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Too Tasty Martinho

Too Tasty Martinho

A poll by Berlin-based Transparency International with
international businessmen from around the world has shown Brazil among
the 15 most corrupt nations in the world. As often as they can get away
with it, Brazilian politicians — many of them anyway — use the machine
of the state to advance their own business and help friends and relatives.
And despite several efforts to clean the air, bribes, embezzlement, and
nepotism are still too common and accepted by society in general as the
price of doing business.
By Brazzil Magazine

Never before has Martinho da Vila made a recording whose title was so
strong an indicator of what awaited the listener. Coming at a time when
many were beginning to think that Martinho’s time had passed, Tá
Delícia, Tá Gostoso (It’s Delicious, It’s Tasty) climbed
the charts with the same trajectory of his greatest hits. Competing side
by side with the new artists of sambanejo (Raça Negra-like
groups), Martinho had been all but forgotten by the public, as were other
artists faithful to the rhythm and instrumentation of traditional samba:
Paulinho da Viola, João Nogueira, Beth Carvalho, and Grupo Fundo
de Quintal.

Lacking the philosophy, poetry, and harmony of "real samba,"
the visionless invasion of sambanejo had been a thorn in the side
of samba for some time. Leader of the group Raça Negra, Luiz Carlos,
stated recently that Martinho’s problem was that he talked too much about
politics. Martinho has for many years demonstrated his empathy for African
culture and its origins, often denouncing the situation of Blacks in Brazil.
Carlos felt that it was time for Martinho to come back to the theme of
a woman, the constant theme in the music of Raça Negra.

Martinho’s long-awaited reaction to that lineage of samba was resoundingly
celebrated by his fans and colleagues at his bar, "Butiquim do Martinho,"
in Rio’s Vila Isabel neighborhood. Tá Delícia, Tá
Gostoso is expected to sell over a million and a half copies and guarantee
the sambista a Duplo de Platina (Double Platinum). Sales like these are
unprecedented for traditional samba today, a genre that had been retired
from the best selling lists. The recording is a milestone to be celebrated
by all lovers of samba.

This 12 track synthesis of Martinho’s work is sheer joy. Vivid cover
art by Elifas Andreato once again delights the eye and sets the tempo for
what lies inside the jewel case.All tunes flaunt the type of instrumentation
preferred by those who oppose sambanejo. There is a profusion of percussion
and string instruments, but just a hint of keyboards -the favorite refuge
of those who play sambanejo. The arrangements, clear and with little elaboration,
were crafted by the band members themselves.

And Martinho’s choice of musicians was not accidental. We find him surrounded
by familiar friends and family. Rildo Hora, one of Brazil’s top samba producers
is on board again as are other Martinho regulars like Claudio Jorge, violão;
Alceu Maia, cavaquinho; Gordinho, Ovídio, and Paulinho da Aba, percussion.
The backing vocalists are noteworthy not only for their collective cohesion
and their individual contributions, but also because three of the singers
are Martinho’s gifted children from his first marriage to Anália:
Martinho Antônio, 33; Analimar, 30; and Mart’nália, 26. Mart’nália
and Tunico Ferreira also perform with the bateria. There is no nepotism
here; all are formidable musicians.

The plum, however, is the presence of João de Aquino. Aquino’s
violão playing reflects the intelligent absorption of a variety
of influences. He has been one of the lesser known but more influential
players, composers, and arrangers on the fringe of the big time for some
years and is a familiar and welcome figure at the most demanding recording
sessions. It is no small feat to synthesize Martinho in 12 tracks, and
long-time fans may argue that some of the forms, rhythms, and sounds Martinho
has been identified with for years: samba-enredo, vibrant African influences,
and his familiar signature, the samba de partido alto (a type of
samba with short, light refrains that the singer follows with improvised
verses) are missing. Yet the relaxed warmth of Martinho’s voice, the very
tight arrangements, and the high caliber of musicianship that gives the
entire project its unruffled, solid groove, establish Tá Delícia,
Tá Gostoso as a pinnacle for traditional samba and Martinho
as a permanent resident of the best seller’s charts.

For this project, there was considerable pressure exerted upon Martinho
by his record label to come up with a hit. Martinho, viewing his career
as a type of religion, resisted at first. Like any religious devotee he
needed to have more than just the catechism. Martinho has always believed
that artists who started the recording process with the illusion of making
big money were lost. Enjoying the recording process had always been his
key to success, not the other way around. He was hesitant also because
efficient marketing and promotion has always been essential, even for established
artists with high quality recordings and music that appeals to the public
at large. And Sony had backed off in the past after initially promising
to promote several of Martinho’s releases that could have done very well.

Taking his time developing the concept, Martinho selected a repertoire
of themes and lyrics that would not only reconquer his public, but also
the fans of sambanejo. Of the 12 compositions, each has its own
individual attraction, so much so that it is more difficult than usual
to predict which will turn out to be the one with the greatest popular
appeal. Although Martinho’s own compositions have dominated his 29 album
discography, one important distinction marks this recording as a turning
point in his career of almost 30 years: Tá Delícia, Tá
Gostoso is his first work primarily as an interpreter.

Of the 12 tunes, 3 have already become hits, and 5 others are potent
contenders. One of these challengers is "O Gurufim Do Cabana."
The tile, reflecting a play on the slang word bacana, translates
in favela-speak to "Wake of the Playboy." A samba medley
with an unstoppable groove and burning cavaquinho, it is an ode
to the ginga malandra and to the characteristic flair of
the people living in Rio’s favelas (shanty towns).

The next in line for hit status is the only track that was co-written
by Martinho, "Por Favor Me Ajude" (Please Help Me). This tune
will remind his fans of past hits like "Pequeno Burguês"
(A Little Bourgeois), the romantic mockery from the 60’s in which Martinho
made fun of the vestibular (university placement exam) and exhibited
his wit and talent for wry interpretations.

The poignantly beautiful poetry of Toninho Geraes, coupled with Rildo
Hora’s passionate piano and string arrangement on "Mulheres"
(Women), assured a success from the beginning. The tunes syncopated cavaquinho,
violão, and bateria accentuate its formal symmetry
while the interplay between tension-building patterns and sudden releases
reinforce the structure and transports the listener.

After the success of "Mulheres" the disc’s title track, "Tá
Delícia, Tá Gostoso" climbed the charts. Its suggestive
lyrics, seductive refrain, impressive backing vocals, and enticing string
arrangement by Jorjão Carvalho made it an immediate hit.

Although "Devagar, Devagarinho" (Slowly, Very Slowly) cries
for a whisper of cuíca, its impromptu feel and textual richness
overshadow this omission. With my foot tapping on automatic pilot to the
same staccato cavaquinho and riveting surdo as "Mulheres,"
it became immediately obvious why the whole project triggered into an explosive
success when this track started getting air-play.

These first three hits from Tá Delícia, Tá Gostoso
are almost confessional summaries that catalog the changes in Martinho’s
personal life. Fans tend to see artists as magical figures with envious
lives. In reality, it is not like this. Like most sambistas, Martinho,
comes from humble origins and has been vulnerable to exploitation. He was
raised in the favela and lived among its crooks and drug dealers.
For each one of his discs that was sold, Martinho saw his small percentage
only months after the release. When his first record became a hit, he was
the most famous penniless person in Brazil.

Today, with wide recognition, promoters still believe he deserves prestige
and respect, but not the large sums of money pop artists receive. Thus,
he understood what was happening when Paulinho da Viola, the godfather
of his daughter, was slighted at the 1995 New Year’s Eve tribute to Tom
Jobim; an artist’s fee is based on his current status on the sales charts.
Sales of traditional samba were down, and Paulinho hadn’t recorded in years.

Another misconception for many is that composers whose enredos
are chosen for Carnaval become rich. There are, in fact, many composers
who have had 5 to 10 winning samba-enredos whose lives were
no better afterwards. The hard life of the sambista amplified Martinho’s
drinking. He was involved in a number of automobile accidents. The largest
accident fractured his skull, his legs, and two fingers on his right hand.
Afterwards, he was interned in an alcohol detoxication clinic. His marriage
to a beautiful woman named Clediomar (33 years his junior) and the birth
of their son, Preto, may have been the catalyst that convinced Martinho
it was time to get serious, curb his drinking, and start focusing on what
was important.

With his head in order, he worked extremely hard last year to insure
the new disc’s success. Traveling all over Brazil to dozens of TV and radio
stations, giving interviews and a marathon of shows, Martinho promoted
the project. He performed entire shows without repeating a single type
of samba, launching into samba-choro, samba-canção,
samba de partido alto, samba de
terreiro, samba-enredo, sambalanço,
samba de breque… He carried on with the energy of
a musician just beginning his career. The success of Tá Delícia,
Tá Gostoso is for Martinho no secret. Coming back to the front
line of media attention was the most trying period of his entire career.

Today he thanks God that his life has entered a new era, and he is looking
forward to spending time with his family, a family that literally plays
together. Additional plans include recording with João Bosco and
the realization of a dream that has been on the back burner for years,
the opening of a venue that will be dedicated to the performance of first
rate music and plays alternatively, the Teatro Martinho da Vila, in his
beloved Vila Isabel. Martinho joined this lower income neighborhood’s escola
de samba over 30 years ago and even modified his name to
express his allegiance.

After pulling off his success as an interpreter, Martinho recently saw
another shining facet of success when Simone recorded an entire disc of
his compositions on her Polygram/Mercury release Café com Leite.
For those who missed the beautiful duet "Ex Amor" with Simone
and Martinho that appeared on Polygram’s samba compilation Casa de Samba
last year, here is an even better opportunity to grab a copy of this
title as well as 11 other classic Martinho compositions. Simone’s tribute
to Martinho, also produced by Rildo Hora, has already sold over 500 thousand
copies and was chosen by readers of the music magazine Musicalidade
as the best new release of 1997.

Probably the only setback for Martinho last year was the defeat of his
samba-enredo for his escola de samba,
Vila Isabel. The episode generated a controversy involving the directors
of the escola (those who approve the enredos and choose the
best sambas submitted) and the drug traffickers. Anytime a composer loses,
he experiences the typical sour grapes symptoms. He refuses to go to Carnaval
and complains that the chosen samba is trash. As Carnaval nears, however,
the same composer swallows his pride and concedes that his escola’s
samba is the best.

Over time, Martinho has won more than he has lost with Vila Isabel.
In fact, almost every time Martinho entered an enredo, he has won.
Some of his sambas lost, but they are eternal: "Iemanjá Desperta"
(Goddess of the Waters Wakes Up), "Tribo dos Carajás"
(Tribe of the Carajá Indians), and "Minha Vida Tá Legal"
(My Life is Okay). Next year the composer of such classic Carnaval pieces
as "Carnaval de Ilusões" (Carnaval of Illusions), "Sonho
de Um Sonho" (Dream of a Dream), and "Raízes" (Roots),
and who started the trend toward more concise and colloquial lyrics in
samba-enredos, promises to be on the floats of the escola
dear to his heart.

At 58 years old, with 29 discs to his credit, and a prestigious record
of service to the Black movement and to Brazilian music, Martinho José
Ferreira doesn’t appear to regret the decision he made after his release
from the army in 1971 to dedicate himself to an artistic career. His hits
came one after the other. In 1991 he was recognized with the Prêmio
Shell award. And while the names of some of his colleagues dropped from
the charts, the name Martinho da Vila never left the front line of samba
artists, demonstrating it has enough strength to bear any low tide in the
market. Today people are talking about Martinho’s rediscovery. It’s a good
day for samba to push the Raça Negras to a different market niche.

Mulheres

Toninho Geraes

Já tive mulheres de todas as cores

De várias idades, de muitos amores

Com umas até certo tempo fiquei

Pra outras apenas um pouco me dei

Já tive mulheres do tipo atrevida

Do tipo acanhada, do tipo vivida

Casada, carente, solteira, feliz

Já tive donzela e até meretriz

Mulheres cabeça e desequilibradas

Mulheres confusas, de guerra e de paz

Mas nenhuma delas me faz tão feliz

Como você me faz

Procurei em todas as mulheres a felicidade

Mas eu não encontrei e fiquei na saudade

Foi começando bem, mas tudo teve um fim

Você é o sol da minha vida, a minha vontade

Você não é mentira, você é verdade

É tudo que um dia eu sonhei pra mim

Women

I’ve already had women of all colors

Of various ages, of many loves

With some I stayed for a while

For others I gave just a little

I’ve had very arrogant women

And others very shy of experience

Married, poor, single, happy

I’ve had a virgin and even a prostitute

Women with good sense and flaky women

Confused women, women of war and peace

But none of them made me as happy

As you do

I looked for happiness with all the women

But I couldn’t find it and kept longing for it

Everything started well but everything had an end

You are the sun of my life, my desire

You are not a lie, you are the truth

(You) are everything that I dreamed for one day

Tá Delícia, Tá Gostoso

Zé Catimba and Alceu Maia

Assim como adolescente

O cupido me pegou

Me apaixonei por seu beijo

Sem você eu nada sou

Vem me salvar boca a boca

tô morrendo de amar

Vem fazer amor bonito

Vem pra se deliciar

Você é fêmea no cio

Deixa seu macho dengoso

Quando diz no meu ouvido

Tá delícia, tá gostoso

Tá, tá, tá

Tá delícia, tá gostoso

É amor é paixão

É você a dona do meu coração

It’s delicious, It’s tasty

As an adolescent

Cupid shot me

I feel in love because of your kiss

Without you I’m nothing

Come to save me mouth to mouth

I’m dying of love

Come make beautiful love

Come to please me

You are a bitch in heat

Let go and make your man relax

When you tell me in my ears

It’s delicious, it’s tasty

It is, it is, it is

It’s delicious, it’s tasty

It is love, it is passion

It is you the owner of my heart

Devagar, Devagarinho

Eraldo Divagar

É devagar, é devagar

É devagar, é devagar, devagarinho

Devagarinho

É que a gente chega lá

Se você não acredita

Você pode tropeçar

E tropeçando

O seu dedo se arrebenta

Com certeza não se agüenta

E vai xingar

É devagar, é devagar

É devagar, é devagar, devagarinho

Eu conheci um cara

Que queria o mundo abarcar

Mas de repente

Deu com a cara no asfalto

Se virou, olhou pro alto

Com vontade de chorar

É devagar, é devagar

É devagar, é devagar, devagarinho

Sempre me deram a fama

De ser muito devagar

E desse jeito

Vou driblando os espinhos

Vou seguindo o meu caminho

Sei aonde vou chegar

Slow, Very slow

Slow, slow

Slow, slow, very slow

Very slowly, we get there

If you don’t believe that

You will trip

And tripping

You’ll stub your toe

And surely you won’t put up with that

And you’re going to swear

Slow, slow

Slow, slow, very slow

I met a guy

Who wanted to do everything in the world

But suddenly

He fell on his face

He turned, eyes to the heights

And felt like crying

Slow, slow

Slow, slow, very slow

I was always known

As being very slow

And in this way

I hurdled life’s thorns

I’m following my own path

I know where I’m going

Recommended Discography

Release dates have been omitted as the conversion from LP to CD modified
the issue dates.

Label………………….Title

Sony …………………..Tá Delícia, Tá Gostoso

Columbia……………. Ao Rio de Janeiro

BMG…………………. Casa de Bamba

Columbia……………. Samba do Trabalhador

Sony………………….. Vai, Meu Samba, Vai

BMG ………………….O Carnaval de Beth Carvalho e Martinho
da Vila

Sony …………………..O Canto das Lavadeiras

Sony …………………..Festa da Raça Brasileira

RCA…………………. Coração Malandro

BrazilOid …………….Batuqueiro

RCA…………………. Canta, Canta, Minha Gente

BMG …………………Acervo Especial

BMG………………… Acervo Especial 2

BMG………………… Série Aplauso

Sony…………………. Martinho da Vila

BMG………………… Tendinha

BMG………………… Samba de Enredo

Tropical Music……..Meu Samba Feliz

Bruce Gilman plays cuíca for
Mocidade Independente Los Angeles, received his MA from California Institute
of the Arts, and teaches English and ESL in Long Beach, California. You
can reach him through his E-mail: cuíca@interworld.net


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