Tom Zé – Estudando o Samba / Correio na Estação Brás (1975, 1978)

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TOM ZÉ

ESTUDANDO O SAMBA
1976 Continental (1.07.405.303)

1 Mã (Tom Zé)
2 A felicidade (Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)
3 Toc (Tom Zé)
4 Tô (Élton Medeiros, Tom Zé)
5 Vai [Menina amanhã de manhã] (Perna, Tom Zé)
6 Ui! [Você inventa] (Odair, Tom Zé)
7 Doi (Tom Zé)
8 Mãe [Mãe solteira] (Élton Medeiros, Tom Zé)
9 Hein? (Tom Zé, Vicente Barreto)
10 Só [Solidão] (Tom Zé)
11 Se (Tom Zé)
12 Índice (José Briamonte, Heraldo do Monte, Tom Zé)

Arrangements by José Briamonte
Produced by Heraldo do Monte

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CORREIO DA ESTAÇÃO DO BRÁS
Tom Zé (1978)
1978
Continental
1.01.404.177

1 Menina Jesus (Tom Zé)
2 Morena (Tom Zé e Domínio Público)
3 Correio da Estação do Brás (Tom Zé)
4 Carta (Tom Zé)
5 Pecado original (Tom Zé)
6 Lavagem da igreja de Irará (Tom Zé)
7 Pecado, rifa e revista (Tom Zé)
8 A volta de Xanduzinha [Maria Mariô ](Tom Zé)
9 Amor de estrada (Washington Olivetto, Tom Zé)
10 Lá vem cuíca (Tom Zé, Vicente Barreto)
11 Na parada de sucesso (Tom Zé, Vicente Barreto)

Arrangements by Otavio Basso

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Reissued 2000 on Warner/Continental – Série Dois Momentos – Vol.15 (857384832-2)
Remixed by Roberto Marquest & Charles Gavin
Mastereed by Ricardo Garcia & Charles Gavin
Supervised by Tom Zé

This is the second volume that Continental dedicated to Tom Zé (Vol.14 is on its way!). According to legend, Estudanto o Samba was the album that introduced David Byrne to the music of Tom Zé, and it was understandably like nothing he had ever heard. It’s not just that Tom desconstructs the traditions of samba composition and playing — he actually does, in fact, put it together in a cohesive way in the universe according to Tom Zé. The album was undertaken in the spirit of a project of research. Based mostly in acoustic instrumentation, but occasionally incorporating found sounds from detuned radios or televisions or even the clacking of a typewriter. His unorthodoxy manages to be reverent at the same time, and if you need any proof you can look at the compositions he co-wrote with “respectable sambista” Elton Medeiros on this record, or the respectful liner notes written by Medeiros on the inner sleeve. As he relates, Tom Zé emerged from the University of Bahia’s conservatory of music, and in spite of critical praise upon critical praise, still hadn’t received the type of recognition he deserved (never ‘winning’ at any of the many festivals of song, for example). And although Medeiros doesn’t mention it here, the sales for his brilliant Todos Os Olhos, widely considered a masterpiece, were disappointing. “For this, without losing any time, he decided to create this album, where he looked to reunite the variety of rural and urban types and forms of samba, giving each song the presentation he found most adequate,” writes Medeiros. Elton also says that Zé had told him that if THIS album doesn’t “circulate”, this will probably end the “research side” of his career. And in a way his prediction was true. Although he never stopped experimenting, he never really attempted another project quite like this until the more recent ‘Estudando o Pagode’, with this album as an explicit reference.

Zé’s interpretation of the Jobim/Vinicius classic “A felicidade” is also one of my favorites out there.

Unlike his contemporaries in Tropicália, Tom only put out records every few years. I like to say that this is what makes his body of work devoid of the embarrassing discographical titles found in the catalog of a Caetano Veloso or Gilberto Gil. He has never released a bad album, and even his luke-warm ones are well worth your time.

CORREIO DA ESTAÇÃO DO BRÁS is not “luke-warm” by any stretch, but it has been somewhat ignored by those of us reappraising the career of this maverick genius (either because we missed it the first time, like most of the public, or — as in my case — we weren’t even born yet when he was tossing some of these early gemstones into the either). Although the album is of very high quality and consistently, it is overshadowed by the powerful bursts of creativity that went into his previous two albums, and so in a way it is understandable that it’s been overlooked. If you are looking to “turn someone on” to Tom Zé, this won’t be the album you will reach for first. But it’s filled with compelling music. It opens with the heavy social critique of ‘Menino Jesus’ that portrays a Northeastern migrant leaving his rural life for the big-city life in the south with its dreams and obsessions of consumerism, of battery-powered radios, of TVs, and wristwatches… The lyrics, composition, arrangements are all first rate on this record. The production is a bit slicker and professional than his other work from the 70s but nowhere near approaching the sterility that was beginning to afflict so much MPB of the time. More highlights are his reinterpretation of a traditional tune, “Morena,” “Pecado original” probably the most experimental cut on here, “Pecado, revista, e rife”, and “A Volta de Xanduzinha”, and “Lá vem cuica.” There is even something approaching a ‘brega’ on “Amor de estrada.” We are treated with a surprisingly tuneful Tom Zé throughout this album, on what might be loosely-called a concept record about a neighborhood in São Paulo comprised of primarily Northeastern immigrants, which in the liner notes he says on market days takes on the semblance of any small town in the northeast interior. It’s a record I would almost describe as “sweet”, and it would be another six years before Zé would make another album.

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