Carlos Lyra – Saravá (1970)


Originally released on RCA, S.A. de C.V. (Mexico) MKL/S-1839, in 1970

1 Vacilada (Carlos Lyra)

2 ¿Quien te manda? (Carlos Lyra – Vinicius de Moraes)

3 Para no decir adios (Walmir Ayala – Carlos Lyra)

4 Solo tu no vienes (Carlos Fernando Fortes – Carlos Lyra)

5 Balanceo (Carlos Lyra)

6 Tristeza (Haroldo Lobo)

7 El jacal (Gianfrancesco Guarnieri – Carlos Lyra)

8 Paz sin amor (Nelson Lins e Barros – Carlos Lyra)

9 Viene del amor (Nelson Lins e Barros – Carlos Lyra)

10 Lugar comum (Francisco de Assis – Carlos Lyra)

11 Samba de la bendicion (Saravá) (Baden Powell – Vinicius de Moraes)

From the back cover

Recorded in Mexico in 1970 and released only now for the first time in Brazil, “Saravá” includes some of the most beautiful songs of Carlos Lyra, like “Também Quem Mandou”, “Feio Não É Bonito” and “O Bem do Amor,” together with the swing-influenced “Até Parece” and “Sambalanço”. Alongside these are inspired recreations of “Tristeza,” the Haroldo Lobo and Niltinho classic, and of “Samba de Benção,” from Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes, in a Castillian version prepared by Lyra himself.

Produced by Rubén Fuentes
Released originally in 1970
Reissue produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro (Jazz Station Productions)

Musical director: Magallanes
Production assistant: Enrique Okamura
Sound Engineer: Carlos Castillo
Photo: L.Isaac
Remastered by Carlos Freitas and Jade Pereira, Classic Master SP, using Sonic Solutions, No Noise, Cedar and Manley equipment

Front cover photo taken from a vinyl copy kindly lent by Carlos Lyra!!


The liner notes tell of a Mexico City that had blossomed into the unofficial “capitol of Brasil” by way of the number of musicians living and working there. Names like Luiz Eça (leading a band calling A Sagrada Família that included Joyce, Nelson Angelos, Novelli, Vitor Manga, Rose and more), O Tamba 4, Luiz Carlos Vinhas and Bossa 3, Leny Andrade, Pery Ribeiro, Osmar Milito, Breno Sauer, Ely Arcoverde and the groups “Alegria Alegria” and Brasília 71.” Add to this list famous bands like Vox Populi and Anjos do Inferno that passed time there, and João Gilberto who came to spend a ten days in 1969 with Chico Batera and his wife Miúcha, and ended up staying two years, and you get the idea of how active the scene was. 1969 even saw the First Festival of Brasilian and American Music with participants like Milton Nascimento, Eumir Deodato, Airto Moreira and Bola Sete.

“In Mexico, the people were crazy for bossa nova, which had already gone out of fashion in Brazil,” tells lengendary bassist Manuel Gusmão, contributor to records by Jorge Ben, Flora Purim, and Dom Um Romão. “The market for work in Rio and São Paulo was horrible, as much in terms of recording sessions as in shows. To make things worse, the festivals were on the decline, with bossa substituted by the Jovem Guarda and by Tropicalismo on the new TV programs. There was the terror of AI-5 (see note), and many people wanted to get out of Brazil for a variety of reasons. So when we discovered the interest of the entrepreneurs and businessment and the Mexican public for our sound, there was a huge migration of artists,” explains Gusmão, who lived for four years in Mexico, playing with local musicians and leading his own trio, with Edison Machado on drums and Moacir Peixoto on piano.”

The ’empresários’ (which I’ve translated as businessmen and entrepreneurs) were the owners of the many lush hotels that were featuring bossa nova and Brazilian artists. Into this stew enters Carlos Eduardo Lyra Barbosa, one of the original luminaries of bossa nova, who had toured Mexico with Stan Getz previously. Upon taking up residence in Mexico, Lyra found plenty of work — writing jingles for TV commercials, working as an announcer and translator during the 1968 Olympics, writing soundtracks for close to ten short films, and working various theatrical productions. He even met his future wife there, the North American singer Katherine “Kate” Lyra (…notes don’t give her maiden name..)

Carols Lyra was invited by RCA Mexico to record this album. He wrote nine of its eleven compositions, and was accompanied exclusively by Mexican musicians. You might notice some confusion on the back cover regarding the fact that the songs were given different titles in Spanish than their original names in Portuguese. For example “Sambalanço” becomes “Balanceo” (not too hard to figure out) and “Feio Não É Bonito,” recorded on Nara Leão’s first album in 1963, becomes “El Jacal”, which is very hard to figure out by titles alone…

This is a remarkably sweet and mellow album, a rewarding listen from the first moment to the last. The playing is great, the empathy for bossa nova from the Mexican musicians would convince any listener they are Brazilian, and the songs are wonderful. The harpsichord and scat singing that open up the first track Vacilada grab your attention immediately, as does the funky vibrato-laden organ. My favorite track from the whole album comes early with “Quem Té Manda?” The melody is unforgettable, and orchestrations deepen the richness, the epitomy of love-as-escapism that in a big way characterized bossa nova. It was this escapism that drew criticisms from Brazilian musicians during the mid-70s in the wake of the right-wing dictatorship: bossa nova began to be called “alienated” and “false consciousness,” as many artists began to move away from the romanticism of bossa and into more political and socially-engaged material. This is completely understandable given the political persecution and stripping of political and civil rights, the exiles, the disappearances and imprisonments. But in thinking about the paradise-in-exile created by the bossa nova musicians flocking to Mexico City, perhaps it pays to recall the words of Mr. Ché Guevara who said, “At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love.”

(Translator’s note: Institutional Act 5 of late 1968, which severely heightened the level of repression and violence of the military dictatorship that had begun with the coup of 1964)”

Lyra would later briefly return to doing some work in advertising, writing jingles and licensing the cover photo of this album for a product endorsement.


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  1. This post is AMAZING!
    Thank you so much!

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