There is a sad note about both works reviewed.
The artists in them are virtual unknowns in their
no matter how highly acclaimed they
might be and they are not alone.
Brazilian Love Affair 3, Various Artists, Far Out Recordings
Partido Novo, Azymuth, Far Out Recordings
When I left Brazil a year and a half ago, I must confess that I was then quite a bit disheartened with the state of the
contemporary music of the land that gave us Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso and many other fine, world-renowned
musicians and composers.
Back then (and now), one was daily bombarded with the tasteless lyrics of the
pagodeiros (a grotesque corruption of samba, whose words are only around physical attributes of their barely legally clad dancers) such as É o Tchan, Rio de
Janeiro’s sexually obscene Funk (Americans would, upon listening to that, relate the sound to 80’s-styled rap blended with a bit
of Miami beat) or Bahia’s axé Music, which, despite a few talented voices (Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo), is nothing but
an Afro-Caribbean-influenced dance beat that dominates the airwaves on TV and everything else.
Of course, one could always rely on Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Rita Lee, Marisa Monte and many others, but then
again, with the exception of Monte, all the greats have been around since the sixtiesit’s like having to depend solely on Bob
Dylan, Paul McCartney or Eric Clapton for good English language songs.
In the last few months, however, I have realized that Brazilian music is alive and wellbut on alternative labels
which have begun a revolution of sorts, which has been slowly but steadily regenerating the quality of the sounds of Brazil.
Which brings us to two new releases from Brit label Far Out Recordings:
Brazilian Love Affair 3 and Azymuth’s
Brazilian Love Affair 3 is a collection of new recordings by a mix of new and established artists. Two tracks that
immediately stand out are "Disritmia" and "Olha Aí," both by Jairzinho Oliveira. Oliveira began his career years ago as a child artist.
During the eighties, he participated in Balão Magico (Magic Baloon), which was a kiddie group that also had its own TV show
at that time. He is also the son of Brazilian music samba legend Jair Rodrigues.
Another great track is "Calados" (Quiet ), sung by Luciana Mello. Written and arranged by Jairzinho Oliveira (who,
by the way, is her brother) it is a very traditional-sounding samba which takes you back to the days when the rhythm was
young. The song is followed by Joyce’s "Samba de Silva" (Silva’s Samba), which features MPB legend Elza Soares, who duets
cleverly with Joyce, whose career spans the last twenty years.
Another worthy track is "Aquele Gol" (That Goal), by Wilson Simoninha. Simoninha is the son of the late Wilson
Simonal, a popular singer from the 1960s. Simoninha sounds harrowingly like his father, and his musical style (unlike his brother,
Max de Castro, also present on the collection with the weak "Pra Você Lembrar") also makes us remember Brazilian music of
the sixtiesto a point that I had to check the credits to check if his father was not present in the recording.
Some forgettable tracks are Otto’s "Retratista"
(The Picture-Taker), which horribly backfires as it attempts to fuse
sounds from Northeastern Brazil with more contemporary stuff. The same goes with "Escravos de Jó" (Job’s Slaves), which not
even Celia Vaz can save from musical oblivion.
Brazilian Love Affair 3 is a good album to chill and listen to attentively, as is
Partido Alto, the newest release from
Brazilian jazz trio Azymuth (also present in the
collection), a highly respected group, which introduced many electronic sounds
into their country in the seventies and eighties. They recently regrouped, and their new album is quite interesting to those
who appreciate modern jazz.
In Partido Alto, acoustic and electronic sounds come together quite melodically something that is not very easy
to do. However, José Roberto Bertrami (keyboards, vocals, percussion), Alex Malheiros (bass, percussion, guitar, vocals)
and Ivan Conti (drums, guitar, percussion, vocals) are weathered musicians who know their thingand they deliver it quite well.
The album opens with the very jazzy "Em Maricá" (In Maricá), which nowhere makes you think that the musicians in
the band are Brazilians. The impression, however, disappears when the title track begins, with its 70s jazz-pop-samba sound
"Tempo Clássico" (Classic Times) reminds the listener of Dave Brubeck, especially for the way the drums and
keyboard are playedthe song, however, showcases Malheiro’s fine bass guitar workalso present on "Meu Amigo" (My Friend).
There are, of course, the not so good moments. Take, for example, "Rede de Espera" (Waiting Web), a
bossa-nova-styled song. As far as the playing goes, the song is fine, but who told Alex Malheiros (the song’s writer) that he could sing?
I can’t understand what the band was trying to attempt
with "Saudade do Doutor" (Still Missing the Doctor) . It
sounds like a blend of modern samba with touches of Sergio Mendeswhich backfires badly to my ears.
There is a single sad note about both works: The artists in both releases are virtual unknowns in their own lands, no
matter how highly acclaimed they might be and they are not alone. Many respected musicians, such as Bebel Gilberto (João
Gilberto’s daughter), Vinicius Cantuária, Eliane Elias enjoy fame and respect in the U.S. and in Europebut mostly fail to attain in
Brazil the same levels of success they enjoy abroad.
Both albums are, despite their bad moments, something I can surely recommend, for they are examples of how
Brazilian musicians still (as they’ve always had) have the ability to make great musiceven though their own countryfolk are
mostly unable to enjoy it.
For more information on these albums, log on to
Ernest Barteldes is an ESL and Portuguese teacher. In addition to that, he is a freelance writer who has regularly
been contributing The Greenwich Village Gazette since September 1999. His work has also been published by
Brazzil, The Staten Island Advance,
The Staten Island Register, The SI
Muse, The Villager, GLSSite and other publications. He lives in
Staten Island, NY. He can be reached at
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