Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rare Forró Documentary in English & Portuguese - Luiz Gonzaga, Azulão & Jackson Do Pandeiro

Thanks to Fabio Nettekoven, I was lucky enough to snag a short video about forró from a Brazilian music documentary that originally aired on the BBC 4, featuring Luiz Gonzaga from later life, Azulão and Jackson do Pandeiro, along with interviews with Siba, Azulão, DJ Dolores and Paulo Andre Pires. They do a pretty good job capturing the setting and describing the meaning of forró to the people of the Northeast.  

Siba says that Luiz Gonzaga is like Bob Marley. I find this analogy problematic. One, Bob Marley was an international superstar who carried the sound of reggae to a mainstream audience in multiple countries. Although Gonzaga was a massive star and cultural icon in Brazil, forró has never reached an international mainstream audience. Of all of the interviewees, Paulo Andre Pires' observations are the most accurate. If anything, Carmen Miranda is more like Bob Marley. They both delivered the cleanest, poppiest versions of their artforms, reggae and samba, to the rest of the world. They both spoke English. Luiz Gonzaga did not. Two, Luiz Gonzaga is credited for creating the genres of baião and forró. Gonzaga created the forró group combo: triangle, accordion, vocals and zabumba. Bob Marley did not invent reggae or the type of band to play it. He only popularized it. That is not to diminish Marley's or Carmen Miranda's contributions, but Luiz Gonzaga almost single-handedly invented their genre of music that is still popular 70 years after he first appeared on the radio. Like I said in my first post on this blog back in 2012 (I might have lifted this from someone, but I don't know who): In terms of influence, Luiz Gonzaga is to Brazil like Alan Lomax, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly are combined in the US. Even my analogy is flawed. 

The other piece that is missing from this documentary is how many other artists there are who have made great and influential recordings other than Gonzaga and Jackson. Azulão, for example, is an accomplished artist in his own right, with a sizable catalog of recordings. In the documentary, Azulão seems like some random dude they pulled out of a house to sing a Gonzaga cover. Since Gonzaga launched the revolution in the 1940s, there have been thousands of forró 78s, LPs, 10"s, compactos, CDs and tapes released in Brazil; perhaps more than 100,000. It is great to start with Jackson and Gonzaga, but if you get interested in forró, those guys are at the peak of one massive iceberg.

Rare Forró Documentary in English & Portuguese - Luiz Gonzaga, Azulão & Jackson Do Pandeiro

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Luiz Vieira - Eu Sou Eu from Em Tempo De Verdade - Copacabana (1971)

This is Luiz Vieira's debut on this Forró LP Gringo. Vieira dipped his toes in multiple Brazilian genres during his recording career, including baião and forró. He gradually moved away from northeastern music as his career progressed. Eu So Eu features Vieira's powerful voice, a forró rhythm with a bit of samba cuíca. The LP, Em Tempo De Verdade, may also be of interest to Tropicalia collectors, because Rógerio Duprat was involved with the arrangements, along with Leo Peracchi, Moacyr Portes and José Briamonte. The majority of the LP features lush, nicely orchestrated ballads. 

Luiz Vieira - Eu Sou Eu from Em Tempo De Verdade - Copacabana (1971) 

Luiz Vieira - Em Tempo De Verdade - Copacabana (1971) 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sirí do Forró - Passei Dos Trinta, Baião do Bambolé & Fui A Umbanda from Mandando Brasa - Continental (1965)

Sirí do Forró's Mandando Brasa is a scorcher. I have been humming these songs all week. The production sounds uncannily like mid-1960s Jackson do Pandeiro Philips Records albums. Mandando Brasa may be the best album that Jackson do Pandeiro never recorded. It was hard to cherry pick three tracks because there are so many exceptional tunes on this LP. Sirí's career is somewhat mysterious after Mandando Brasa. He went on to record an album in 1984, but I am not sure what he may have done in the 20 year gap between the two LPs. The artwork for Mandando Brasa was later nicked by MusiColor for Benedito Nunes' 1971 LP Forró Bom Danado.

Sirí do Forró - Passei Dos Trinta from Mandando Brasa - Continental (1965)

Sirí do Forró - Baião do Bambolé from Mandando Brasa - Continental (1965)

Sirí do Forró - Fui A Umbanda from Mandando Brasa - Continental (1965)

Sirí do Forró - Mandando Brasa - Continental (1965)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Marinalva e Sua Gente - Enquanto Hã Vida, Hã Esperança & Eu Vim De Longe from Poeira do Caminho - Tropicana (1974)

Following hard on the heels of Pirril, posted last week on ForroLPGringo, is Marinalva's classic LP, Poeira do Caminho, from 1974. Tropicana had a run of albums that were beautifully produced by Pedro Sertanejo in the mid-1970s. It is likely that many of the same musicians were were the house band for Sertanejo and Tropicana at this time. The cavaquinho and zabumba have a very distinctive sound. There are a bunch of good songs from this LP and it is difficult to cherry pick two favorites. Enquanto Hã Vida, Hã Esperança features double tracked vocals, which was unusual for forró produciton. Eu Vim De Longe showcases Marinalva's moodier side and the versatility of the band.

Marinalva e Sua Gente - Enquanto Hã Vida, Hã Esperança from Poeira do Caminho - Tropicana (1974)

Marinalva e Sua Gente - Eu Vim De Longe from Poeira do Caminho - Tropicana (1974

Marinalva e Sua Gente - Poeira do Caminho - Tropicana (1974)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pirril - Maria Helena & Chá De Aroeira from Bicho Homem - Tropicana (1976)

Pirril. This is the kind of forró that got me interested in the genre to begin with. Genival Lacerda's Ralador De Côco is one of my all time favorite LPs. Pirril's Bicho Homem had the same producer, Pedro Sertanejo and was recorded less than two years after Lacerda's classic LP. It is possible that the same house band played on both records. The production is outstanding. The zabumba, a bass drum used in forró recordings, is essentially two drums in one. The top side uses an animal skin to get the boom for the bass drum sound. The other side, often made of plastic in modern drums, is played with a thin stick called a bacalhau. This gives the the drum a pop and a click. Sertanejo really knew how to bring out the sound of the drum. Mid-70s records on Tropicana captured the sound of the zabumba better than just about anything that I have heard. The icing on the cake is Pirril's fantastic singing and songs. This LP is a rarity and solid 70s gold.

Pirril - Maria Helena from Bicho Homem - Tropicana (1976) 

Pirril - Chá De Aroeira from Bicho Homem - Tropicana (1976) 

Pirril - Bicho Homem - Tropicana (1976)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Trio Irakitan - Andorinha Preta (Toada) from Odeon 78 rpm (1956) Carnival Week In Rio (1957)

This is my second of two posts from Trio Irakitan. Andorinha Preta (Black Swallow) may be the most hypnotic record the Trio ever recorded. Andorinha Preta is listed as a Toada record, which is a style occasionally recorded by forró artists. The most famous version of Andorinha Preta was recorded in English with a somewhat generic title, Brazilian Love Song, by Nat King Cole backed by Trio Irakitan in 1959. Although Cole's recording is fine, I find the full Portuguese versions to be superior. There are two versions of Andorinha Preta by Trio Irakitan that predate Cole's. The first recording, featured here, was a 78rpm recording by the group from 1956. A second version was recorded for a film called Rio Fantasia with Eliana Macedo on lead vocals with the Trio backing her. Interestingly, the 1956 78rpm and Rio Fantasia versions do not seem to appear on any Trio Irakitan reissues, which are numerous. Thankfully, folks have uploaded the 1956 versions on YouTube. 

My recording comes from a super clean copy of a US LP called Carnival Week In Rio from 1957. The LP jacket boldly claims "Portable equipment was used to capture the true sounds of celebration, and from more than 30 hours of tape-recorded action the unique Capitol record of "Carnival Week in Rio" was finally - after judicious editing - accomplished."  What they should have said is "Capitol Records took existing songs recorded in professional studios by the Brazilian artists and added some crowd noise." I don't know why they would have needed 30 hours of noise. Perhaps a lucky Capitol exec got a free trip to Rio. Interestingly, the crowd noise is kind of nice. Since the original 78rpm is rare, this may be the most hifi version of the original version of Andorinha Preta available. 

Trio Irakitan - Andorinha Preta (Toada) from Odeon 78 rpm (1955) Carnival Week In Rio (1957)

Trio Irakitan - Andorinha Preta (Toada) from Odeon 78 rpm (1956) Carnival Week In Rio (1957)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Trio Irakitan - Quebra Coco from Sempre (Siempre) Alerta - Odeon (1960)

Interestingly, Brazil and the United States shared an affection for baritone male vocal combos in the 1950s and 1960s. I am referring to a pre-Beatles, non-Doo Wop groups. The vocal stylings of Trio Irakitan are similar to those of the Kingston Trio. Even the content was similar. Both groups took material from the folk sounds of each country. The songs and grooves, however, are mostly different. Quebra Coco comes from the LP Sempre Alerta, which is an album of Brazilian Boy Scout songs. This seems like an unusual choice, although a folk artist in the US like Pete Seeger would have been a likely candidate to record something similar. 

I have often thought that camp songs may be the purest kind of pop song. I don't mean pure in a godly sense, but in the sense that the songs are simple, catchy and easy for groups to sing. While kids in the United States in 1960 might have been singing Michael Row the Boat Ashore, kids in Brazil may have been singing Quebra Coco. This is speculative, because my Brazilian contacts have never heard this tune. Perhaps the song was a regional favorite. I extracted this from a pressing from Venezuela with a unique cover. The standard cover from Brazil features the Trio in Boy Scout uniforms.

 Trio Irakitan - Quebra Coco from Sempre (Siempre) Alerta - Odeon (1960)

Trio Irakitan - Sempre (Siempre) Alerta - Odeon (1960) - Venezuela pressing