“A música brasileira deste século por seus autores e intérpretes”
SESC São Paulo / JCB Produções Artisticas
Recorded for the Programa MPB Especial on February 8, 1974, directed by Fernando Faro
Dominguinhos – sanfona de oito baixos
José Braz dos Santos – zabumba
Domingos P. Neres – triângulo
Some years ago the SESC organization of São Paulo released a number of boxsets of interviews and music with musicians and composers. This disc is from the second boxset (the discs themselves are not numbered or in any way chronological). Only a fraction of the stuff filmed for this series has found its way onto DVD, such as Nara Leão, Cartola (very recently), or Elis Regina. If you’ve seen those then you know the format — a little bit of playing, a little bit of talking, some more playing, very relaxed. In fact one curious production technique is that you never (or at least I haven’t yet) hear the actual questions being posed to the artists. This used to really annoy me. Now I see it as some of form of editorial self-erasure, an attempt to efface the interviewer’s subjective presence and keep the focus on the artists. In that sense the technique is mildly admirable. But there are still times when I knew what the hell they had been asking about..
But in this case, Dominguinhos, who is as relaxed and good-natured in an interview as you might expect from his music, tells us a little about growing up in Garanhuns, Pernambuco, his father being a small farmer (pequeno agricultor, not “small” like Azulão) who also worked as a tuner of sanfonas de 8 baixos (eight-button accordions) and playing in the feiras where so much business gets conducted in the interior. He tells of meeting as a young boy with the master Luiz Gonazaga, who would become his mentor and protector throughout this life.
We then get something of a musical travelogue of his life, with him playing some of the different types of music he played to get by when living in Rio – samba, música romantica, boleros, show tunes. Songs by Tom Jobim, Johnny Alf, Jack Lawrence. We even get a short snipped of chansón with “La vie em Rose” immortalized by Edith Piaf. It’s not as if Domiguinhos is alone in knowing this repertoire as it was more or less required of working musicians, but as he demonstrates in this casual setting it is not hard to imagine that his emotive capacity to connect with whatever material he plays is at least part of how he grew to be such a sought-after session player, apart from his association with Gonzagão. This TV program was filmed as Dominguinhos was ‘hot stuff’ with the post-tropicalia scene, having both recorded on my ex-girlfriend’s album “India” (1973) and also touring in her live presentation of it. I may be partial because I am still in love with Gal Costa after all these years in spite of her breaking my heart, but I really think the India tour performance should see a legit DVD release (there is a bootleg pimping itself out over at YouTube…), because I would rather go blind from stroking myself than from squinting my eyes at a blurry image *while* stroking myself, damnit. Anyway, if the only thing Dominguinhos ever did in his entire career was to play on that album, he would still deserve top props from me. But he was also working on Gilberto Gil’s ‘Refavela’ album which would yield one of the most beautiful songs either man would write, “Lamento Sertanejo (Forró de Dominguinhos.” But he opens the show with his most famous and instantly-recognizable song “Eu só quero um Xodó,” which is a staple in the forró song book now, both pé de serra and electric… I had always thought it was co-written with Gilberto Gil because of its appearance on the latter’s “Cidade de Salvador” album (underrated and rather hard to track down, unfortunately), and because the melody seems so obviously GIL to me.. But it’s not, its Dominguinhos and Anastácia. There is however, the Gil/Dominginhos collaboration “Abri a porta” later on, and the fantastic song written with Chico Buarque “Tantas Palavras.” There is even a song he co-authored with his nine year-old daughter Liv titled “Vários caminhos.” And it’s amazing.
I think this box has something like 13 discs in it and a book which transcribes all the interviews and has some commentary by the likes of Tarik de Souza and Sergio Cabral who worked on the SESC project. They are all pretty consistently good but this one is really special and definitely my personal favorite. It’s recorded with the sparseness and simplicity that really brings out the best in Dominguinhos without the frills of (over)production, and to hear him play some of these tunes *entirely* by himself (by which I mean, with the zabumba and triangle players sitting them out in the corner) is a privilege, like having him come by to your house and play for you on your veranda on a crisp autumn evening. Some of the other volumes in the SESC boxes seem to be made from second or third generation back-up tapes or transferred off the video reels, whereas this one has incredibly detailed and warm sound. And, of course, he has some anecdotes peppered between the songs that prove how any good sanfoneiro is also a good storyteller. He ends the show appropriately enough with an homage to his mentor, Luiz Gonzaga, and shows us why is truly the only one worthy of being Gonzaga’s successor and ‘filho postiço’.
RESPOTED ON MARCH 27, 2013