Brazil: Ary Barroso’s Unknown Album

Brazil: Ary Barroso's Unknown Album

Researcher Omar Jubran has been working on the Ary Barroso
project for about ten years
now. However, securing a release
for the projected 20-CD collection isn’t so simple, as
sponsorship has
yet to be found, notwithstanding
Ary Barroso’s centennial, which occurs this year.



In this virtual age, when so little is hidden and so much revealed with a mere click of the mouse, the sudden
appearance of an unknown album by a major artist is hardly an everyday occurrence. Such an unlikely event took place on 1 July
2003, when I received an appeal for help from Omar Jubran. As all fans of classic samba know, Jubran is the paulista
researcher who worked for ten years tracking down and remastering all the original recordings of Noel Rosa’s songs. After
several frustrating years spent searching for a record label, the 14-CD collection
Noel Pela Primeira Vez eventually saw the
light of day via Funarte and Velas.

Several years before completing the Noel project, Jubran began on an even more daunting task—assembling all the
original recordings of Ary Barroso’s tunes. Finding Ary’s recordings was harder than the Noel search, for a complete
discography of Ary’s compositions has never been compiled. Moreover, Ary’s career was four times as long as Noel’s, and he was a
highly prolific as well as a uniquely successful composer both at home and abroad. Jubran has been working on the Ary project
for about ten years now, and his quest for the original recordings is almost complete. However, securing a release for the
projected 20-CD collection isn’t so simple, as corporate or institutional sponsorship has yet to be found, notwithstanding
Ary Barroso’s centennial, which occurs this year.

Undeterred, Jubran presses on. In addition to hunting for old recordings in used record stores, he received 78-rpm
discs and vinyl LPs on loan from collectors all over Brazil. One of these collectors is the octogenarian Brazílio Carvalho, who
lent Jubran an LP titled Fantasia Carioca (Musart LPD 94), purchased by him in a used disc store in Brazil. Examining the
tracks, Jubran discovered what apparently Mr. Carvalho hadn’t noticed until then: the
choro "Divagando," previously
unknown. The disc bore the Mexican Musart label and had been produced by the U.S. label Audio Fidelity, yet there was no
indication as to where and when the recording took place or when the record had been released. Thus the e-mail of 1 July, asking
whether the album was recorded in the U.S.A. or in Mexico and, most important, in which year it was recorded or released.
Closing his message, Jubran wrote: "Aguardo qualquer informação. É muito importante para mim. Conto com você."

Although the complete Ary Barroso discography remains unpublished, the most authoritative source available on
the composer is Sérgio Cabral’s biography
No Tempo de Ari Barroso (Rio de Janeiro: Lumiar Editora, 1993). There, on
page 301, one learns that in the spring and summer of 1953, Ary took an
"orquestra-espetáculo" on tour to Venezuela and
Mexico, intending to add Cuba and the U.S. to the itinerary. For his tour band, the composer borrowed musicians from Severino
Araújo’s Orquestra Tabajara and Peruzzi’s Orquestra Marajoara, including in the roster Júlio "Julinho" Barbosa, José Luiz, and
Geraldo Medeiros (trumpets); Paulo Moura, Darci Barbosa, Bijou, and Orfeu (saxophones); Maciel and Nelsinho (trombones);
Alfredo "Mesquita" de Souza (drums); Malagutti (bass); Gauri (piano); and Caramujo
(pandeiro). In addition, there were three
unnamed percussionists, the comic Walter Machado, the dancer Vieirinha (Manuel Vieira Filho), and the singers Édson Lopes,
Aracy Costa, and Dora Lopes. If these vocalists have ever recorded an Ary Barroso song before or after the tour, I haven’t
been able to locate such recording. Dora Lopes, who was a gifted songwriter as well as spirited samba singer, was
"discovered" in Ary’s radio talent show in 1949.

According to Cabral, the repertoire was determined before the voyage, and the musical arrangements were written
by the bandleaders Severino Araújo, Pernambuco, Morfeu, and Zezinho. The program included the following tunes:

• Rio de Janeiro (Ary Barroso)—Orchestra

• Terra Seca (Ary Barroso)—Édson Lopes

• Chamego (author?)—Dora Lopes

• Boneca de Pixe (Ary Barroso/Luiz Iglésias)—Aracy Costa & Vieirinha

• Na Baixa do Sapateiro—Édson Lopes

• Granada (Agustín Lara)—Orchestra

• Sinfonia Carioca (author?)—Édson Lopes

• Frevo (author?)—Orchestra & Vieirinha

• Macumba (author?)—Dora Lopes & Vieirinha

• Aquarela do Brasil (Ary Barroso)—Édson Lopes

• Rapsódia Carnavalesca (author?)—All

In Mexico City, Ary’s orchestra appeared on radio, at the Versailles
nightclub, and in a successful series of daily
shows at the Teatro Lírico, where parallel shows were presented by Agustín Lara and his orchestra in a battle of the bands.
Apparently, neither Ary nor Agustín Lara knew how to conduct, but nobody minded such trifles. All went well until the tour
impresarios, Florencio Contreras and Cesar Luchetti (the former a Chilean, the latter an Argentine), ran away with all the box-office
receipts, leaving Ary and his troupe high and dry. Fortunately, the run at the Teatro Lírico was extended, and the orchestra was
invited to perform again in various radio stations and nightclubs, thus making up some of what had been lost.

The impresarios’ shenanigans were not the only disappointment confronting Ary in Mexico. He had planned to make
four films there, but just then the film workers went on strike. Similarly, two LPs that were meant for RCA Mexico were
scuttled owing to a technician and musician strike. While he was in Mexico, Ary wrote that he had received proposals from Los
Angeles, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Buenos Aires. It appears that those proposals fell through, and no report of a U.S. tour has
been published. Hence the surprise at the sudden appearance of an unknown LP bearing a Mexican label and produced by an
American one.

Never having heard of Fantasia Carioca, I did a quick Web search and found a single mention: a used LP emporium
in the Midwest was offering the disc for sale. Prompted for a release place and date, the merchant wrote: "Can’t tell where
it was recorded. No year indicated but circa 1960." After obtaining a track list ("Tunes: instrumentos Brasilieras, maria la
o, copacabano, brazil, no taboleiro, divagando, Granada, alma llanera, bahia, risqué, que dues me perode, na gafeira, el
baiao del pinguino.") and ascertaining that Ary was indeed a listed performer ("Ary plus un-named percussionists"), I bought
the album.

The actual LP didn’t provide an immediate answer. The record company named on the label is Mexican, yet the
language on the label as well as on the back cover is English. A crescent of text at the bottom of the label proclaims: "Produced
by Audio Fidelity, Inc. 465 W. 51st St., New York 19, N.Y." The performers indicated on the label are "Ary Barroso and
his Orch."

Seeking clues in the unsigned and undated notes didn’t help. Particularly confusing was the following passage:

Rio is the crowning glory of Brazil. Modern in every respect, the city boasts attractions each of which has its own
particular kind of fascination. Not the least of these is the fabulous Casino da Urca, the gayest and most sophisticated of
the continent’s night clubs built on one of Rio’s beaches. Here the main attractions are dancing and gambling.

The writer of the above notes couldn’t have visited Rio de Janeiro (or, for that matter, any other Brazilian city) since
at least early 1946, for in that year gambling was outlawed in Brazil by order of President Eurico Gaspar Dutra, and all the
casinos were closed, including the famed Cassino da Urca.

Of the 13 tracks, only seven contain tunes composed by Ary. Among the remaining six, there are two zarzuela
songs—the Cuban "Maria la O" and the Venezuelan "Alma Llanera"—plus the Mexican canción "Granada." All famous songs
by celebrated popular composers. Their inclusion was no doubt meant as the Brazilians’ tribute to their intended host
countries, with the tunes arranged in samba rhythm.

The opening track is a demonstration of Brazilian percussion instruments, introduced in Spanish by Ary, who
announces each instrument in turn: "Las cabaças, los tamborins, los reco-recos, el pandeiro, el ganzá, la bateria."

Two additional non-Ary tunes are Brazilian: the great hit "Copacabana," sung by Aracy Costa, and the obscure "El
Baiao del Pinguino," in an orchestral rendition with chorus. The latter’s Spanish name is misleading, but this instrumental with
sung chorus has nothing to do with the mambo "El Baile del Pingüino," which Ernesto Duarte Brito wrote for Carlos "Patato"
Valdés and which was subsequently recorded in Brazil by Waldyr Calmon and his orchestra and made universally known by
Tito Puente. The composer is given as Mesquita, and my assumption was that he’s none other than Alfredo "Mesquita" de
Souza, the drummer in Ary’s tour orchestra. Paulo Moura, who at the age of twenty was the orchestra’s lead saxophonist on his
first trip abroad, confirmed that the author was indeed "o Mesquita da bateria."

Of Ary’s own seven compositions, "Aquarela do Brasil" is presented by the orchestra alone, "Na Baixa do
Sapateiro" by Édson Lopes and orchestra, and "Risque" by Dora Lopes and orchestra. "Risque" was a great success in Mexico
under the title "Borre Mi Nombre de Su Caderno," and the vocal rendition in
Fantasia Carioca includes a final refrain in
Spanish. The singers’ renditions tend toward bombast, a style destined to become passé just a few years later, when João Gilberto
would kill it off with a subtle yet swift blow. The orchestral style is expansive and danceable, very much of the period.

That leaves the four tracks on which Ary plays piano in his inimitable style, accompanied by percussion. "No
Tabuleiro da Baiana" is known to all, usually as a sung duet. It was first recorded in 1936 by Carmen Miranda and Luiz
Barbosa, accompanied by the conjunto regional of Pixinguinha with Luperce Miranda on bandolim. The tune listed as "Na
Gafieira" is the samba "Sambando na Gafieira," first recorded by Ary in 1951. A third tune bearing an unfamiliar title, "Que Deus
Me Perdoe" turns out to be "Ocultei," which Elizeth Cardoso recorded with Vero (Radamés Gnattali) and his Orchestra in
1954. The fourth tune is the unpublished choro "Divagando" that caught Omar Jubran’s eye.

The presence of "Risque" (1952), "Que Deus Me Perdoe," and "Sambando na Gafieira" indicates that
Fantasia Carioca was likely to have been recorded in the first half of the 1950s. An additional clue was the presence on the back cover of
cross-marketing ads for three other Latin-American LPs from the same label:

• Ramón Márquez: Ritmo Sabroso—cha cha cha, merengue,
mambo (Musart LPD 215)

• Raul Iriarte: Tango Argentino (Musart LPD 195)

• Ramón Márquez: Rico Cha Cha
Cha (Musart LPD 157)

These albums were easier to date than Fantasia
Carioca, as they’re available for purchase from vinyl purveyors who
provide release dates. The most recent release, Musart LPD 215, was dated at 1958. Musart LPD 195 was dated at 1957, and
Musart LPD 157 was estimated to have been released circa 1955. Judging by the label’s probable rate of album releases, Ary’s
LP (Musart LPD 94) could not have been released later than 1954, which would be entirely compatible with a 1953 recording.

On the other hand, the presence on the back cover of ads for subsequent albums from the same label and the English
language on the packaging indicate that Audio Fidelity did not release
Fantasia Carioca in the U.S. until at least 1958.

The two existing Fantasia Carioca copies I know of—Brazílio Carvalho’s and mine—both came from Audio
Fidelity’s U.S. edition, which was intended for the Latino market. Are there surviving LPs of the original Mexican edition? Only
time will tell. But even in the absence of the original edition, several conclusions can be safely drawn:

• Fantasia Carioca is the first LP Ary Barroso recorded

• It contains the debut recordings of two tunes, both played by Ary

• The "Divagando" recording is not only the first but very likely the only one ever made

• "Que Deus Me Perdoe" was recorded before "Ocultei" and thus was probably the

   original title of the song, drawn from the lyrics:

[…] O meu mais ardente desejo

Que Deus me perdoe o pecado

É que outra mulher ao teu lado

Te mate na hora de um beijo

Ary Barroso & his Orchestra: Fantasia Carioca—Sambas Baiaos

(Musart LPD 94; recorded in Mexico in 1953)

01. Instrumentos Brasileiros (percussion demonstration)

02. Maria la O (Ernesto Lecuona)—orchestra

03. Copacabana (João de Barro/Alberto Ribeiro)—Aracy Costa & orchestra

04. Brazil [Aquarela do Brasil] (Ary Barroso)—orchestra

05. No Tabuleiro da Baiana (Ary Barroso)—Ary & percussion

06. Divagando (Ary Barroso)—Ary & percussion

07. Granada (Agustín Lara)—Orchestra

08. Alma Llanera (Pedro Elias Gutiérrez)—piano & orchestra

09. Bahia [Na Baixa do Sapateiro] (Ary Barroso)—Édson Lopes & orchestra

10. Risque (Ary Barroso)—Dora Lopes & orchestra

11. Que Deus Me Perdoe [Ocultei] (Ary Barroso)—Ary & percussion

12. Na Gafieira [Sambando na Gafieira] (Ary Barroso)—Ary & percussion

13. El Baiao del Pinguino (Alfredo "Mesquita" de Souza)—orchestra & chorus


The writer publishes the online magazine of Brazilian music and culture Daniella Thompson on Brazil and the website Musica Brasiliensis, where she can be contacted.

This article was originally published in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.

Copyright © 2003 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.


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