Cadê Luiz Gonzaga?? anyone?

Oi galera
A post of Luiz Gonzaga – A Triste Partida, has mysteriously disappeared from the blog. Not sure how this happened — technical glitch, a spasm of surly behavior (I am prone to them), or just clicking on the wrong button. Doesn’t really matter. But what stinks is that I wrote a rather long review of the record, particularly about the first track, that I appear to have saved nowhere at all but this blog. That’ll learn me. Well you never know what people out there on the internets are up to, and perhaps one of you saves those type of things into a text file or something — in this case, *please* pass it along to me as I would love to restore the post but have no time or inclination at the moment to rewrite my manifesto on the music and culture of post-war Northeast Brazil, or whatever it was.

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  1. would it happen to be this one?

    Luiz Gonzaga, the King of Baião, the Godfather of Forró. It occured to me with some surprised that there was no forró on this blog. I am talking about forró pé de serra , not the new stuff you here plasting out of car trunks at any weekend gathering of young folks in the Northeast these days, of "electric forró". The difference is immense. A crude cross-cultural analogy might be — think of the gap between the heights of artistry achieved by Hank Williams Sr., Lefty Frizzel, or Patsy Cline, and then think of… Garth Brooks? Shania Twain? Actually I know there are even worse artists than these on the country charts these days, I just can't be bothered to remember any of their names.
    But I digress. This is about Luiz Gonzaga, King of Baião, who popularized forró to a wider Brazilian audience apart from the Nordeste, where (depending on which legend or mythification your chose) it developed during the weekend parties of peasants and workers around the American army base established during WWII in Natal, or around the railroad being built by (American-owned) Great Western in Pernambuco at the turn of the century. I've heard both stories — one could probably carry out a study on the cultural and political allegiances and divisions of their proponents, but… I'm not terribly interested in that. It is great music. The origins of the word itself are disputed and linked to the various origin myths, but it seems to have actually referred to the styles of dance and the parties where they where they were practiced before it became to refer to a genre of music. Which is self explanatory, as this is dance music first and foremost. Pé de Serrra is typically played by a trio consisting of accordian as the lead instrument, with rhythm from a triangle player (a vastly underrated instrument!) and large drum called the zambuba. On Gonzaga's records you are also likely to hear guitar and cavaquinho, instruments associated more with samba.

    But the classic stuff, practiced by the "masters of the genre" (!!!) , is like all good dance music, just as interesting from the chair of the reflective music afficionado as they are from the dance floor. Superb musicianship, tight arrangements, and clever lyrics when you are quick enough to catch them. This particular Luiz Gonzaga record opens with something that suprised the hell out of me — a 9-minute song in a genre that usually barely scrapes the 3-minute mark. What was this auditory anomoly I was hearing? Something like Gonzaga's "Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands", perhaps. The song is a toada, a waltz-like ballad with a seemingly endless string of verses and no real chorus except a refrain of "meu deus, meu deus" (my god, my god). It's a story-song, one that typifies the experience of a great number of Nordestinos in Brazil from the 1950s until the present day. It is a story as iconic as the wood-carvings found on the pamphlet street literature, the cordel, hung from clothespins in the merchants' stalls of any Northeastern market square. The story of a poor peasant of Brazil's interior pushed to the brink of existence by one of the devasting droughts that periodically visit the region like a scourge, impoverishing a land and people that were already hard-suffering enough. The image is one of the retirante, who together with the cangaceiro bandit and the itinerant holy man of the backlands compose the archtypes of the Nordeste. The man sells his mule, all his belongings, and packs off to the industrial hub of the country, São Paulo, in search of a better life. Only to encounter there a different kind of drought, one made of insecure jobs and unemployment, of the harsh discrimination meted out to Northeastern migrants, of hunger in the midst of affluence, and of nostalgia for one's homeland. The Nordestino migrant is a virtual refugee in his own country. Today you can hear it spoken as both a joke and a grim sociological observation (depending on your interlocutor) that everyone who works in the service industry in São Paulo, that every doorman and janitor and housecleaner, is a migrant from the Nordeste. You can find enclaves of Nordestinos in that city and in Rio de Janeiro where you would hard pressed not to think you were in Paraíba or Pernambuco . The music, the food, the accents and slang, are woven all around you to recreate the bittersweetness of a harsh land from which a person has fled, but to which they constantly long to return, nursing a dream of getting a plot of land with the money they have earned and providing for the family that they may have left behind.
    The rest of the record is more upbeat, with the wonderfully catchy tunes you come to know and love from Gonzaga over time. They are worthy of their own descriptions too, but after this monster of a opener, I find myself a bit speechless.
    VINYL RIP from a 1970 dyna-flex pressing on RCA. Numark PT-1 -> Marantz PMD 661 recorded at 24bit-96khz sampling -> DC Offset in Audobe Audition 3.0 -> Click Repair at light settings -> Normalized and track splits using Audition -> Dithered and resampled to 16/44.1 using iZotope M-Bit -> Encoded to mp3 at 320kbs with DbPoweramp
    No information on the musicians or sessions. I have yet to come across a comprehensive Luiz Gonzaga discography, which seems odd given his importance to Brazilian popular music. Perhaps I need to look outside the interwebs and hit the academic research libraries on this one.

    1 A triste partida
    (Patativa do Assaré)

    2 Toque de rancho
    (J.Ferreira – Luiz Gonzaga)

    3 Cacimba nova
    (José Marcolino – Luiz Gonzaga)

    4 Marimbondo
    (José Marcolino – Luiz Gonzaga)

    5 Ave Maria Sertaneja
    (Júlio Ricardo – O. de Oliveira)

    6 Numa sala de reboco
    (José Marcolino – Luiz Gonzaga)

    7 Viva o Arigó
    (Geraldo Nunes)

    8 Cantiga do vem-vem
    (José Marcolino)

    9 Cocotá
    (Luiz Guimarães – Helena Gonzaga)

    10 Forró de Zé do Baile
    (Severino Ramos)

    11 Lembrança da primavera

  2. HOLY CRAP!!!! HOW DID YOU FIND THIS!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Seriously man, I was despairing of ever getting that back and would not have tried rewriting it. I have learned my lesson and am now saving text files of these things… really though, how did you retrieve this??

    um abraço, tripmaster!!!

  3. hehe…i just discovered your blog the other day, so i have it subscribed thru google reader. for some reason it shows up in google reader as being posted on feb 7th, and it also shows that it was posted twice on that day. i’m not sure why, but i noticed that google reader sometimes shows posts that have yet to be published, or in this case, posts that have been deleted… which i would imagine could be quite disturbing for the serious blogger…but i also noticed that i’m able to access certain Opera blogs that have been banned and removed. in any case, i’m glad i was able to help! your blog is amazing, too by the way. thanks for all the quality shares!

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