Quiet Revolution

    
Quiet Revolution

    There is a sad note about both works reviewed.
    The artists in them are virtual unknowns in their
    own lands,
    no matter how highly acclaimed they
    might be and they are not alone.
    By
    Ernest Barteldes

    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 sixties—it’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 well—but 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
    Partido Novo.

    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 sixties—to 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 thing—and 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
    and feel.

    "Tempo Clássico" (Classic Times) reminds the listener of Dave Brubeck, especially for the way the drums and
    keyboard are played—the song, however, showcases Malheiro’s fine bass guitar work—also 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 Mendes—which 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 Europe—but 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 music—even though their own countryfolk are
    mostly unable to enjoy it.

    For more information on these albums, log on to
    http://www.musicrama.com 

    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
    ebarteldes@yahoo.com

     

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