Elza Soares – Lição de Vida (1976)


This post dedicated to J Thyme, whose comments are always insightful but which I seem to have been taking for granted. I know he already has this album but hopefully the new remaster and extra bonus cuts will be of interest. I’ll try to be a better communicator in the future. No hard feelings, I hope.

LIÇÃO DE VIDA Elza Soares 1976 on Tapecar X.42 Reissued 2010 on `Discobertas` (DB-053)

1 Malandro (Jotabê, Jorge Aragão)
2 Cipriano (Sidney da Conceição, Romeo Nunes)
3 Lição de vida (Paulo de Capitola)
4 Pinta e borda (Belizário, Di Ferraz)
5 Rainha dos sete mares (Lino Roberto, Alfredo Silva, Avarese)
6 A rosa (Efson)
7 Curumbandê (Beto Baiano)
8 Nó na tristeza (Carlito Cavalcanti, Vicente Mattos)
9 Deus e viola (Neoci, Dida)
10 Estou com raiva de você (Miro Barbosa, Jorge Roberto)
11 Samba, minha raiz (Ivone Lara, Délcio Carvalho)
12 Sal e pimenta (Newton Ramalho, Nazareno de Brito) Mulata assanhada (Ataulfo Alves) Beija-me (Roberto Martins)

BONUS TRACKS (recorded live)
13. Vem Chegando a Madrugada (Noel Rosa de Oliveira – Adil de Paula)
14. Quando Vim de Minas (Xangô da Mangueira)
15. Sei Lá, Mangueira (Paulinha da Viola, Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)

Elza Soares has a massive discography, a fascinating life, and an unmistakable voice. Her `voz rouca` (course voice) occasionally breaks into scat singing very reminescent of Louis Armstrong, and ela gosta de gritar / she likes to scream to punctuate some of her musical phrases (listen to ‘Pinta e Borda’ for lovely examples of both). In fact she does this more nowadays than she did in the 1970s, but in these days she did it with more subtletly, in my opinion.

In spite of the consistently high caliber quality of her albums in the 1970s, Elza’s career was in something of a slump — but only by comparison to the phenomenoal successes she had in the 1960s when she recorded for Odeon. Now signed to Tapecar, it can probably said that her shining star was somewhat eclipsed by label-mate Beth Carvalho (who had signed to RCA by this time), Alcione, and Clara Nunes as the reigning queens of samba in the 70s. Which is a shame, because the result is that these Tapecar albums — in spite of having some hit songs on them — are relatively underappreciated in Brazil and have been out of print for years until now. The fledgling label Discobertas, who seem to have aquired a chunk of Tapecar`s back catalog, has reissued four of her albums from the 1970s and two from the 1980s all at the same time. (They also issued a small Beth Carvalho boxset of Tapecar material, which I have been very truent in uploading here…). I’ve been able to find a few of these on vinyl, and at the risk of sounding like a characture of myself I have to say I am not completely convinced about the remastering on these. There is sibilance in the vocals that is attentuated on the vinyl (with a good stylus) and distortions in some of the instruments. But it is great to see the albums in print, and Discobertas has included bonus tracks from a rather rare series that Tapecar issued of recordings organized by Project Minerva. The tracks here are from volume 8 and are from a live radio broadcast. If you pay attention you can hear the tracks are sourced from vinyl… I have Volume 7, which is incredible and features some very tracks from Cartola that I don’t believe have ever been issued on CD. With any luck I will upload that one here too…

The arrangements are mostly by keyboardist Ed Lincoln, who was sort of the staff arranger at Tapecar at this period but whose renowned career goes back as long as Elza herself. In addition to Lincoln, three tunes (Pinta e Borda, A Rosa, and Estou Com Raiva de Voce) are arranged by clarinetist, sax player and genius Paulo Moura And the arrangements all perfectly compliment the tunes and her voice, and Moura’s have the additional touch of jazz-samba flourishes you might expect from him. I also suspect he may have played on some of this, although the lack of musician credits on the CD make this speculation on my part. Her repetoire features a great deal of new sambas by new sambistas like Jorge Aragão (soon to be a member of Fundo de Quintal and currently a samba star on his own). An interesting highlight is the presence of “Samba, Minha Raiz”, written by Dona Ivone Lara but only to be recorded by her a few years later and is now a samba classic. The album ends with a medley of material culled from the early years of Elza’s career – three rapid-fire segments of “Sal e Pimenta”, “Mulata Assanhada,” and “Beija-me”. The brief liner notes from Marcelo Fróes trace the authorship and recording history of these tunes very succinctly for those who are interested. The bonus tracks from the Project Minverva radio broadcast on Rádio MEC end up becoming a tribute to Mangueira – “Vem Chegando a Madrugada,” “Quando Vim de Minas” and “Sei lá, Mangueira”. With composer credits like these (Noel Rosa, Xangô de Mangueira, Paulinha da Viola), it’s hard not to be convinced.

On the back album cover, you’ll notice the photographic depictions of domestic bliss showing Elza, her newborn child, and her husband, footballer Garrincha. Unfortunately these idyllic images were apparently more an ideal or perhaps a posture than a reality. In a marriage frequently described as “turbulent”, both Elza and Garrincha were pretty well immersed in alcoholism at this point and known for their frequent quarels and fights. And sadly Garrincha would famously beat the crap out of Elza only a year later (one last time?) after which she would divorce him.

This album shouldn’t be passed up by any fans of Elza or afficionados of samba (kind of a redundant statement, since they are more or less synonymous). Enjoy! (password in commentaries)