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

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

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

Ataulfo Alves 1993 Revivendo (RVCD 086)

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

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

Produced by Leon Barg
Engineering – Ayrton Pisco

Recordings originally made for the following labels: Odeon, RCA Victor, Columbia, Star, and Sínter

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

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

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

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


password: vibes

Reposts – Oct 30, 2013

 photo reupsoct2013sm_zps49f5d38a.png

Leny Andrade – Estamos Aí (1965)
Baden Powell with Jimmy Pratt (1953)
Silvio Caldas – Madrugada (1935-1938)
Taiguara – Fotografias (1973)
Poly e Seu Conjunto – Saia Vermelha (1963)
Os Cobras – O Lp (1964)

As I rush to make some deadlines IRL, I have been neglecting this blog a bit, but as a kind of comprise I’ve been going back and trying to fix some of the dead links, including a few that have had a lot of unattended requests.  I promise to bring some new content here very soon, including another Flabbergasted Freeform podcast.

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

Silvio Caldas
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.