Arranged By – Quinteto Violado
Artwork – Jorge Vianna
Design – Lobianco, Aldo luiz
Mastered By – Joaquim Figueira
Photography By – Rodolpho Machado
Producer – Paulinho Tapajós
Studio technicians – Paulo Sergio, Zé Guilherme
Produced & Distributed by CBD Phonogram
Matrix / Runout: 200 6349143 A1
Matrix / Runout: 200 6349143 B1
Vinyl transfer info: Original Philips vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; AUdioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
Today (June 24) is the feast day of St. John the Baptist, otherwise known as São João holiday in Brazil, which of course is a really huge deal in Brazil. Earlier this week we had an offering from Trio Nordestino. Now let’s have something for the universitário set with this mid-70’s record from Quinteto Violado. This record seemed a bit more fun to prepare for the blog than the other record of theirs that I posted a whole FOUR YEARS ago, over here. There you can read all about my misgivings about this kind of conservatory-trained appropriation of roots music. I’m not sure if I’ve loosened up, or if they have on this record – the group sounds a little less “studied” and more flowing here. Even if Berra-boi might be the “better” record, it sounds like they are having fun here. The blazing instrumental acrobatics of Rumo Norte and its wonderful, almost Beatle-esque vocal harmonies make me hopeful they won’t be hamstrung by any traditionalist puritanism. Or maybe the sense of fun is really just the “well-oiled machine” effect of groups that have been playing together for a while as a unit. It’s hard not to be impressed by their virtuosity here, but it still lacks something in the way of passionate conviction. Their deconstruction of the Luiz Gonzaga / Zé Dantas classic, A Volta da Asa Brança, is certainly fun to hear. It’s artful (or maybe just ‘artsy’), clever and playful and non-confrontational (unlike Caetano Veloso’s rendition that pushes into edgy performance art territory, as seen in the Phono 73 film). It’s cool, and their drummer is on fire in the bridge, but it’s coolness is also kind of emotionally flat, isn’t it? Quinteto Violado often sounds like they just need a vocalist with some soul to make their case more convincing. But then again, awkward or uninspiring vocalists seem to be a thing in music linked to Pernambuco, so maybe its just something I’m still not ‘getting’ after all this time. Like much about ‘roots music’ itself, sometimes you just have to be from there, so just ignore everything I’m saying. Just listen to the drummer, he’s incredible. What the hell is he doing on Mundão, besides blowing my mind?
They hit all the Northeastern folkloric touchstones here, with motifs from at least a dozen different genres of music or ‘dramatic dances’ that you will find only in the Nordeste, with particular emphasis on their native Pernambuco. Obviously there is the presence of forró and even a guest appearance by the late, great Dominguinhos, who co-authored “Sete Meninas,” which opens up the second side. He even sings a little on it. You’ll also hear a simulated glimpse of a sacred jurema ceremony and a devotional homage to the caboclo spirits that animate them on Canindé. Ciranda, chegança, boi bumba, caboclinhos, cavalo marinho, and pifanos, pifanos, pifanos! If those words alone excite you then you will at least enjoy spinning this a few times. If you don’t know them, well don’t expect me to be all didactic about it, after all I’m not writing a book here. If I were writing a book, my life would probably be in a lot better shape than it is right now. At the very least I wouldn’t be spending the night of São João, Midsummer’s Eve in my hemisphere, alone in front of a computer screen.
So sit beside the breakfast table,
think about your troubles,
pour yourself some pinga, and think about the bubbles.
And celebrate the bonfires
And things made out of corn
because he not busy dying
is busy being born.
Jackson do Pandeiro
São João Autêntico
1980 Sinter 2493-009
01 – O navio tá bom na marcha (Antonio Barros)
02 – Canoeiro novo (João Silva – Raimundo Evangelista)
03 – Sanfoneiro de vocês (Carlos Diniz – J. Nilo)
04 – Dá eu pra ela (Venâncio – Corumba)
05 – Três pedidos (Jackson do Pandeiro – Maruim)
06 – Vamos chegar pra lá (Almira Castilho)
07 – Na base da chinela (Jackson do Pandeiro – Rosil Cavalcanti)
08 – São João na roça (Antonio Barros – Jackson do Pandeiro)
09 – Acenderam a fogueira (Maruim – Jackson do Pandeiro)
10 – São João no brejo (Zé Catraca)
11 – Véspera e dia de São João (Jackson do Pandeiro – Maruim)
12 – Viva São João (Jackson do Pandeiro – Buco do Pandeiro)
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Audio Technica AT440MLa cartridge), Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
Like the last post, this is also a compilation of São João material, this time by the great Jackson do Pandeiro. As a collection, I find this to be a better listen than the Gonzaga record, something that you can put on from start to finish, in part because of the great variety here.
I think I am going to curate my own São João-themed compilation and put it out as a limited edition CD and vinyl release. I will call it “More Songs About Marriage and Corn”, and the cover art will feature 100 Polaroid close-up photos of a Festa Junina bonfire arranged in a mosaic. Production starts tomorrow.
There is no information whatsoever on the jacket of this “econo-series” budget LP by the Polygram-family Sinter label. Jackson, like Gonzaga, recorded and released hundreds of songs, released on dozens of LPs and CDs (although Jackson’s catalog is poorly represented on compact discs). The tracks on this seem to be drawn from the 1960s and 70s. I mentioned the variety earlier, which applies to the different sub-genres of festive Northeastern dance music played here, but also the instrumentation found in the arrangements. There’s saxophone, clarinet, even a tin whistle found in these groves. There is also the talented Almira Castilho on two songs. This may not be an essential record – in fact, I forgot I owned it until stumbling on it last week, and this post is officially the quickest vinyl-to-blog-rip in the history of this blog as I am normally notoriously slow and unhurried about these sorts of things. But there is still another week left of Festas Juninas during which this cute little collection is still relevant, so I moved a little quicker for you, dear readers.
A1 Vaquejada 5:13
A2 Duda No Frevo 2:20
A3 Três Três 1:54
A4 Ladainha 2:22
A5 Engenho Novo 3:39
A6 Minha Ciranda 2:42
A7 Pipoquinha 1:47
B1 Beira De Estrada 2:25
B2 Baião Do Quinjí 1:57
B3 Abraço Ao Hermeto 5:26
B4 Forró Do Dominguinhos 2:17
B5 De Uma Noite De Festa 3:15
B6 Cavalo Marinho 3:13
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
** There is an annoying dropout at 46 seconds into the track Engenho Novo. This is actually on the LP and not do to any post-processing at my end.
I have always had mixed feelings about Quinteto Violado for reasons elaborated below, their music is enjoyable, and this is probably as good a record as any to wind up the Festa Junina cycle – they are the kind of group that would headline an outdoor stage tonight, which marks the feast days of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul. While Quintet Violado had common ground with a lot of post-bossa nova MPB, their records played like an aural encyclopedia of Nordestino folklore. In fact they were so encyclopedic that they were chosen by folklorist and shifty entrepreneur Marcus Perreira to be the “house band” for his Música Popular do Nordeste albums, which launched a larger series of records chronicling ‘folkloric’ music from other regions of Brazil. On this, their second album, Quinteto Violado traverse the musical countryside and give us songs embroidered with forró, frevo, vaqueijada, ciranda, bumba-meu-boi, flute ‘fife and drum’ band or pifano music, and chegança-de-marujos / fandango. They also offer an homage to Hermeto Pascoal on one tune where they stretch out and push their own limits in tribute to that avant-garde alchemist of the Northeast, followed by a version of “Forró do Dominghuinhos” that is pretty original, using Dominguinhos’ unforgettable melody line as a release from the tension they build up around it. Unlike their debut album, which was halfway comprised of compositions associated with Luiz Gonzaga, this record is largely of their own authorship, with one “traditional” theme from Pernambuco’s variant of bumba-meu-boi, cavalo marinho, being given a short rearrangement at the end.
Formed by a group of university music students in the early 1970s and getting their start playing at the famous ‘festivals of song,’ Quintet Violado early on centered their musical identity around an embrace of the traditional sounds and folk musics of their native Pernambuco. There is a heavy dose of cultural appropriation happening, of privileged individuals drawing on the creative work of the povo sofrido. But if “my problem” with the Quinteto stopped there then it would be a pretty shallow criticism, because cultural mediation takes place at all kinds of levels and with all kinds of nuances. To cite an example, the world of samba is rife not only with tales of exploitation but also of interesting and productive creative partnerships and business relations that cut across class and racial lines. So, my misgivings have less to do with the fact that these are conservatory-trained musicians delving into folk music, than with other aspects that in many ways seem specific to the northeast and the historical moment when this group formed. Some of what I have to say in this blog post is even more applicable to the Orchestra Armorial that formed out of playwright and poet Ariano Suasunna’s work. The Quinteto Violado was never formally affiliated with Suasunna’s “movement” as far as I know but they were at least lauded by him as the decade wore on, as the kind of ‘popular music’ that young people ought to like. The elements of the Quintet that I find problematic are also present in even more exaggerated form in the Armorial project; I will surely have to do a blog post for an Armorial album now, not because I particularly want to but because I have opened that proverbial can of worms.
Getting back to this record, let’s take a statement from Roberto Menescal who wrote the blurb on the back cover of the LP:
“I believe that Brazilian musicians, including the entire young generation, are coming around to looking within, searching for their own roots and origins, in a path more personal and true where they can walk with security, originality, and inventiveness, and not just building on what has been done outside our country.”
This kind of sentiment is rich in irony coming from someone so central to bossa nova, a music that was excoriated by traditionalists for being unduly influenced by North American jazz. But neither Menescal or the Quinteto Violado were making claims of traditionalism here. Although there are no electric instruments whatsoever on this record, the upright string bass of the band’s leader Toinho is completely foreign to the folkloric music they draw upon, and you can hear the ‘jazzista’ influence both in the solos the members take and in the close intervals used in some of the chord voicings. So they were not trying to excavate a lost folklore music like the followers of Cecil Sharpe in Britain (many of whom I am a big fan of, incidentally), but wanted to draw on these elements and create new compositions, even when there was a strong element of emulation. Perhaps they were more like Inti-Illimani or certain others involved in the nueva canción who drew on indigenous music. And just like those artists were not necessarily indigenous, the members of Quinteto Violado did not come from the same social background as the people who originally made and continued to make the “folkloric” types of music they used as their palette. This is not in and of itself a problematic thing, except that these “roots” are celebrated as belonging to everyone – this is “our” culture, ‘o povo nordestino.’ Regional and colloquial references are employed in great density to built up an air of authenticity, to the point of really laying it on thick sometimes: in the song “Ladainha”, they manage to reference the ceramic folk-artist Vitalino from the city of Caruarú, alongside the bandit-heroes Lampião and Maria Bonita, and the deified (and mildly heretical) Padre Cícero from the town of Juazeiro, all in the same verse.
Although they might appreciate the cultural references, the intended audience for the music the Quinteto Violado made was not sharecroppers in the sertão, or cane cutters or wagon drivers like the family described in the song “Engenho Novo” here. Beginning with this album they had moved from performing at the festivals to giving their own somewhat elaborate concerts, which that like all MPB of the era involved stage designers and art directors. I would be interested to know what some of the regional folk musicians (whose styles were being appropriated) actually thought of the Quinteto’s music at the time, if they ever encountered it at all. “The people” who provide the inspiration and raw material for this kind of music are left out of its production, consumption, and critical appraisal; in the end, music like this can become yet another way to write people out of their own history.
The Quinteto’s musicianship is indisputable, and their intentions were sincere. It’s not as if they set out to dispossess a people of their musical traditions and make a ton of money on the backs of it. The band never really got rich and famous playing this kind of music, but they have made a healthy career for themselves, and maintain a level of visibility that is largely unachievable by those folk musicians of more humble backgrounds. This is not simply due to the relevant but also too-obvious fact that privilege and connections in the music business often count more than raw talent. In aesthetic terms, the trained musicianship and refined, conservatory sensibilities of the Quinteto allowed them to recast these rural folk music forms into a form that is more palatable for Brazil’s educated middle class, honing down the rough edges. The music is not decontextualized so much as recontextualized, stripped of elements that might offend the sensibility of a more erudite public. The frequently bawdy or raunchy language or double-entendre, the occasionally sexist or even racist jokes, and even the elements of social critique that might hint at an awareness of class struggle or exploitation: all are purged from this sanitized representation of cultura popular. To ask and to answer what purpose such representations serve in the long run would be to launch into a discussion verging on the academic, and dragging in outside references that don’t comfortably fit into this blog as I conceive of it. Besides – you will just have to wait and buy my book, if and when it is ever completed and/or published, when you can have footnotes and references to your heart’s content.
Of course, don’t let this write-up put you off from listening to and enjoying this record. It is well-conceived and well-played music, with an energy and enthusiasm that is palpable. There are gorgeous textures produced by the interplay between the acoustic guitar and Brazilian viola (not the bowed but the fretted instrument in the guitar family). There are plenty of reasons to appreciate this record on its own merits without taking any of the above into consideration. And for many Brazilians of the time, encountering Quinteto Violado was probably the first time they had heard of many of these music genres. Just like the first time I ever heard of the Banda de Pifanos de Caruarú was by way of their glorious opening of Gilberto Gil’s Expresso 2222 album, where I also heard my first Jackson do Pandeiro composition. The fact that most people are not compelled to dig deeper into the roots of their favorite contemporary artists does not cause me any great existential pain. The problem lies more with a particular way of celebrating “tradition” and fixing it in time and space in a way that fits a certain agenda, one that may be odds with the communities that originally cultivated it. All too frequently the people and institutions who herald these celebrations make claims that “the old ways” need to be revived and promoted or they will be lost to the ages, but instead of watering the “roots” and allowing them to flourish, they are watering them down and offering up a diluted simulacrum.
Leap through a bonfire, dance a quadrilha, have a mock marriage, eat lots of food made out of corn and enjoy the kids dressed up in cute little ‘matuto’ costumes of country
people in peasant blouses and rustic clothes. Little girls with freckles painted on and boys with fake mustaches.
I think it is safe to say that there is no symbol more iconic or more strongly associated with São João than the King of Baião, Luiz Gonzaga!
Every one of his records had some reference to it, and he made quite a few LPs entirely devoted to Festas Juninas or São João, and literally
everywhere you go in the month of June in the Nordeste you will hear his compositions being played by all kinds of bands of varying competence, and in all kinds of
styles. Last year was his centenary so celebrations were even more Gonzaga-centric. But I expect this guy’s legacy will last for another hundred years, easily.
Gonzaga recorded a ton of hugely-popular 78s in the 1940s and 50s, and while he never stopped recording or performing, his popularity dipped
for a while in the 60s as bossa nova, jovem guarda, and Tropicália saturated the music market. But he got a boost from the recognition of
the Tropicalístas who recorded a number of his compositions and soon he was back on top. This live record, released after his death, is pretty
cool. The notes from Sérgio Cabral claim this was the first time Gonzaga played in the Zona Sul in his entire life; I find this highly doubtful given his earlier fame. It would probably be more accurate and plausible to say that he had not played in Rio’s south zone for a decade or so. Notable for having protege Dominguinhos in the band as well as an
electric guitar (a rarity for Gonzaga), they run through a whole bunch of highlights in his oeuvre. But the concert was a month-long run at a
posh Copacabana theatre, after his “rediscovery,” and the music lacks some of the urgency and energy you might expect from a live recording.
Granted that Gonzaga was already a bit older than in his heyday, but I can’t help thinking some of it is about the fact that he’s playing for a
seated audience of polite middle-class people. Without the dancing and drinking and convivial revelry that has always been part of forró pé de
serra, it loses a little something. So I usually reach for earlier recordings when I want to crank up the Rei de Baião, but this show is
kind of a good greatest-hits retrospective, with Gonzaga telling stories during the songs, and the arrangements are cool. This must have been
recorded for television but I don’t know for certain. It’s a good document and a fun listen even if it’s not on my top-shelf choices of the great Seu Luiz.
João Limoeiro Poetas da Mata Norte 2 – Ciranda Released 2006
01 – Ciranda pesada 02 – O mar 03 – Com Deus 04 – Os animais 05 – As praias 06 – Amarre o boi 07 – Cultura nordestina 08 – Ô de casa 09 – Vida 10 – Vem cirandar 11 – Terra de São Severino 12 – Massacre 13 – Homenagem a Gonzaga 14 – Eu fiz 15 – Retrato
João Limoeiro – vocals Galego – trombone Roberto – trumpet Elias – vocals Edemar – vocals Walter – mineiro / shaker José Severino – surdo drum Biu do Tarol – snare drum
Produced by Siba
Well, my head has been left spinning by the wave of protests and mass mobilization over the last ten days or so, and it has seemed almost silly to be blogging about music with all these other things going on. At least the demonstration in Pernambuco happened relatively peacefully, with the police watching the demonstrations pass while wearing cute little carnations rather than cracking skulls and firing rubber bullets. I’m not inclined to use this blog as a platform for speechifying or deconstructing what’s been happening, and there is plenty of material to digest around the interwebs anyway. But I will offer a word to the wise – don’t believe *anything* you hear or see from Globo media (their insane monopoly of TV, radio stations, and newspapers) about what these demonstrations are all about or who these people are, because Globo is a an evil pathological organization with a reactionary, conservative agenda with roots in the military dictatorship. If you want news on the stuff happening in Brazil right now, turn anywhere but Globo and their affiliates. Independent coverage is out there (including a media cooperative NINJA which has provided live streaming), you just have to search for it.
But today is the vespers of São João, St.John’s day, and celebration is mandatory. I would be amiss if I didn’t post music to commemorate the day. I am mentally exhausted, though, so I will keep it this write-up brief…
This another entry in the great Poetas da Mata Norte series and one of two volumes devoted to the genre called ciranda. João Limoeira, of the city of Carpina, has been singing ciranda a long time. I have an LP of his recorded in the 1980s, courtesy of a lovely lass at a Nazaré radio station who was clearing out their vinyl (for shame!), and I must say that his new recording are much better. As I mentioned in a previous post, at that time he was using a lot of synthesizers (you know, it was the 80s after all). This record sounds much like a live performance would, except that it is divided into discrete compositions whereas on stage he would must likely just sing for an hour with hardly a break, just segueing one piece into the next. On the surface ciranda is a fairly repetitive music and you have to stay with it patiently to catch the micro-movements in its limited range of motion and tonal palette. Wordplay, boasting, paeans to nature, the sea, an homage to the King of Baião, Luiz Gonzaga, some brief diversions into social commentary, and celebration of the cultura popular of the Northeast region are all included in the lilting and rather beautiful melodies. Limoeiro brings a little bit of the rhythmic sense of embolada to Amarre O Bio, included in this sample below.
João Limoeiro performs regularly around the Mata Norte of Pernambuco so if you are ever there around this time of year, try and catch him. On this record he is accompanied by Roberto on trumpet and Galego on trombone, both natives of Nazaré da Mata who are also part of Siba’s project Fuloresta – they may or may not perform with Limoeiro on any given night. He also has dancers on stage these days, and he has other CDs he has self-released since this one and you can buy them direct. He is also a singer-poet of maracatu de baque solto, although he took a break from it for a while. I promise to post some examples of that style next month.
Zé de Teté Poetas da Mata Norte 4: Coco de roda 2005 Independent with funding incentives related to the Lei Federal de Incentivo à Cultura aka Lei Rouanet
01 – Dei um brado 02 – Ai, ai meu Deus 03 – Campo verde bonito 04 – Os serrotes 05 – Um preso na detenção 06 – Letra m 07 – As obras da natureza 08 – Canto ruim de morar 09 – Machadeiro Moacir 10 – Sos 11 – Votei tanto que cansei 12 – Tá solto no meio do mundo
Produced by Siba (Sérgio Veloso) Recorded between December 2005 and March 2005
It’s about time I shared some of the wonderful series of records released as “Poetas da Mata Norte,” and this one is just barely in time for the São João holiday. Ironically, Zé de Teté is the artist I know the least about out of the handful presented in the series, but it seems appropriate to start here given the time of year. If you look up northeastern “coco de roda” on the internets you will likely find things about dancing in circles, call-and-response singing and accompaniment with hand claps and wooden sandals, an array of percussion instruments, but precious little about the singers without whose words nobody would be dancing or singing along. Hence the importance of the “oral poet” to this music and many other strains in the many-threaded tapestry of Pernambuo’s cultural patrimony. Coco de roda is still found in its more raw form like that sung by Zé de Teté, Galo Preto, Dona Selma de Coco, Raízes do Arcoverde and others, but it has also influenced more mainstream artists, mostly famously Jackson do Pandeiro who was proficient in the style, and others like Alceu Valença (who really absorbed it via Jackson). “Coco” is typically associated with the sertão (semi-arid hinterlands) and agreste or scrubland regions of the interior but can be found further east all the way to the coast. Zé de Teté is from the city of Limoreiro in the agreste. With his strong and strident voice he brings us tongue-twisting word salads like “A letra M,” reflections on surviving in a tenuous relationship with nature (Canto ruim de morar, Campo verde bonito), a somber portrait of life inside a jail cell (Um preso na detenção), and the humor-cum-social-critique of tunes like “As obras da natureza” and “Votei tanto que cansei,” or “I’ve voted so much that I’m sick of it,” in which the singer expresses his disgust at the manipulative promises of politics and vows that he’ll only vote again if Jesus runs as a candidate. And of course there are songs of just the sheer pleasure of singing and making music, inviting all of us to the party.
This is the fourth volume in a series of six CDs. Coordinated and produced by Siba (Mestre Ambrósio, Fuloresta do Samba), the “Poetas da Mata Norte” project was an attempt to present some of the living traditions of ‘roots’ music in the state of Pernambuco, encompassing the styles of maracatu de baque solto, ciranda, embolada, and coco de roda. These styles are often unfamiliar to Brazilians outside of Pernambuco or the northeast of Brazil, and when they are represented in recordings or mainstream media they tend to be portrayed as folkloric “survivals” from some bygone, romanticized agrarian era. Siba’s objective was in part to release a body of work from artists who were living, breathing, and innovating within these “traditional” styles, with a focus on their lyrical content and wordplay, typically based on improvisation that takes place in a performance setting. Hence if you don’t speak any Portuguese you will definitely be missing a lot of the fun here, but it’s still great music regardless of that.
Siba, whose work with the band Mestre Ambrósio (the roots-branch of the Mangue Bit clique in Recife), led him to eventually relocate for a time to the interior city of Nazaré da Mata 67 kilometers to the north, did not “discover” these artists in any sense of the word. They all had long histories as performers, a loyal albeit local following, and in many cases had already been recording their own self-released CDs since the late 90s or so, usually funded by whatever savings they could squirrel away and with partners from local businesses or politicians (who would get prominently mentioned on the CD artwork…) At least a couple artists in the series, the cirandeiro João Limoeiro and embolador Antônio Cajú, were releasing vinyl LPs as early as the 1980s. Siba rather consciously used his “celebrity status” to launch this project with support from public arts funding organized under Brazil’s auspicious Lei Rounet for cultural incentives – you can see on the CD tray that contributes included the national oil company Petrobrás and the state arts council (FUNDARPE) among others. Not only did the presence of his name attract listeners who might otherwise not have heard of or cared about these types of music, but he was also an ideal producer. A student of Recife’s musical conservatory, he had relocated to the rural interior to learn from guys like this, and his dual familiarity with the recording process of studios and the improvised, street-level context of the music made for a near-perfect combination. I have a small collection of self-released stuff from some of these artists and the quality can be hit or miss – often plagued by limited studio time with engineers who couldn’t care less or don’t really understand the music, the discerning ear can find lots of instances of bad editing or dubious production choices (overuse of reverb, dropouts and so on). Some of João Limoeiro’s albums from the 80s used synthesizers instead of horn sections. I am not sure if this was to save time and money in the studio or if his actual band of the era performed that way a decade or more before Pernambuco’s roots “renaissance” came into full sway. The point is that Siba was able to bring out the best in these artists: they sound more comfortable and confident in the studio than they do on some of their self-produced recordings, the instruments sound full and robust, the repertoires are carefully chosen, and some productive collaborations between the artists took place on the albums. You don’t have to take it from me, you can see it in the short mini-documentaries there were included with each CD, here
The ultimate proof of the success of the whole venture is the high esteem in which the CDs are regarded by the normal audience for these regional styles of music. I can’t judge the outcome of the stated objective of calling attention to this music for outsiders because I don’t have any reliable way to measure its impact. The series is very much out of print and sought after by people interested in this stuff. In some cases the artists themselves don’t even have original copies. When I was trying to buy them all, I was instructed by a couple of the artists to go buy a pirated copy at the only local music store (who specializes in CD-Rs of regional music). The artists themselves had long ago loaned out their copies and never saw them again.
This title was one I managed to find in a shop way up north along the border of Pernambuco and Paraíba. I found two titles there, and scored a few more as gifts from Siba himself, with his blessing to distribute them far and wide since it is anybody’s guess if another pressing will ever be made. I managed to get secure rips of one or two others from friends who owned originals. I haven’t yet made good on my vow to distribute these far and wide, but better late than never. It is the month of Festas Juninas, a prolonged holiday that is really only commemorated in the northeast aside from some tepid folkloric events elsewhere in the country or the more animated parties held in local neighborhoods of Nordestino migrants in São Paulo or in Rio (where the place to be right now is the Feira de São Cristovão in the Zona Norte). So I will try to share as many of these as I can get uploaded before the month closes.