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Per RobF's request, I wanted to share a little bit about my all-time favorite music. Instead of typing everything out from scratch, I remembered that I once wrote an email to a student a while ago detailing some of the bossa-nova movement's early developments, including some album recommendations.
"...the first bossa-nova album was probably Canção do Amor Demais (1958) by Elizete Cardoso. It has a very distinct, decidedly different sound as compared to later bossa-nova albums -- more orchestral and saccharine perhaps, with the rhythms that the genre is known for not quite as overt as they would be later. What is clear in this album is the compositional voice of Antonio Carlos Jobim, whose contribution to the development of Brazilian music (and later, jazz in general) cannot be overstated. And João Gilberto is here as well, contributing his understated guitar harmonies. His debut album, Chega de Saudade, came out a year later and again highlighted many of Jobim's compositions. What was becoming crystalized around this time was the sense of community that would eventually make this into a movement (and, peripherally, contributed also to the emergence of a somewhat parallel movement called tropicália that came about in the late 60s, with folks like Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Gal Costa starting their artistic journey here). Some examples of beautiful collaborations are Jobim with the poet Vinicius de Moraes, who wrote many of the lyrics for Jobim's songs. There was also the guitarist Baden Powell who became famous for his sambas and jazz crossovers who also collaborated with Vinicius for many years, notably on an album from the mid 60s called Os Afro-Sambas that highlighted the African influence underlying some subgenres of Brazilian music.
Here is a list of albums you can start with, the ones I mentioned above as well as some additional ones:
Canção do Amor Demais (1958) - Elizete Cardoso Chega de Saudade (1959) - João Gilberto Getz/Gilberto (1964) - João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, and Stan Getz Os Afro-Sambas (1966) - Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes Wave (1967) - Antonio Carlos Jobim Tristeza on Guitar (1967) - Baden Powell Domingo (1967) - Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa Stone Flower (1970) - Antonio Carlos Jobim Clube Da Esquina (1972) - Milton Nascimento Elis & Tom (1974) - Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina (in my opinion the best album of all time, seriously not a single unnecessary note on this record) Amoroso (1977) - João Gilberto"
Some of my favorite artists not listed above include...
Chico Buarque: famous of his own accord for his songwriting skills and iconic voice, but also for his collaborations with Jobim that resulted in some truly stunning compositions like "Retrato em Branco e Preto," "Sabia," "Pois E," etc; check out my favorite rendition of his famous "O Que Sera," performed as a duet with Milton Nascimento:
Edu Lobo: same as above, great song-writer ("Reza," "Casa Forte," "Toada") and also some great collaborations with Jobim et al (the album "Edu & Tom" comes to mind)
Egberto Gismonti: a supremely talented guitarist, pianist, and composer, the double-album "Sanfona" is incredible not just for the first part's brilliant and cohesive ensemble work, but for laying out how Gismonti so tastefully subsumed a variety of influences with his home country's folklore, perhaps most evident in the second part's solo guitar work. Also highly recommend the album "Circense," which in some ways inspired my own circus-influenced album "Masquerade." The piece "Palhaco" never fails to make me cry!
Hermeto Pascoal: known as "O Bruxo" ("the Wizard"), Hermeto is someone who defies explanation. He's a multi-instrumentalist who has played everything from more conventional instruments like piano and saxophone to tea kettles, pigs, and even his own beard. The analogous artist in the Western jazz world who comes to mind is Rahsaan Roland Kirk -- similarly quirky and tastefully avant-garde. Specifically check out the albums "Slaves Mass," "Zabumbe-Bum-A," and "Ao Vivo" (recorded live at Montreux in the late 70s). I cannot believe he is still touring at the age of 86!
Eliane Elias: beautiful piano work that over the years also includes vocal renditions of original compositions and popular favorites, she is a force to be reckoned with. I saw her at the Dakota earlier this year and learned that she is also a delightful and down to earth person. An unrelated aside, but when I also met her husband Marc Johnson at this gig, I couldn't muster more than "you played with Bill Evans!!" in response to which he said "Yes, I did" hahaha. Definitely check out Elias' album of Jobim instrumentals, truly wonderful arrangements.
And of course so many wonderful guitarists like Raphael Rabello, Yamandu Costa, Luiz Bonfa, Bola Sete, etc etc. And many more artists I can't think of right away. There really is no other music like Brazilian and it speaks the most to my heart out of anything. It just satisfies me on every single level -- emotionally, it's the "saudade," intellectually, I love the amazing harmonies that are so often juxtaposed with deceptively simple melodies, etc etc. I hope you enjoyed reading this post and, more importantly, check out some of the music/artists above! As you can tell, I am deeply passionate about Brazilian music, so I do hope this post inspires you to check it out. :)
Edit - one more recommendation that came to mind, the album "Casa" with Paula Morelenbaum, her husband Jacques Morelenbaum, and pianist Ryuchi Sakamoto, is one of the finest examples of Brazilian music since "Elis & Tom." Recorded in Jobim's home overlooking a stunning view of Rio, with Sakamoto actually playing on Jobim's piano, I really appreciate that they chose to highlight some lesser-known compositions in addition to favorites. Also, another example of cool, down to earth people -- at least I can speak about Jacques here, as I also met (and got a chance to play for) him when he came to Minneapolis along with Gilberto Gil and his son Bem Gil.
OK, clearly I can go on and on about this for hours/days, but I also highly recommend the movie "Where Are You, Joao Gilberto?", directed by Georges Gachot. He came through Minneapolis as part of showing/promoting the film, and it details his journey trying to locate and make contact with Joao Gilberto, who famously became a recluse for years. The film slightly misses the mark when it romanticizes what seems like pretty clear-cut mental illness into this intangible, artistic mystery, but is still a great retrospective on bossa-nova and specifically Gilberto's role in its emergence (though I believe he is often incorrectly credited as its creator when, as I mentioned above, Elizete Cardoso's album predates any other official recordings with the compositions on that record being Jobim's). The movie also features some great interviews with folks like Marcos Valle (composer most famous for "Summer Samba"), Miucha (Joao Gilberto's second wife and, funny enough, Chico Buarque's sister!), Joao Donato, etc.
Thanks for this. I’m already pretty familiar with the works of Jobim, Baden Powell, and the work Stan Getz was doing back in the early 60s with Gilberto, but I’ve not listened to the Elis and Tom album and there’s a pile of new stuff for me here. Looks like I’ll be doing some deep diving myself in the near future. I’m going to seek out the movie too. Appreciated, this is great!
I just want to reiterate how very thankful I am for this list. There’s artists on it that I’ve never heard before!
It’s a beautiful sunny day here, but cold, and I’m listening to Elis and Tom as I write this. For some reason I’m reminded of my childhood growing up in Montreal in the 60s. I’m going through the list and adding your recommendations to my streaming library. I think I’m just going to settle in for the day, make a lunch of smoked fish, bread, and cheese and spend the rest of the afternoon listening to this wonderful music.
In the same summer camp I first heard Paco/Mclaughlin etc, I learned Luis Bonfa’s Black Orpheus (morning of the carnival), and I remembered thinking at 14 years old there, “cool, I am playing jazz now!” . My father had worked with Charlie Byrd and Carlos Barbossa Lima and when he passed away I was invited to play with them at a benefit concert…very inspiring. A little later i discovered Egberto Gismonti. I agree Sanfona was an important recording, but my favorite of his is Solo….it has more depth of expression than other versions of the same pieces i have heard. Like the title says, he just plays solo piece on guitar and piano, and the results are very inspiring. Came across his daughter Bianca playing piano and writing her own stuff in addition to playing her father’s pieces and was quite impressed. Check it out, she needs more views 😂
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC
RE: Brazilian Music - The Thread (in reply to Ricardo)
In the same summer camp I first heard Paco/Mclaughlin etc, I learned Luis Bonfa’s Black Orpheus (morning of the carnival), and I remembered thinking at 14 years old there, “cool, I am playing jazz now!” . My father had worked with Charlie Byrd and Carlos Barbossa Lima and when he passed away I was invited to play with them at a benefit concert…very inspiring.
Just a couple of personal observations. I think the film "Black Opheus" ("Orfeu Negro") is one of the all-time classics. The acting is spot-on perfect and the music likewise. I never get tired of seeing that movie.
I had the great good fortune to meet Carlos Barbosa-Lima in an informal setting at Paco de Malaga's old Guitar Gallery on Connecticut Ave. in Washington, DC. It was about 15 years ago, and I was at the Guitar Gallery for a lesson from Paco. Paco was seated with Carlos (whom I did not at first recognize). Paco introduced me to Carlos, and we had a nice hour's talk, primarily about Brazil, where my wife is originally from and where Paco and his wife Ana lived for many years before moving to the US.
Carlos was in town to perform as part of the Marlow Guitar Series, named after your father, Ricardo. It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to spend some time with him.
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white, With the name of the late deceased, And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here, Who tried to hustle the East."