Brazil’s Chansonnier par Excellence

    When it comes to composing song tunes, Marcio
    Proença is a veteran. His musical résumé stretches back to MAU (Movimento ArtÀ­stico Universitário), the student movement of
    the early 1970s whose most visible founding members were Gonzaguinha, Aldir
    Blanc, and Ivan Lins, but which eventually attracted the participation of
    numerous artists who would become the pillars of MPB.

    Marcio ProençaA gifted melodist, Proença crafts not just songs but chansons. What’s the difference? Chansons are songs for adults.

    You may have heard his boleros in the voice of Nana Caymmi: “Castelos no Ar”; “Outra Tarde”; “Marca da Paixão”; “Ví­cio de Amor.” Or “Retrato Cantado” (download the recording courtesy of MPBNet) in Aldir Blanc’s 50 Anos.

    Or “Cabrocha da Mangueira,” either with Beth Carvalho or with Leny Andrade and Romero Lubambo. Or “Pare de Me Arranhar” with Zé Luiz Mazziotti, or with Pery Ribeiro and Luiz Eça, or with Simone.

    And so it goes. His lyricists have always been the heavy hitters: Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, Aldir Blanc, Paulo Emí­lio, Ivor Lancellotti, Marco Aurélio, Wanderléa.

    During the 1980s, Proença released the LPs Marcio Proença (1981) and Eterno Diálogo (1984). Now he comes back with the delectable CD Facho de Luz, with lyrics by José Luiz Lopes.

    The songs are leisurely (several are boleros), allowing the listener to savor the bitter-sweet verses that meditate on an intensely experienced life, redolent of love and disappointment, good and bad moments.

    The sophisticated arrangements by Cristovão Bastos are a fitting complement to Proença’s caressing baritone, joined by several illustrious friends who lend extra oomph to the production.

    “Delí­rio” opens the album with a breezy bossanovista arrangement of flute (Marcelo Bernardes), piano (Bastos), guitar (Mauricio Carrilho), contrabass (Jorge Helder), and percussion (Oví­dio Brito and Don Chacal), while the singer confesses accumulated manias:

    […] Sou bem prolixo e até convexo
    Bem pouca chance pra mudar

    E assim
    Vou levando, e tenho a sensação
    Que a correr dos anos
    Vão me revelar outros complexos

    í‰ que o medo de amar
    Me faz um néscio
    Só de te ver meu corpo mexe
    E eu não consigo nem falar

    “Que Bom Seria” is a regretful rumination on a love that has gone bad, interpreted in turns by Leila Pinheiro and Proença, with accompaniment by Bastos, Nicolas Krassik (violin) and cello (Fábio Presgrave):

    […] Juro que daria uma vida toda
    Pra tirar de vez o triste desse amor
    E ficar com a parte boa que me toca
    Como os dois brincando sob o cobertor.

    Bongos and clave (Chacal) and soprano sax (Bernardes) lend an apt setting to the heartache of “Gosto de Batom”:

    […] Ando í s tontas pelo corredor
    sem saber, o que faço aonde vou
    Seu cheiro por todo lugar>
    Uma obsessão

    “Um Pouco Mais Canção” draws on the contrasting tastes and demeanors of two lovers. The theme is reminiscent of “Catavento e Girassol,” although the treatment is much gentler, less confrontational:

    […] Quisera
    Que você fosse outra
    Um pouco menos rock
    Um pouco mais canção

    Guinga arranged the song for voice and guitar. He does the playing and takes turns singing with Proença, in a reedy tenor that rounds out the latter’s deeper voice.

    “Bons Momentos” is a bolero that seems to have been tailor-made for Nana Caymmi:

    […] Velar o que já sepultou
    Não tem cabimento
    Te apraz lembrar o que passou
    Apontar os erros

    Eu já sei não vais me perdoar
    Vai doer, se eu te telefonar
    A mágoa é um veneno
    Afasta do teu coração

    Interpreting it here, Simone Guimarães reveals herself to be a perfect torch singer. Her on-the-verge-of-tears rendition is beautifully balanced by Proença’s smooth vocals, Bastos’ syncopated piano, and Leandro Almeida’s muted trumpet. Listen to an excerpt.

    If “Bons Momentos” is a Nana Caymmi vehicle, “Já Foi, Mas Volta” would fit perfectly into Pery Ribeiro’s repertoire. João Lyra’s fine guitar joins the piano, bass, and ganzá arrangement.

    In contrast with the final closure of “Bons Momentos,” “Já Foi, Mas Volta” leaves open an avenue of hope:

    […] Como um cometa vazou
    Sem dar tempo de me aproximar
    Fica a certeza você
    Já foi mas volta

    “Marcas do Passado” is a two-in-one track: the first round is sung by Proença with Guinga on guitar, the second by Ivor Lancellotti with Marquinho Roberto on guitar.

    The vocal renditions are different in character, and so are the accompaniments: the first slow and contemplative, the second more agitated.

    “Um Mal de Amor” is a song of short phrases, a dialog between voice and piano. The subject is evident from the title, but the lyrics go deeper than the expected dor de cotovelo:

    […] Pode alguém revelar seus segredos,
    se habitam outros lá
    Pode alguém navegar mar aberto,
    sem prever o mar

    “Avassalador” is an occasion for the lyricist José Luis Lopes to sing. It’s impressive how many of Brazil’s lyricists””very few of whom are trained vocalists””acquit themselves well while delivering a song.

    This phenomeon is on display both in “Avassalador” and in “í‰ Bom, Mas í‰ Ruim,” where Paulo Cesar Pinheiro takes wistful turns with Proença to the strains of Bastos’ equally wistful solo piano. Listen to an excerpt.

    Eu queria essa música com letra do Aldir
    Eu queria essa música com jeito do Jobim
    Eu queria cantar como canta o Cauby
    í‰ o modo dela, meio donzela, me faz sentir assim
    Eu queria o Paulinho Pinheiro por aqui
    Eu queria essa música com um pouco do Ary
    E o Guinga tocando um bolero só pra mim

    Sorri pra ela
    Sofrer por ela
    í‰ bom, mas é ruim

    “Cilada Fatal” contains the phrase that gave title to the disc and distills the emotions given repeated expression in it:

    Sob um facho de luz
    Salpicado de azul
    Me ungiu com o olhar

    De uma cigana que lê
    Parecendo um ser imortal

    Me aliciando falou
    Com a certeza de quem vence o mal

    Mensageira da dor
    Traiçoeira, armou
    A cilada fatal

    Pra conquistar meu amor
    Destilou seu veneno letal

    Fez implodir meu castelo de sonhos
    Num lance final

    Já não me importa mais
    Sua opinião
    í‰ bem melhor ouvir, a voz da razão
    Não adianta mais, chorar e nem pedir perdão

    Agora a tarde cai
    Fica a sensação
    Que já não manda mais, no meu coração
    Hoje eu já sou capaz, de perceber sua intenção

    But there’s no need to despair, for the album ends on a triumphant note with the rousing samba “Atitude,” to which Beth Carvalho lends her unmistakable touch.

    Following a deceptively calm beginning featuring Proença’s voice with piano and bass, a cuí­ca heralds a change in mood and tempo.

    Beth takes over with an exuberant conjunto de samba, letting us know in no uncertain terms that there’s more to life than quiet resignation:

    […] Quem sabe, guarda em silêncio quem sangrou
    Doa o tapete a quem puxou
    Canta que o canto espanta a dor.

    Listening to Marcio Proença, you’ll want to join in the singing.

    Marcio Proença: Facho de Luz
    (Niterói Discos ND CD 106; 2004) 52:31 min.

    All songs by Marcio Proença & José Luiz Lopes
    Arrangements by Cristovão Bastos
    Produced by João Carlos Carino

    01. Delí­rio
    02. Que Bom Seria
    03. Gosto de Batom
    04. Um Pouco Mais Canção
    05. Bons Momentos
    06. Já Foi, Mas Volta
    07. Marcas do Passado
    08. Um Mal de Amor
    09. Avassalador
    10. í‰ Bom, Mas í‰ Ruim
    11. Cilada Fatal
    12. Atitude

    You can read more about Brazilian music and culture at Daniella Thompson on Brazil here:


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