Pure Samba

    Pure Samba

    In movies, plays, music, art, and literature, the Brazilian
    culture continues more alive than ever. Brazilians have never bought as
    many books as in recent years and there are a number of movies being made
    and released right now which deal with Brazilian historical facts and cultural
    values. New playwrights have been able to fill up theaters all over the
    country and new poets are finding out their own voice and a public to listen
    to them.
    By Brazzil Magazine

    Just when the richness and variety of samba seemed to be disappearing
    and its rhythm compromised by a thing called "swing," pure samba
    has returned. On the eve of Carnaval, Martinho da Vila, Arlindo Cruz &
    Sombrinha, Zeca Pagodinho, and Paulinho da Viola have released carefully
    produced recordings that serve as a public declaration for the integrity
    of a form that began 80 years ago with the official release of "Pelo
    Telefone" (On the Phone).

    Unique among this group of composers is Paulinho da Viola, an ambassador
    of samba, who has broken a silence in Brazil of almost eight years with
    the release of Bebadosamba (Drunk with Samba) on BMG. One of his
    most insightful projects, Bebadosamba is a manifesto for the veracity
    of samba and of Paulinho da Viola. Taking advantage of this momentous occasion,
    his former record company, EMI, decided to release Paulinho’s complete
    EMI discography including some titles recorded during the original sessions
    that did not appear on the LP configurations. The eleven (out of print
    unavailable) LPs, recorded between 1968 and 1979, were digitally remastered
    in CD format at Abbey Road Studios in England and provide the listener
    an opportunity to re-evaluate the composer’s role in the world of MPB (Brazilian
    Popular Music).

    Paulo César Batista de Faria (Paulinho da Viola) is the son of
    César Faria, the legendary choro guitar player who worked
    with Pixinguinha and Jacó do Bandolim during the period that came
    to be known as Época de Ouro (Golden Era). Paulinho was musically
    educated in his father’s circuit of traditional MPB before it became contaminated
    by importations of North American rock, blues, and jazz. In the early 1960s
    Paulinho accompanied Rio’s leading samba composers at Zicartola. The restaurant
    (operated by Cartola, the venerable composer and co-founder of the escola
    de samba Mangueira) was the center of the choro and samba scene.

    Before the end of that decade Viola had participated in three of the
    Roda de Samba recording sessions alongside eminent sambistas like
    Zé Keti and Nélson Sargento. Paulinho’s first recording as
    a featured artist, Na Madrugada (In the Dawn), was shared with his good
    friend from the old Aprendizes de Lucas samba school, Elton Medeiros. Indecisive
    on his solo debut in 1968, Paulinho used the conventional heavy strings
    and brass orchestrations so typical of the time and that nearly suffocate
    tunes like "Coisas do Mundo, Minha Nega" (Things of the World,
    My Honey), "Doce Veneno" (Sweet Venom), and "Não
    te Dói a Consciência?" (Isn’t Your Conscience Troubling
    You?) by composer Nélson Cavaquinho. Paulinho recorded "Coisas
    do Mundo, Minha Nega" for the second time on Memórias Cantando
    from 1976 in a more intimate setting.

    His third recording as a featured artist (second for EMI) in 1970 brought
    Portela’s unofficial anthem, the emblematic "Foi um Rio que Passou
    em Minha Vida" (There Was a River That Passed Through My Life) and
    other classics like "Nada de Novo" (Nothing New), "Tudo
    Se Transformou" (Everything Has Changed), and "Para Não
    Contrariar Você" (In Order Not to Contradict You).

    The recording is propelled by intense pandeiro, tamborim,
    cuíca, and ganzá rhythms, yet grounded by the infallible
    bass playing of Dininho (son of Dino Sete Cordas). With Foi um Rio Que
    Passou em Minha Vida, Paulinho established his intimate, clear, almost
    minimalistic ensemble sonority and solidified his partnership with pianist
    Cristóvão Bastos. During the military dictatorship (1964-85)
    Paulinho transferred the heart of samba into new formats and experimented
    with diverse combinations in order to protest the political situation of
    the country. Through humor and acute social sensibility, he described the
    mores of the country and created titles that became standards of the repertoire.
    Paulinho spoke of a marginal life with skill and sensitivity:

    Se o homem nasceu bom

    E bom não se conservou

    A culpa é da sociedade

    Que o transformou

    If the man was born good

    And turns bad

    The blame is on the society

    That changed him

    Accepting his role as a chronologist, Paulinho wrote lyrics that the
    public understood but whose metaphors eluded the censors. Subordinating
    the vocabulary of the heart while respecting the origins of samba and choro,
    he tickled the dictatorship between the lines of "Meu Novo Sapato"
    (My New Shoe) and "Reclamação" (Complaint). He
    embraced the concept of ecology in the explicit samba enredo "Amor
    à Natureza." And with the vision of a historian, he recovered
    lost pearls by building a virtual anthology of the masters of MPB from
    Noel Rosa to Cartola:


    "Acontece" (It Happens)

    "Amor Proibido" (Forbidden Love)

    "Vai Amigo" (Go My Friend)

    "Não Quero Mais Amar a Ninguém" (I Don’t Want
    to Love Anybody Else)

    Nélson Cavaquinho:

    "Depois da Vida" (After Life)

    "Não te Dói a Consciência?" (Isn’t Your
    Conscience Troubling You?)

    "Duas Horas da Manhã" (Two O’clock in the Morning)

    Noel Rosa:

    "Pra Que Mentir" (Why Should You Lie)


    "Filosofia do Samba" (Philosophy of the Samba)

    "Batuqueiro" (Drummer)

    Nelson Sargento:

    "Minha Vez de Sorrir" (My Time to Smile)


    "Mudei de Opinião" (I Changed My Opinion)

    Zé Keti:

    "O Meu Pecado" (My Sin)


    "Cinco Companheiros" (Five Friends)

    "Cuidado Colega" (Careful My Friend)

    Pixinguinha and Benedito Lacerda:

    "Segura Ele" (Hold Him)

    Ary Barroso:

    "Chorando" (Crying)

    Concerned with the orthodoxy of the samba, with Carnaval becoming a
    commercialized enterprise, and with the escolas selecting their
    Carnaval themes by the pressure from drug lords; Paulinho left Portela
    around 1974 to create the escola Quilombo. (Quilombo is now extinct;
    Paulinho returned to Portela in 1996.) At that time he wrote "Argumento":

    Tá legal

    Eu aceito o argumento

    Mas não me altere

    O samba tanto assim

    It’s okay

    I accept the argument

    But don’t alter my

    Samba so much

    Nonetheless, Paulinho’s respect for tradition should not be confused
    with nostalgia for past times. His creativity and musical concept make
    him, above all else, a rejuvenator of traditional Brazilian music. Who
    isn’t familiar with "Sinal Fechado" (Red Light)? Written in 1969
    when military repression was at its height, it became the symbol of an
    era and winner of TV Record’s music festival. "Roendo as Unhas"
    (Nail Biting), a samba where harmonies are resolved in unusual, unexpected
    ways, was also written when Brazil was under military rule and mirrored
    a time when no one trusted his neighbor, when everyone was left alone with
    his worries in a society where warm and personal communication has always
    been an integral part of daily life.

    These tunes, full of musical daring and radical innovations, were recorded
    again in 1993 when Paulinho returned to the studios after a 4 year voluntary
    absence to record some of his biggest hits on Samba e Choro Negro.
    The CD was released by the World Network label in Europe, Japan, and the
    United States, but not in Brazil.

    Technicians in the Impressão Digital Studios were desperate when
    they discovered how Paulinho wanted to record this CD. Rather than laying
    one track on top of another, Paulinho decided to do what he hadn’t done
    since those early sessions at EMI when he had free use of the studio and
    could bring ideas and musicians together informally; he opted to record
    like a live performance. At the request of BMG, Paulinho did not record
    new material.

    Samba e Choro Negro took 4 days to record and is a sort of "live
    greatest hits." Paulinho’s usual ensemble was on board for the date:
    Celsinho Silva, pandeiro ganzá; César Faria (his father),
    guitar; Dininho, bass; Cristóvão Bastos, piano; Cabelinho,
    reco-reco, tamborim, surdo, ganzá; Mestre
    Marçal, cuíca; Hércules, drums; Amélia
    Rabello, vocals. These are players who have worked with him for years and
    know every nuance of his compositions. Fortunately, the singular nature
    of the project made his concept possible as both the performance and recording
    quality is exemplary.

    Recently Paulinho clarified that his absence from the studio had been
    a productive time and had nothing to do with an artistic crisis. After
    recording Eu Canto Samba in 1989, he gave many performances. In
    São Paulo he shared the stage with Cristóvão Bastos
    and Joel Nascimento in a spectacular show that was awarded a prize for
    the best performance of 1995 by the São Paulo Association of Art
    Critics. He also wrote new works with his old partner Élton Medeiros.
    But he was plagued by a string of personal disasters: a large tree falling
    on his home, an armed assault on his wife and children, the flood in January
    1996, and the fiasco surrounding the 1995 New Year’s Eve show, an instance
    where both samba and Paulinho were seen as victims.

    The New Year’s Eve homage to Tom Jobim was a performance for which Caetano
    Veloso, Chico Buarque, Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, and Milton Nascimento each
    received $100,000; Paulinho received $35,000. On January 1, 1996, newspapers
    and magazines across Brazil focused on the incident, creating misunderstandings
    and severing friendships. When reports came out that Paulinho had received
    "a little less" than the other artists, he did not demand equal
    payment, nor did he discuss the issue with the parties responsible. His
    only wish was to establish the truth.

    The Imposto de Renda (Income Tax) people wanted to know exactly how
    much he had received, and Paulinho made it clear publicly that he did not
    receive "a little less." Accounts of a trial to discover exactly
    what had happened started turning up in press reports and interviews with
    the different sides and created a tremendous amount of confusion with Paulinho
    at the center. The other artists became uneasy about the amounts they had
    received and about how it appeared to their fans. Some of them blamed Paulinho
    for their anxiety.

    Nevertheless, Paulinho’s return to the studio was met with unanimous
    applause by the music world. After all, Paulinho da Viola is a watershed,
    a musician who can sense a mood more accurately than most, capture it,
    divine its very essence, and return it to the public in musical form with
    uncanny emotional expression. The sambista is a unique personality
    in Brazilian music who has never worried about releasing CD’s every two
    years to keep up the momentum of his career like many of his colleagues.
    He doesn’t promote his recordings with national tours, nor does he encourage
    inflated ad campaigns prior to a new release. Paulinho da Viola only records
    when he finds that he has something interesting to say in the form of samba.
    And this is the reason each of his recordings has become a "classic."
    Fortunately his record company acquiesces because Bebadosamba stands
    out from the others as a tribute to the illustrious sambistas of
    the past.

    Sprinkled with new ideas and a variety of recurring themes, Bebadosamba
    presents a history of pure samba to a new generation just when the richness
    and variety of the genre seemed to be disappearing. Radical in an era when
    the market has been dominated by groups that sing ballads in samba rhythm,
    albeit with less syncopation and with keyboards supplying the harmony,
    Paulinho holds to the traditional instruments of samba: cavaquinho,
    violão, cuíca, ganzá, agogô,
    pandeiro, and tamborim and crafts the kind of samba that
    was mainstream before the appearance of pagode in the early 1980’s,
    a subtle samba with intricate harmony.

    Few can remember the sambistas from the past that continue to
    inspire Paulinho da Viola. But the title track, "Bebadosamba,"
    offers an evocation, a rhythmic intoning of reverence for some of the immortal
    ones: Cartola, Candeia (co-founder with Paulinho da Viola of the escola
    Quilombo), Nélson Cavaquinho, Pixinguinha, and Donga, among
    others who helped define Brazilian music and Paulinho’s peerless sound.
    It begins with a poetic dialogue between Paulinho and Boca. The lyrics
    spoken like a lament, almost whispered and without melody give you shivers:

    E eu, Boca, como sempre perdido,

    Bêbado de samba e outros sonhos

    Choro a lágrima comum,

    Que todos choram

    And I, Boca, as usual lost,

    Drunk with samba and other dreams

    Cry a common tear

    That everyone cries

    The opening track, "Quando o Samba Chama" (When the Samba
    Calls), explains Paulinho’s decision to be silent for so long and reveals
    how he can turn bad luck into fodder for poetry:

    Se algum pensamento que vem não seduz

    O poeta declina

    Daquilo que ele não sente

    E o silêncio é o peso que ele conduz.

    If some thought that comes doesn’t seduce

    The poet declines

    From that which he does not feel

    And the silence is the weight that he bears.

    The beautiful "Dama de Espadas" (Queen of Spades), introduced
    by a piano part reminiscent of French composer Erik Satie, validates Paulinho
    as one of the rare composers of samba who can innovate without loosing
    the essential characteristics of the form. To demonstrate the difference
    between today’s samba enredo and the old exaltations to the escolas
    de samba, Paulinho recorded "O Ideal É Competir" (The
    Ideal Is to Compete), with the "Old Guard" of the Portela escola
    furnishing a warmth unusual for a studio session. The ensemble’s exemplary
    performance of "É Difícil Viver Assim" (It’s Hard
    to Live This Way) in the old style of backyard samba etches the tune’s
    refrain and tamborim rhythm into your memory and demands one more

    There are also some surprises in the repertoire, like the ethereal "Alento"
    with the reflective lyrics and music of Paulo César Pinheiro and
    the partnership of Paulinho and Ferreira Gullar on "Solução
    de Vida" (Solution in Life), an ideological review of life, full of
    syncopation and featuring the flawless flute work of Aquarela Carioca’s
    Mário Sève. And the duo of Paulinho and Élton Medeiros,
    which began more than 30 years ago, is back with "Ame" (Love),
    a tune offering some good advice and punctuated by a crack horn section
    guaranteed to have you on your feet.

    Recalling a year when the composer was jolted by setbacks, from the
    episode at the New Year’s Eve show to the floods in Rio, there is an excess
    of tunes having disillusioned and aquatic metaphors like "Mar Grande"
    (Great Sea) written by Paulinho and Sérgio Natureza; "Timoneiro"
    (Helmsman) with lyrics by Hermínio Bello de Carvalho; and "Novos
    Rumos" (New Routes), an old hit by Orlando Porto and Rochinha originally
    recorded in the 1950’s by Sílvio Caldas:

    Todos os anos vividos

    São portos perdidos

    Que eu deixo pra trás

    All the years lived

    Are lost harbors

    That I leave behind

    The lyrics and melody of "Mar Grande" confirm how natural
    it is for Paulinho da Viola to create a timeless sound that is influenced
    more by his esthetic convictions than by waves that agitate the recording
    industry. "Mar Grande" is a slow, floating composition co-arranged
    by Cristóvão Bastos:

    Não quero mar de marola

    Das praias da moda

    Na rebentação

    I don’t want a calm sea

    Folding up on the sand

    Of the fashionable beaches

    Although it seems the public couldn’t care less that the language of
    samba has become distorted and jeopardized by a growing number of popular
    artists, it is hard to ignore the return of a musician who for over three
    decades has eloquently captured the political and social conditions of
    his time and expanded the limits of samba without disfiguring its essence.
    Paulinho da Viola has come back to enchant and to demonstrate it is impossible
    to talk about samba as a form frozen in time.



    Paulinho da Viola and Élton Medeiros


    Seja como for

    Sem medo de sofrer

    Pintou desilusão

    Não tenha medo não

    O tempo poderá lhe dizer

    Que tudo

    Traz alguma dor

    E o bem de revelar

    Que tal felicidade

    Sempre tão fugaz

    A gente tem que conquistar

    Por que se negar

    Com tanto querer

    Por que não se dar

    Por quê?

    Por que recusar

    A luz em você

    Deixar pra depois

    Chorar . . . pra quê?



    Whatever it is

    Without fear of suffering

    If disillusion appears

    Don’t be afraid

    Time will tell you

    That everything

    Brings pain

    And is kind to reveal

    That happiness

    Is always fleeting

    We have to conquer that.

    Why do you deny yourself

    With so much desire

    Why don’t you give yourself


    Why do you refuse

    The light in you

    And leave for tomorrow

    Cry . . . What for?

    O Ideal É Competir

    Candeia and Casquinha

    Quando a Portela chegou

    A platéia vibrou de emoção

    Suas pastoras vaidosas

    Defendiam orgulhosas

    O seu pavilhão


    A luta é teu ideal

    O que se passou, passou

    Não te podem deter

    Teu destino é lutar e vencer

    Oh! minha Portela

    Por ti darei minha vida

    Oh! Portela querida

    És tu quem levas a alegria

    Para milhares de fãs

    És considerada, sem vaidade,

    Na cidade

    Como super campeã das campeãs

    Eu quisera ter agora

    A juventude de outrora

    Idade de encantos mil

    Pra trilhar contigo passo a passo

    No sucesso ou no fracasso

    Pela glória do samba do Brasil

    The Ideal Is to Compete

    When Portela comes

    The crowd vibrates with emotion

    Your majestic dancers

    Proudly defend

    Your flag


    Fighting is you ideal

    What happens, happens

    They cannot detain you

    Your destiny is to fight and win

    Oh! my Portela

    For you I’d give my life

    Oh! Portela my dear

    You are the one who brings happiness

    To millions of fans

    You are considerate, without vanity,

    In the city

    Like a super champion among champions

    I would like to have now

    The youth of other times

    Age of a thousand enchantments

    To march with you step by step

    In your success or your failure

    For the glory of samba of Brazil

    Novos Rumos

    Rochinha and Orlando Porto

    Vou imprimir novos rumos

    Ao barco agitado

    Que foi minha vida

    Fiz minhas velas ao mar

    Disse adeus sem chorar

    E estou de partida

    Todo os anos vividos

    São portos perdidos

    Que eu deixo pra trás

    Quero viver diferente

    Que a sorte da gente

    É a gente que faz

    Quando a vida nos cansa

    E se perde a esperança

    O melhor é partir

    Ir procurar outros mares

    Onde outros olhares

    Nos façam sorrir

    Levo no meu coração

    Uma grande lição

    Que contigo aprendi

    Tu me ensinaste em verdade

    Que a felicidade

    Está longe de ti

    New Routes

    I’m going to chart new routes

    For the rocking ship

    That was my life

    I raised my sails on the sea

    I said good by without crying

    And I am leaving

    All the years lived

    Are lost harbors

    That I leave behind

    I want to live differently

    Our destiny

    Is what we do

    When we are tired of living

    We loose hope

    It is better to leave

    And look for new seas

    Where other sights

    Make us smile

    I take into my heart

    A great lesson

    That I learned with you

    You taught me the truth

    That happiness

    Is far from you


    Paulo César Pinheiro

    Violão esquecido num canto é silêncio

    Coração encolhido no peito é desprezo

    Solidão hospedada no leito é ausência

    A paixão refletida num pranto, ai, é tristeza

    Um olhar espiando o vazio é lembrança

    Um desejo trazido no vento é saudade

    Um desvio na curva do tempo é distância

    E um poeta que acaba vadio, ai, é destino

    A vida da gente é mistério

    A estrada do tempo é segredo

    O sonho perdido é espelho

    O alento de tudo é canção

    O fio do enredo é mentira

    A história do mundo é brinquedo

    O verso do samba é conselho

    E tudo o que eu disse é ilusão


    A guitar forgotten in a corner is silence

    A shrunken heart in my chest is disdain

    Solitude housed in a bed is absence

    Passion reflected in a single tear, ah, this is sadness

    Staring at the emptiness is remembering

    A wish brought on the wind is longing

    A detour in the curve of time is distance

    And a poet that is lazy, ah, is destiny

    Our life is a mystery

    The road of time is a secrete

    The dream lost is a mirror

    The comfort of everything is song

    The thread of the plot is a lie

    The history of the world is a toy

    The verse of a samba is advice

    And everything that I said is an illusion


    1996 Bebadosamba BMG

    1996 Geração Samba WEA (a compilation)

    1993 Samba E Choro Negro World Network

    1989 Eu Canto Samba RCA

    1983 Prisma Luminoso WEA

    1982 A Toda Hora Rola uma Estória WEA

    1981 Paulinho da Viola WEA

    1979 Zumbido EMI

    1978 Paulinho da Viola EMI

    1976 Memórias Chorando EMI

    1976 Memórias Cantando EMI

    1975 Amor à Natureza EMI

    1973 Nervos de Aço EMI

    1972 Dança da Solidão EMI

    1971 Paulinho da Viola EMI

    1971 Paulinho da Viola EMI

    (same year and title but different tracks)

    1970 Foi um Rio que Passou em Minha Vida EMI

    1968 Paulinho da Viola EMI

    1968 Samba na Madrugada RGE

    1967 Roda de Samba vol.3 RCA

    1966 Roda de Samba vol.2 Musidisc

    1965 Roda de Samba Musidisc

    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: cuica@interworld.net

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