrote the philosophical paean to romantic suffering and equanimity, Inqueitação.  The lyrics to Inquietação are brilliant, but it’s the partnership between Caldas and Orestes Barbosa for which most people remember Silvio the Seresteiro.  Orestes Barbosa was an established poet, writer of crônicas, and critic back in the days when those roles didn’t exclude active participation in popular music.  He wrote a an enormous amount of song lyrics, collaborating with the likes of Noel Rosa, Francisco Alves, Hervé Cordovil, and others.  But it is the stunning Chão de Estrelas with Silvio Caldas that most people associate with his name today, and at the time it even drew compliments from modernist poet Manuel Bandeira.   The song has been rerecorded countless times from artists as diverse as Maysa to Os Mutantes.  It has that rare perfect fusion of melody and words that is instantly recognizable in anyone’s interpretation.  It’s worth noting that the lyrics are truly written as poem, without a single line or stanza repeated throughout.   Unfortunately the only other collaborations from the pair featured on this collection are “Arranha-céu” and “Quase que eu disse.”

The production on these old records from the 30s was incredible as well.  In an interview at SESC during the 1990s, Silvio went on a bit about the luxuries afforded to artists in modern recording studios, and how back in his day they had none of that.  It was a bunch of people crammed into a tiny little room and arranged around a single microphone.  Then it is all the more impressive that the results usually had such a great balance of instruments and voice.  The version of Chão de Estrelas here not only sounds great but has an especially effective execution, with all the instruments taking their lead from Silvio’s vocal and guitar, at times dragging the beat and giving the arrangement an unhurried feel that I haven’t heard on any subsequent recordings (including Silvio’s) that tend to play it with straight meter.   Some of the tunes here have piano as well.  Sometimes it sounds like they had to put the piano in the hallways outside the sound booth, which may well have been the case! On other tunes like Arranha-céu the piano is up front in the mix.  Another arrangement I love comes early in the collection: Arrependimento (Silvio Caldas – Cristovão de Alencar), which is driven along by pandeiro, the only percussion instrument to feature on most of these recordings.  The aural gooseflesh moment comes about halfway through, when Silvio sings “ai, meu deus” before a slight pause in the music after which the full band comes back in with exquisite vocal harmonies to sing the next verse.  These ‘época de ouro’ songs were almost didactic lessons in musical and poetic economy, little essays packed into three minutes or less.

This needledrop was done close to a year ago when my setup was different, and as tempting as it was to start all over with my improved system, I just don’t have time.  Although my current soundcard has a lower noise floor and the capacity for a higher sampling rate, the nature of the source material is such that I think it would be a case of diminishing returns — this is, after all, an LP that used 78s as their source material and is quite noisy to begin with.

 

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