Candeia – Luz da Inspiração and Axé (1976-78)

 photo LuzDaInspiracaoCD_zpsa2a597cb.jpg
 photo axe_zps869ce97e.jpg

Dose Dupla (2 on 1)
Luz da Inspiração (1976) and
Axé! Gente Amiga do Samba (1978)

1977 Atlantic/WEA

1 Riquezas do Brasil (Brasil poderoso)
(Waldir 59, Candeia)   
2 Maria Madalena da Portela
3 Olha o samba sinhá (Samba de roda)
4 Vem menina moça
5 Nova escola
6 Já curei minha dor
7 Luz da inspiração
8 Me alucina
(Candeia, Wilson Moreira)   
9 Falso poder (Ser ou não ser)
10 Era quase madrugada
(Casquinha, Candeia)   
11 Cabocla Jurema
12 Pelo nosso amor

1978 Atlantic/WEA

1 Pintura sem arte
2 Ouro desça do seu trono
(Paulo da Portela)   
Mil reis (Candeia-Noca)

3 Vivo isolado do mundo
(Alcides Malandro Histórico)   
Amor não é brinquedo (Candeia-Martinho da Vila)

4 Zé Tambozeiro [Tambor de Angola]
(Vandinho, Candeia)   
5 Dia de graça
6 Gamação
Peixeiro granfino (Bretas-Candeia)
Ouço uma voz (Nelson Amorim)
Vem amenizar (Candeia-Waldir 59)

Beberrão (Aniceto do Império-Mulequinho)


Dia de Graça
Hoje é manhã de carnaval (ao esplendor)
As escolas vão desfilar (garbosamente)
Aquela gente de cor com a imponência de um rei, vai pisar na passarela (salve a Portela)
Vamos esquecer os desenganos (que passamos)
Viver alegria que sonhamos (durante o ano)
Damos o nosso coração, alegria e amor a todos sem distinção de cor
Mas depois da ilusão, coitado
Negro volta ao humilde barracão
Negro acorda é hora de acordar
Não negue a raça
Torne toda manhã dia de graça
Negro não se humilhe nem humilhe a ninguém
Todas as raças já foram escravas também
E deixa de ser rei só na folia e faça da sua Maria uma rainha todos os dias
E cante o samba na universidade
E verás que seu filho será príncipe de verdade
Aí então jamais tu voltarás ao barracão

It’s the 13th of May, a holiday in Brazil commemorating the abolition of slavery in 1888, when Princess Isabel found it in her benevolent, saintly heart to “free the slaves.”  Commemorations only work well when you exclude the inconvenient, which in this case would involve decades of debt peonage, landlessness, discrimination, and systemic racism shielded by a self-serving myth of so-called ‘racial democracy’ (“Brazil does not have a race problem, it has a class problem…”).  It is inconvenient for commemorations to pay attention to the harassment of people of color simply for being in the “wrong place” (like a shopping mall), to the militarization of the slums to make sure that people “know their place,” or if that still doesn’t work, vigilante citizens chasing and beating a teenage petty thief, stripping him naked and then chaining him to a lamppost with a bike lock.  Inconvenient that all of these last items have happened in the 21st century, in spite of provisions in Brazil’s 1988 constitution that make racism and racial discrimination a crime punishable by prison time, but which is of course never enforced.  It’s also probably best not to think about the voluminous documentation of forced slave labor and human rights abuses in the remote interior of the country (mind you, as an occasionally pedantic American historian insisted to me once, this is “not the same as the chattel slavery” of the transatlantic slave trade.. She’s right, but she was also kind of missing the point). 

So with all that in mind, a blog post of music by Candeia might be better suited for the holiday commemorating the death of Zumbi of Palmares rather than this patriotic flag-waving, parade-holding one.   After all Candeia did found his own samba organization called Grêmio Recreativo de Arte Negra e Samba Quilombo.  The song “Dia de Graça” is a gorgeous little composition, whose lyrics (cited above) trace a hopeful, somewhat utopian vision that messes with the classic “inversion” theme of carnival that is a beloved subject of erudite analysis from Bakhtin to Roberto DaMatta to that annoying book by Alma Guillermoprieto.  That well-trodden debate tended to be framed as:  Is the upside-down, burlesque and irreverent world of carnival – where the poor and dispossessed could dress and act like aristocrats or royalty –  a kind of social critique made by those whose voices were historically silenced, or was it a kind of ‘steam valve’ to release the bottled-up tensions of a hierarchical society to prevent them from erupting into genuine chaos and disorder.   Candeia’s poem, however, is from the point of view of the people who participate in the courtly procession of the samba school, which has roots stretching back to the black brotherhoods of Our Lady of the Rosary and the coronation ceremonies of the Congo Kings of the colonial period.  My ‘free’ translation with no attempt to maintain meter or rhyme, hence laid out as a paragraph here:

It’s carnival morning in all its splendor, the samba schools are going to parade in their elegance; these people of color with the majesty of kings are going to stride along the concourse (hail Portela!). Forget our troubles and suffering that we’ve lived through, live the happiness that we dream of all year long, give our hearts, happiness, and love to everyone with no regard for their color.  But when the illusion is over, poor thing, the black man returns to his humble shack.  Black man wake up, it’s time to wake up.  Don’t deny your race.  Make every morning your day of grace and freedom.  Black man don’t be humiliated and don’t humiliate anyone else, all of the races were also once slaves.  Stop being a king only in the pageant and make your Maria a queen for all days.  Sing samba in the universities, and see that your son can be a true prince in real life, and then you will never again have to return to that humble shack.

Samba has no shortage of bittersweet  songs about carnival, but I can’t think of too many that also sneak in jarringly direct negations of the supposed inferiority of black people with a line like “todas as raças já foram escravas também.”  It’s a we-shall-overcome expression of racial uplift clothed in the silk and velvet of Louis the XV.


“Dia de Graça” is from Candeia’s greatest album, “Axé – gente amiga de samba”  recorded shortly before he died.  He was a samba purist in the era of the commercialized spectacle that would culminate in the building of the Sambadrome, disillusioned with the direction of the samba schools were taking.  His father was a flautist who played choro and was part of Portela’s first comisão da frente. In his own words, Candeia was something of an intermediary between the generations, bridging the two Paulos – the original Paulo de Portela, and the great Paulinho da Viola.  You can see both Candeia and Paulinho (although not at the same time) in this amazing short film by Leon Hirszman called Partido Alto

The first half of this film centers around Candeia holding court from his throne of a wheelchair, giving a didactic demonstration of the partido alto style, its base in improvisation and similarity to Northeastern repente or embolada, different ways to sing it and dance it.  Check out the posters from Senegal on the walls behind them, which are very possibly from the first Festival of Black Arts held in Dakar in 1966 which had a big Brazilian contingent.  The second half, “In the house of Manacéia” captures as well as any film can the informal cauldron of creativity at a Sunday lunch of feijoada and samba with the old guard, seemingly extending quite long into the evening.  Paulinho, in the only narration in the film placed at the very end, talks about how from a very young age he saw partido alto as a type of communion, a participatory rite in which everyone could enter in their own way of improvising.  He remarks how “today” (i.e. the latter half of the 70s), samba had so many external obligations, emphasizing the “spectacle” at the expense of the sambistaReturning to the partido alto was a way to stay grounded in samba’s authentic roots.  The concept of “authenticity” is one that has preoccupied me on this blog and in other writing that I don’t put here.  Typically, along with my fellow travelers, I am preoccupied with the way elites have created and sustained the notion of an “authentic” form of culture, excluding much in the process, at the service of one or another ideology (both conservative and revolutionary).   What I’ve been interested in lately is the different ways that the idea of “authenticity” is used by participants themselves of a given form of cultural expression as a way to safeguard against the cooptation of outsiders.  Of course this gets hopelessly complicated when we have to consider state interventions that designate “patrimony,” and partido alto received that official recognition by IPHAN in 2007.  Journalist Lena Frias points out on the back cover of “Axé” that Candeia launched his Samba Quilombo foundation without any reference to the “whitening” of the art form that was a polemic at the time, and cites lyrics to show that he wasn’t interested in excluding anyone from the world of samba based on skin color.  A valid observation, but it doesn’t contradict in any way that Candeia felt pretty strongly about defending the black, Afro-Brazilian roots of the art form.

 When I first did some blog posts of Candeia records I was mildly chastised by a French blogger friend for not having written more at length about the greatness and importance of this important artist.  Naturally this discouraged me from posting anything else about Candeia for the better part of two years – What is it with these French dudes and their impressive 5000-word posts about samba, ain’t nobody got time for that!

Anyway, it is a non-trivial travesty that the Brazilian recording industry (and/or its multinational overlords) let this album stay out of print for decades.  Too add insult to injury, when Warner finally did reissue this album, as part of a double disc set including both of his Atlantic records, they left off the final track for no reason that I can discern.  Possibly an issue over publishing rights, but it could also just as likely be pure negligence or sloppiness on their part.  This was sort of a budget release (R$30 when it came out, now going for  R$20), but doesn’t even bother with even a blurb of text from Tarik de Souza, let alone actual liner notes.  I hate to praise EMI for anything but their budget series of 2-em-1 CDs from the early 00’s did much better in this regard.  It also fails to note the participation of other great sambistas like Dona Ivone Lara, Manaceá, Clementina de Jesus, and Aniceto de Império who all sing on different tracks.  Seriously, none of these people get mentioned anywhere on the CD.   I will say one good thing about this reissue – the remastering is quite nice and a huge improvement over the garbage reissues that the label Discobertas put out.

Which reminds me that I’ve yet to offer a single word about the other album in this set, Luz da Inspiração from 1976.  It is a fine album in its own right,  overshadowed by Axé but a very different record in a lot of ways.  Opening with the samba enredo of “Riquezas do Brasil”, it also has some first-rate offerings in the partido alto style – “Maria Madalena de Portela,” “Olha o samba, sinhá,” and “Vem menina moça.”  There are slower tunes too, almost samba-canção, like “Me alucina” and the title song whose arrangements have flavors of the Golden Age of samba (and, incidentally, a lyric about slaves transformed into kings).  The tune “Nova Escola” seems like it had his new foundation Quilombo in mind.  A few tunes have a more ‘samba de asfalto’ style like the work of Paulinho da Viola or João Nogueira, and then there’s the spare spiritism of “Caboclo Jurema.”

“Luz de Inspiração” is a more stylistically diverse album than “Axé” but also less cohesive as an artistic statement.  “Axé” really shows Candeia firing on all cylinders, with writing partners spanning his entire lifetime as a sambista, from Paulo de Portela to Martinho da Vila.  In fact the album deserves a post all to itself, but I will either leave that to the French, or perhaps I will make another one using a vinyl needledrop since it has ALL THE SONGS ON IT for fuch’s sake…

This blog post doesn’t really come around full circle to 13 de Maio or anything like that.  It’s a day for parades and for getting drunk.  Freedom is never “granted” by princesses or politicians.  Everyone knows that.

Conjunto Rosa de Ouro 1 & 2 (2010 Remaster)


Clementina de Jesus & Aracy Cortes
with Conjunto Rosa de Ouro
“Rosa de Ouro” and “Rosa de Ouro No.2” (1965 & 1967)
REMASTER 2010, EMI (BR-EMI-67-00271)

As you can hopefully tell, this is the exact same album(s) as my last post, only a brand-spanking-new reissue, whose pressing includes a beguiling “Clementina Jesus 100 aos” printed on it, even though (as one of our readers observed) she is listed as having been born in 1901. But whatever the confusion about the occasion, it is good to see Clementina’s work coming back into print and hopefully more reissues will follow. UNFORTUNATELY, the label opted to issue this as a budget slipcase release that contains NO information WHATSOEVER (yes, I am using many capital letters). I mean, literally, no notes, no photos, no backstory, no musician credits unless you squint really hard at the reproduction of the LP cover (and even then, only the singers are listed, the other musicians having been credited elsewhere on previous releases). In my opinion, this is a rather lame way to honor the legacy of Clementina.

So what about the other reason people by reissued albums: new/improved/or at least different sound quality? Well let us have a look and a listen…

The song “Jura” from the 1993 CD pressing


Left Right
Min Sample Value: -25959 -30224
Max Sample Value: 26572 32021
Peak Amplitude: -1.85 dB -.22 dB
Possibly Clipped: 0 0
DC Offset: .319 .243
Minimum RMS Power: -52.4 dB -56.87 dB
Maximum RMS Power: -8.06 dB -7.28 dB
Average RMS Power: -17.95 dB -14.85 dB
Total RMS Power: -17.16 dB -14.36 dB
Actual Bit Depth: 16 Bits 16 Bits

Using RMS Window of 50 ms

The same song, “Jura”, from the new 2010 remaster

Left Right
Min Sample Value: -31332 -31968
Max Sample Value: 30974 31926
Peak Amplitude: -.39 dB -.22 dB
Possibly Clipped: 0 0
DC Offset: .006 .006
Minimum RMS Power: -88.58 dB -88.21 dB
Maximum RMS Power: -5.75 dB -5.6 dB
Average RMS Power: -15.25 dB -13.07 dB
Total RMS Power: -14.49 dB -12.59 dB
Actual Bit Depth: 16 Bits 16 Bits

Using RMS Window of 50 ms

This is not a tremendous difference – it is mostly just louder. There is some flattening of the dynamics but not nearly as bad as others I have heard and SEEN, where the resulting waveform ends up like a ruler-straight solid line instead of, well, a wave. The new mastering does seem to have fixed a rather huge problem with DC offset in the first pressing, but so far I haven’t figured out what cumulative effect (if any) this has on the final mix, although the stats are a pretty stunning difference.

On some tracks off the new remaster, the stringed instruments cut through a little better in the mix, a quality that I consider a positive change. And A/B comparison of some tracks where the ample, layered percussion nearly drowns out the guitars and cavaquinhos on the first 1993 CD pressing are now suddenly opened up to the listener to appreciate the detail of those instruments. Here I’ve taken one track as an example, the medley that numbers 18 on the CD (Degraus da vida /Mulher fingida /O que será de mim? /Que samba bom/Só pra chatear). On the original CD pressing the guitars and cavaquinho sound dull and buried in the mix, overpowered in particular by the sibilance in the percussion. Here’s what they look like displayed visually

Track 18, “Degraus da vida”, 1993 pressing

Track 18, “Degraus da vida”, 2010 pressing

What this shows is a pretty significant boost in the upper frequencies most prominently from 6khz to 15khz, which would explain why the harmonics from those instruments are suddenly foregrounded. I haven’t the time or the inclination to examine whether this new EQ curve was used across all of both Rosa de Ouro albums, but my guess is that an identical or very similar equalization curve was probably applied for most of the material. At this point I don’t have a particularly strong opinion about whether one is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the other. To make matters more complicated, I recently got hold of a vinyl copy of the 2nd volume and am pursuing a vinyl copy of the *first*, after which I can drive myself insane trying to decide if either of these CD pressings actually improved a bit on the original vinyl. I know, perish the scandalous thought — but as my friend Justin Thyme has repeatedly observed, recording studios didn’t really *nail it* in terms of recording these larger samba conjuntos until the 1970s, when advances in multitrack recording allowed for better definition and separation between the instruments. So far, I am not completely in love with the sound of the original vinyl either, which makes me wonder why I have just spent all this time writing about the production values of these different releases.

Flabbergast needs a hug. Or a lady-friend. Or both.

In the end, make up your own minds.

Standing, left to right: Elton Medeiros, Turíbio Santos (non-member), Nelson Sargento, Paulinho da Viola, Jair do Cavaquinho, Anescarzinho do Salgueiro. Sitting from left to right are: Clementina de Jesus, Aracy de Almeida (non-member) e Aracy Cortes.

in 320 kbs em pee tree


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Clementina de Jesus & Aracy Cortes / Rosa de Ouro, Vol. 1 & 2 (1965 & 1967)

Clementina de Jesus & Aracy Cortes
Conjunto Rosa de OuroVolume 1 (1965) (MOFB 3430) and Volume 2 (1967) (MOFB 3494)Released as a 2-for-1 on EMI in 1993 (827301 2)

Liner notes in English and Portuguese. Complete art scans, m3u, cue. Ripped in EAC V0.99 pb5 with log. Properly Tagged FLAC

rosa de ouro

The `Rosa de Ouro` was a theatrical production that was born out of the joining of the scenes bubbling up around the “Zicartola” samba club (a short-lived but very important business venture by Cartola and his wife, Zica), and the Opinão stage production put together by Nara Leão, Zé Keti, and João do Vale. To my knowledge there were no film cameras rolling around this cauldron of creativity, at least nothing in the way of a full-length feature, and it is a damn shame.

This show marked the “discovery” of Clementina de Jesus, her first time being thrust into the spotlight of the media, who was co-billed alongside Aracy Cortes who had years of experience as a singer in the theatre. As you can see from the woodcut shown here, the personnel is remarkably similar to the Conjunto “Voz do Morro”. Paulinho da Viola limits himself to the role of backing musician and vocalist on these records, contributing only two songs across both albums, but there are plenty of writing credits from Elton Medeiros, and the rest of the repertoire features tunes from Ismael Silva, Cartola, Pixinguinha, Assis Valente, Jair Costa, Noel Rosa and Anescar, Geraldo Pereira, and a host of public domain/’folklore’ sambas. There is even one tune credited to Heitor Villa-Lobos with Herminio Bello de Carvalho (the producer of the stage production). I am not sure if that composition was specifically created for this show. The theatrical production itself unfolded somewhat in the form of a documentary and manifesto of samba, with the live performances interspersed with pre-taped `depoimentos`, testimonial pieces of interviews with composers like Donga, Pixinguinha, Ismael Silva, and Cartola, singer Elizete Cardoso, and music critics and writers Mario and Sérgio Cabral. The musicians were seated around a simple table like one might find in any botequim in Rio de Janeiro. I am not a samba historian but I don’t think it would be too extravagant a claim to nail down the roots of the ‘samba revival’ that would eventually blossom in the early 70s to this moment right here. In the wake of the dominance of bossa nova, where so many sambistas and composers found themselves nudged out of the spotlight, the Rosa de Ouro was part of a revitalization and resurgence of new energy rising up out of the seemingly-bottomless fonts of inspiration of samba’s giants. These records are great, but I can’t shake the feeling that they are only a shadow of what the actual theatrical experience must have been like.

These two albums have just this year been released as a budget reissue in a digipak-style slipcase, from 2010 and according to the artwork celebrating 100 years of Clementina de Jesus. I will post something more about that shortly.

Gorgeous woodcut used on the jacket of Vol.2 first pressing

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Clementina de Jesus – Marinheiro Só (1973)


Marinheiro só
Released 1973

1 Marinheiro só (Caetano Veloso)

2 Na linha do mar (Paulinho da Viola)

3 Madrugada (Antônio Motta – B. Miranda)

4 Sai de baixo (Eduardo Marques)

5 Taratá (Folclore adpt – Clementina de Jesus)

6 Essa nega pede mais (Paulinho da Viola)

7 Moro na roça (Zagaia – Folclore adpt – Xangô da Mangueira)

8 Cinco cantos religiosos:
• Oração de Mãe Menininha (Dorival Caymmi)
• Fui pedir às almas santas (Arr. Adpt. Clementina de Jesus)
• Atraca, atraca (Arr. Adpt. Clementina de Jesus)
• Incelença (Arr. Adpt. Clementina de Jesus)
• Abaluaiê (Waldemar Henrique)

9 Marinheiro só (Caetano Veloso)
• Me dá o meu boné (Padeirinho)

“Marinheiro só” is an amazing samba record from the early 70s. Leading off with the Caetano Veloso song of the same name, it is start to finish an engaging listen. There are two tracks from Paulinho da Viola — “Na linha do mar” and “Essa nega pede mais” — and one from Caymmi included in the a medley of religious songs. The whole album is gold, but of particular note is this 12-minute suite of religious songs that celebrates sambas roots in candomblé and umbanda. It is recorded, performed, and presented in a way that communicates the feeling of a ‘terreiro’ (place of worship for Afro-Brazilian religious ceremony). A landmark record that brings some feeling of the old guard to the new 70s samba revival.

*note: This upload is taken from a 2 for 1 that includes “Gente de antiga,” which will be coming here soon. Because of this the track numbers run from 13 to 21.

Clementina de Jesus – Marinheiro Só (1973)320 kbs

Clementina de Jesus – Marinheíro So (1973) [FLAC]