Jorge Ben Jor back in the USA

“I am an urban suburban poet and my beat stays the
same,” says Jorge Ben Jor one of the most enduring Brazilian pop musicians.
His old compositions have resisted the inclemency of time and he himself
has renewed constantly and successfully his repertoire.

Liana Alagemovits

“Mas Que Nada,” (Why, No Way), one of the biggest hits ever
in Brazilian pop music, was the first single release of an until then unknown
singer/composer called Jorge Duílio Ben Zabella Lima de Menezes
or Jorge Ben for short. That was just the beginning of a career still going
strong that would span three decades of successes and all the musical genres
from samba to iê-iê-iê, from rock to bossa nova,
passing through tropicalismo, jazz and reggae. He has never limited
himself to a particular style of music and has never looked down at any
musical style.

“Mas Que Nada” was recorded about 200 times around the world
and according to his author it was just to pay homage to happiness. It
was precisely this light spirit that made Jorge Ben an exceptional musician.
In 1993 he changed his name to Jorge Ben Jor but never stopped his search
for new experiences that could enrich the message of his songs. Four years
earlier he had adopted the Jorge Benjor moniker to avoid being confused
with George Benson, who once had some money deposited is his checking account
for payment of a Jorge Ben’s European tour. Despite all the rumors Ben
Jor denies that the name changes have anything to do with numerology.

Jorge was born in a slum of Madureira, a working class district in Rio,
and was raised in a section of the north side of the city. All of this
has contributed to his long time passion for the samba school Salgueiro,
which is in Tijuca, a neighborhood in the north zone of Rio. More recently,
however, he has also been close to Mangueira, another samba school. “I’m
a musical reporter,” he says. “To write my songs I read a lot
of newspapers including those from Italy, England and France.” His
lyrics are chock-full of popular expressions and terms used in the working
class-suburbs of Rio.

He has begun his singing career at the famous “Beco das Garrafas”
(Bottles’ Cul-de-Sac), a small dead-end in Copacabana where bossa nova
bloomed. The name derives from the fact that the area residents annoyed
with the noise would throw bottles at the young musicians who in the early
sixties promoted jam sessions in the neighborhood.

Some of the stories involving Ben Jor are almost hilarious. No one would
image, for example, that “Mas Que Nada” was written and recorded
for the first time during his military service. The song was an homage
to Rosinha, a friend who lived in Copacabana and who had the habit of using
this expression all the time. For some time, young Jorge wanted at all
costs to become a soccer player. He even started, as a junior, a career
at Flamengo, Rio’s most popular soccer team. Fortunately, music was the
winning choice. His lyrics would exalt, however, his life-long passion
for Flamengo.

The fact that Ben Jor’s parents were friends of Ataulfo Alves, one of
the most important Brazilian composers of all times, helped the youngster
make his mind. His father composed some Carnaval tunes, but he wanted his
son to be a lawyer and his mother dreamed for him a career as a pediatrician.
At 18, Ben Jor, the youngest of the household was given his first guitar
and he learned the first chords by himself. By then he had already spent
apart of his young life as an altar boy and singing in churches. It comes
from this period his admiration for angels. In his song “Charles Anjo
45,” which was censored by the military regime, the inspiration was
Robin Hood.

Many came to define his music as something Black and Latin. This kind
of sound could be heard, for example, in the sound track of Xica da
Silva
, a film directed by Cacá Diegues almost twenty years ago.
Ben Jor has become an internationally acclaimed musician. He had 14 records
released in France, 10 in Japan, four in Germany and four in Italy. He
made a song for Marilyn Monroe in the 80s entitled “Norma Jean”
when he was in Los Angeles at the Paramount Record Studios. He even brought
a suit — and won it — against English rock singer-songwriter Rod Stewart
whom he accused of plagiarism

Recently the Ben Jor surprised Brazil’s new generation with songs about
social awareness. In 1993, the tune “W Brazil,” inspired by one
of Rio’s slums, and a tribute to adman Washington Olivetto, came as an
opening statement. It was a national hit which indicted in a festive rhythm
the corruption of impeached president Fernando Collor de Mello.

Through radio stations but also through cult parties in the suburbs
Ben Jor has won over the heart of the urban adolescents as he had done
with their parents in the 60s. In his most recent album, Homosapiens,
the musician talks about life, other worlds and man’s evolution. He is
happy with this latest venture. “I talk about evolution of man, something
I always wanted to talk about, that is, our evolution from Australopithecus
to Homo Sapiens.” He even sings in Spanish in “Maria Luiza.”
Americans will have a taste of his talent first hand. He will be in San
Francisco and Los Angeles this month. Ben Jor will be wearing his trade
mark glasses and cap and will be playing with Banda do Zé Pretinho.


DISCOGRAPHY

Samba Esquema Novo (Philips, 1963) – It includes “Mas Que
Nada” and “Chove Chuva”

Sacundim Ben Samba (Philips, 1964)

Ben É Samba Bom (Philips, 1964)

Big Ben (Philips, 1965)

O Bidu (Artistas Unidos/Rozenblit, 1967)

Ben (Philips, 1969) – It includes “País Tropical”,
“Cadê Tereza”, “Charles Anjo 45″,”Que Pena”,

Força Bruta (Philips, 1970)

Negro É Lindo (Philips, 1971)

Ben (live) (Philips, 1972) – It includes “Taj Mahal”,
and “Fio Maravilha”.

Dez Anos Depois (Philips, 1973)

A Tábua de Esmeralda (Philips, 1974) – It includes “Os
Alquimistas Estão Chegando Os Alquimistas”

Gil & Jorge (Philips, 1975)

Jorge Ben à L’Olympia (Philips, 1975)

Solta o Pavão (Philips, 1975)

África-Brasil (Philips, 1976)

Tropical (Philips, 1977) – It includes “Chove Chuva”

A Banda do Zé Pretinho (Som Livre, 1978)

Salve Simpatia (Som Livre, 1979)

Alô, Alô, Como Vai? (Som Livre, 1980)

Ben-Vinda Amizade (Som Livre, 1981)

Dádiva (Som Livre, 1983) – Includes “Rio Babilônia”.

Sonsual (Som Livre, 1984)

Ben Brasil (Som Livre, 1986)

Benjor (Warner, 1989)

Benjor ao Vivo (Warner, 1991)

23 (Warner, 1993)

World Dance (Warner, 1995)

Homosapiens (Sony, 1995)


Mas Que Nada

Jorge Ben Jor


Oariá raiô
Obá Obá Obá

Mas que nada
Sai da minha frente

Eu quero passar
Pois o samba está animado
O que eu quero é sambar

Este samba
Que é misto de maracatu
É samba de preto velho
Samba de preto tu

Mas que nada

Um samba como esse tão legal
Você não vai querer
Que eu chegue no final


No Way

Oaria raiô

Obá Obá Obá

No way
Get out of my way
I want to move on
Because the samba is lively
All I want is to samba

This samba
That’s a mix of maracatu

It’s old black man’s samba
Black man’s samba you

No way
A samba as groovy as this
You’ll not want
That I get to the end


Chove Chuva

Jorge Ben Jor

Chove chuva
Chove sem parar (bis)

Pois eu vou fazer uma prece
Pra Deus Nosso Senhor

Pra chuva parar
De molhar o meu divino amor
Que é muito lindo
É mais que o infinito
É puro e belo
Inocente como a flor

Por favor, chuva ruim
Não molhe mais o

meu amor assim (bis)

Chove chuva
Chove sem parar (bis)

Sacundim, Sacundém
Imboró, Congá
Dombim, dombém
Agouê e Obá


It rains rain

It rains rain
It doesn’t stop raining

So I’m going to say a prayer
To God Our Lord

For the rain to stop
Wetting my divine
Who is so pretty
It’s more than infinite
It’s pure and beautiful
Innocent as a flower

Please, bad rain
Stop wetting

my love like that

It rains rain
It doesn’t stop raining

Sacundim, Sacundém
Imboró, Congá
Dombim, Dombém
Agouê and Obá


País Tropical

Jorge Ben Jor

Moro
Num país tropical
Abençoado por Deus

E bonito por natureza
(mas que beleza)
Em fevereiro (fevereiro)
Tem carnaval (tem carnaval)
Eu tenho um fusca e um violão
Sou flamengo, tenho uma nega
chamada Teresa

Sou um menino de mentalidade

mediana (pois é)
Mas assim mesmo feliz da vida
Pois eu não devo nada a ninguém
(pois é)
Pois eu sou feliz, muito feliz
comigo mesmo

Eu posso não ser um band-leader
(pois é)

Mas assim mesmo lá em casa,
todos meus amigos
Meus camaradinhas
me respeitam (pois é)
Esta é a razão da simpatia
Do poder do algo mais
e da alegria

Mó num pá tropi

Abençoá por Dê
E boni por naturê (mas qui belê)
Em feverê (em feverê)
Tem carná (tem carná)
Eu tenho um fu e um viô
Sou Flamê, tê uma nê
chamá Terê
Sou Flamê, tê uma nê
chamá Terê


Tropical Country

I live
In a tropical country
Blessed by God
And beautiful by nature

(but oh what beauty)
In February (February)
There’s Carnaval (there’s Carnaval)
I’ve got a VW bug and a guitar
I’m a Flamengo fan, I’ve got a black girl
called Teresa

I’m a young boy of average
intelligence (oh yeah)

But even so I am so happy
Because I don’t owe anything to anyone
(oh yeah)
Because I’m happy, very happy
with myself

I may not be a band-leader
(oh yeah)
But anyway, at home,

all my friends
my buddies
respect me (oh yeah)
That’s what it means being nice
That’s the power of something extra
and the joy

I live
In a tropical country

Blessed by God
And beautiful by nature
(but oh what a beauty)
In February (in February)
There’s Carnaval (There’s Carnaval)
I’ve got a VW bug and a guitar
I’m a Flamengo fan, I’ve got a black girl
called Teresa

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