Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Os 3 do Nordeste & As Cangaceiras - O Proibido Cochilar

Os 3 do Nordeste - E Proibido Cochilar - from O Proibido Cochilar - CBS 1974

Click on the video above to play the song.

As Cangaceiras - E Proibido Cochilar - from Forró Em Limoeiro (or s/t) - Itamaraty 1970 / 1976

Click on the video above to play the song.

Originally called Trio Luar do Sertão (English: The Sertão Moonlight Trio), Os 3 do Nordeste (The 3 of the North) were one of the most successful forró groups on CBS in the 1970s.  The dates given for their formation are conflicting.  What seems to be solid fact is their lucky break came when Jackson do Pandeiro recommended them to Abdias* as the CBS session band to replace the group on staff.  

From the back of Os 3 Nordeste’s 1975 LP Mulher Com M Só: “Jackson came up to Abdias and, with very Paraibean mojo, said: ‘There it is Shorty, if you wanna hear the real bad a**es and put out an LP, you just say the word and I’ll bring em here.”

(Thanks Tiago “Bigode Hula Cavaquinho” Machado for the translation!)

Their first CBS LP was released in 1974.  Although their lineup has changed considerably, they are still performing and releasing albums today.

With it’s hypnotic accordion, wicked chorus and throaty vocals by Mestre Zinho, E Proibido Cochilar (English: It’s Forbidden To Doze Off or It’s Forbidden To Nap - playfully encouraged people to stay awake at a late night forró party) was a deserved hit worthy of Jackson do Pandeiro’s kudos.  It is one of the best known forró songs.  Ladies and gentlemen, it’s what we call a floor filler at soul all-nighters.

The song was composed by the brilliant
Antonio Barros, who wrote dozens of famous hits recorded by stars like Luiz Gonzaga, Jackson do Pandeiro, Dominguinhos, Gal Costa and Gilberto Gil. This LP is also one of the most common and easily obtainable forró albums.  I’m guessing that E Proibido Cochilar made it into collections of people who didn’t always buy forró thanks to the strength of the title track.  

As Cangaceiras**, an all female forró act, are a bit of a mystery to me.  I haven't found any biographical information online.  Their version of E Proibido Cochilar, with flourishes of funk guitar, is a favorite of DJ Greg Caz, who spins it on Wednesday nights at Nublu in New York.  My pressing of Forró Em Limoeiro came out on a label called Itamaraty in 1976, but according to Greg, the album is older:  "A quick note: the As Cangaceiras LP was reissued several times on the same label with different covers. The version I have is the original self-titled edition, which was actually released in 1970. Itamaraty, by the way, is the Brazilian diplomatic corps. Vinícius de Moraes was a diplomat, and Itamaraty fired him when it was discovered he was spending his nights in bars, singing "popular music" with no-good youngsters like Jobim and Baden Powell!"*** Those scoundrels!

Abdias was called dir. artistica or direção artística on the back cover of many CBS albums, which I believe means he was the A&R / Artist and Repertoire talent scout for the label.  I’m not certain if this also meant that he played a hand in producing the artists that he brought to CBS.

** Not to be confused with
Os Cangaceiros, who released an album on Musidisc in 1965 with casual, loungy versions of forró favorites.

***Thank you Greg Caz!

Os 3 Do Nordeste (1977) photo lifted from:  http://www.forroemvinil.com/os-3-do-nordeste-7

Friday, October 26, 2012

Marinês - Peba Na Pimenta - from Rico Ri À Toa (film) - unreleased version* - 1957

Click on the video above to play the song.

Marinês - Peba Na Pimenta - from Rico Ri À Toa (film) - unreleased version* - 1957

This is a bonus post... call it forró video gringo.  Peba Na Pimenta was a huge hit for Marinês (pronounced Mad-dee-naise, for you gringos) back in 1957.  This version, recorded for a film called Rico Ri À Toa, never appeared on LP as far as I’m aware. The hit version was much slower. It’s a shame, because I prefer this version by a hundred cows and two deserts.  It was co-written by the amazing João do Vale, who will appear as a future post.  The film shows the classic forró group instrumentation established by Luiz Gonzaga:  zabumba (bass drum with 2 heads played with a bacalhau and soft mallet), accordion, triangle and traditional outfits with cangaceiros hats.  Of course, recordings like this one were frequently beefed up with guitar or cavaquinho.

Marinês is a legend.  She was the first big female star in forró and according to many accounts, was the first woman to form a forró group.  Her career started in 1949, with her husband Abdias (a legend in his own right) and their group Casal da Alegria (Fun Couple).  She was fortunate enough to be the protégée Mr Big Baião Britches himself, Luiz Gonzaga.  Marinês released over 30 albums, many of which were beautifully recorded and released on RCA and CBS. 
She had the great fortune of recording for great labels with super studios.  Most forró stars were not so lucky. Although later her music crossed over with MPB, she always had more than a sprinkle of nordeste.

* I swiped this video from YouTube.  I should credit the blog
Retalhos Históricos de Campina Grande, who originally posted the video.  I fixed the audio, which was mono in one channel and had a buzzing noise in the other, which I removed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jackson do Pandeiro - Maria da Pá Virada & Quebra Galho - from Aqui Tô Eu - Philips 1970

Jackson do Pandeiro - Maria da Pá Virada - from Aqui Tô Eu - Philips 1970

Click on the video above to play the song.

Jackson do Pandeiro - Quebra Galho - from Aqui Tô Eu - Philips 1970

Click on the video above to play the song.

Aqui Tô Eu from 1970, an album credited simply to Jackson, was serendipitously timed.  Gilberto Gil covered 2 Jackson do Pandeiro’s hits, Chiclete Com Banana and O Canto Da Ema, on his album Expresso 2222, exposing young fans to the genius of Jackson do Pandeiro.*  Aqui Tô Eu featured re-recordings of the aforementioned songs (originally from a 1956 & 1959 78rpm single), along with 10 new songs and 2 other re-recordings.  It is likely that Gil knew the songs from his youth, but it’s probable that these fresh versions, recorded in 1970, inspired Gil’s Expresso 2222 covers, recorded in 1972, since both songs appeared on Aqui Tô Eu and he was a labelmate of Jackson do Pandeiro’s on Philips at the time.  

The end of the 1960’s seemed particularly bad for Jackson personally.  He and his wife Almira, who were also performing and songwriting partners, divorced in 1967.  He suffered serious health problems, including 2 broken arms after a car accident in January of 1968.  His old dear friend Rosil Cavalcanti, who co-wrote the famous Sebastiana and many other early songs with Jackson, died the same year.  Jackson was in financial trouble and his career was on the skids.

You’d never know that he suffered so much, judging by his joyful LPs.  Aqui Tô Eu was his last album for Philips, which had been his primary label since 1960.  Although this record featured 4 re-recordings of his classics from the 50s, Jackson do Pandeiro wasn’t resting on his laurels.  Jackson knew how to pick and interpret a tune.  Stellar songs like Xodó de Motorista (co-written by the great Elino Julião) and Aqui Tô Eu kept the album cooking.  Flourishes of mariachi trumpets added something new to Jackson’s sound, for better or for worse.  With Aqui Tô Eu, Jackson was steps away from reaching the summit of his power with his next LP, the 1971 CBS masterpiece, O Dono do Forró.  

Maria da Pá Virada (by Betinho / Jackson do Pandeiro) was one of many standout tracks from Aqui Tô Eu.  Maria da Pá Virada was another example of how Jackson do Pandeiro refused to be a slave to conventional forró instrumentation established by Gonzaga.  

My whiz bang Brazilian friend Tiago pondered the complexities of the title:

The literal meaning of Maria da Pá Virada in English is Maria with the Flipped Shovel, but there are multiple references that Jackson can be citing in the song.  It may be a reference to a Bahia proverb: "Da Bahia Pra cima a coisa muda..." meaning that things are different in the north (food, the people, the culture).  Da Pa Virada can also indicate that Maria is a person who is moody like a child, irritable, a fighter, a go-getter, slutty, determined or stubborn in a good way.

Criminally, like much of Jackson’s catalog,
Maria da Pá Virada** and Quebra Galho were never reissued and only appear on the 1970 LP.  Quebra Galho (English: Breaking Twig) by Calazans Viveiros / Audemir Silva is a great example of how Jackson could infuse energy into mid-tempo numbers that very few artists mastered in the forró world.

For references visit my FAQ section.

* Technically, Gal Costa was the first of the Tropicalia crowd to record a Jackson do Pandeiro song, Sebastiana, on her 1969 self titled LP.  

**If you listen closely, you’ll hear the bass player lose the plot at the end of the song.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Luiz Gonzaga - O Fole Roncou - EMI Odeon 1973

Click on the video above to play the song.

Luiz Gonzaga - O Fole Roncou from his self titled (1973) EMI / Odeon LP

This is the song that got me interested in collecting forró LPs, thanks to David Byrne and Luaka Bop's wonderful Brazil Classics Volume 3.

Elvis Presley is the king of rock n’ roll.  Luiz Gonzaga is considered the king of forró, and the most celebrated performer to ever popularize northeastern Brazilian music.  Gonzaga and Presley have interesting parallels.  Both released the majority of their work for RCA.  They recorded artistic triumphs, but a good portion of their back catalogues consisted of lousy, mediocre, dull records. Both men had competitors that may have been more deserving of the title “king.”  Elvis had worthy contemporaries, like Little Richard and Chuck Berry, who were as innovative, and arguably more innovative, than he was.  Luiz Gonzaga’s primary rival was Jackson do Pandeiro, who’s recorded output was nearly 25 years shorter and perhaps superior to Gonzaga’s.  But Gonzaga, like Presley, made incredible, unforgettable records and deserves to be lauded.

Luiz Gonzaga’s 1973 contains one of the finest single forró songs ever recorded, O Fole Roncou. Although this was not his most famous song, it’s blazing energy and production make it sound like the most contemporary song in his catalog.  I love the scratchy guitar!  Dig the fret buzz during the last few riffs.

The lyrics are also wonderful... a rough translation...

The bellows roared at the top of the mountain
Cabroeira my land
He climbed the hill and was playing

Ze hole, Sickle-Foot, Chico Manco
Male Goat, White Goat
Everyone was playing
Crazy Mary, Margaret with the
Beautiful Flowers
Very sad in the window, didn't dance,
I did not enter

Like Jackson Do Pandeiro, Gonzaga recorded his most interesting albums when he left the record label that had been his home for most of his career.  Gonzaga had been with RCA for 33 years when he briefly left for two albums for Odeon, a subsidiary of EMI.  Luiz Gonzaga Jr. was signed to Odeon.  I have never read an account of why he made this choice.  I can only speculate that Gonzaga Sr. was encouraged by his son or excited by the prospect of recording with a different team.  Producer Milton Miranda gave Gonzaga’s 1973 LP and the 1974 follow up, Daquele Jeito, the executive treatment.  The albums have the EMI sound, most notably heard on Beatles albums, because EMI standardized its’ world studios.  It was common practice for an EMI studio in Brazil, West Africa or Australia to have the same gear as Abbey Road.  Luiz Gonzaga’s records on RCA were notoriously conservative, usually favoring the most traditional instrumentation of forró and baião that he helped established.  The instrumentation on the Odeon LPs was diversified considerably to include electric guitars and bass, wide stereo mixes and plenty of additional percussion and horns.  Miranda did everything that he could to nurture these recordings of the forró king.

Song for song, Gonzaga ‘73 is not a perfect album.  Daquele Jeito is probably the better of the two LPs.  Still, the album contains some of Gonzaga's best songs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Introduction To The Kings Of Forró: Luiz Gonzaga & Jackson do Pandeiro

The kings of forró are Luiz Gonzaga and Jackson do Pandeiro.   Both men were from the northeast of Brazil.  Gonzaga was from the rural farming village of Caicara and Jackson came from the coastal city of Paraíba.  It would be simplistic to call Gonzaga the ruralist and Jackson the urbanite. Both found fame and fortune by taking northeastern music to big city audiences.  Both men were sophisticated writers and consummate performers.

Gonzaga and Jackson had long recording careers, stretching back to the days when 78 rpm records were the main musical exchange commodity.  Gonzaga began recording in 1940.  Most of his catalogue is on RCA, except for a brief and fruitful stint on Odeon in 1973 and 1974.  Jackson do Pandeiro’s first release came in 1953.  He subsequently recorded for multiple labels, but his longest period was on Philips from 1960 to 1970.  Most of Gonzaga’s catalogue has been respectfully reissued with original artwork, both on LP and CD.  Jackson do Pandeiro’s catalogue has received relatively poor treatment.  A few of his original albums have been reissued properly, but the majority of his work has been relegated to slapdash compilation CDs.  

The 2 men have been immortalized as bronze statues performing together in Campina Grande, Paraíba.  Gonzaga is playing his trademark piano accordion and wearing his famous flipped taco-shaped Lampião the cangaço* hat.  Jackson is dancing and playing the pandeiro**, a drum/tambourine from which his moniker was derived.  Although this may give the impression of unity, the performers never recorded together and were stylistically different.

Luiz Gonzaga’s status as musical historian and celebrated performer is unparalleled.  He is known as the man who popularized and even defined the styles of music called forró and baião.  In terms of influence, Luiz Gonzaga is to Brazil like Alan Lomax, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly are combined in the US.  Gonzaga was a powerful figure in northern Brazil.  Legend has it that he was even able to stop violence between two rival clans by giving a performance.  No one else, outside of religious icons, were held in such reverence by the people of the northeast. He continued to play the types of music he helped to popularize until his death in 1989 at the age of 77.

Jackson do Pandeiro had career highs and lows, but was not in equal standing, in terms of stature, with Gonzaga when he passed away in 1982 at the age of 62.  His reputation has grown since his death.  Some of this is thanks to the Tropicalia crowd, Gilberto Gil in particular, who recorded Jackson’s songs and cited his influence.  During his lifetime, northeastern musicians like Genival Lacerda, Abdias, Elino Julião, Osvaldo Oliveira, Os 3 Nordeste, Messias Holanda and Jacinto Silva rubbed shoulders with, and wanted to be like, Jackson do Pandeiro.  Why?  Jackson wrote and interpreted excellent songs and released extraordinary records. 

Jackson was the son of a coco singer named Flora Mourão, Jackson’s mastery of that style and killer vocal phrasing mixed with the samba, forró, marchas and virtually every other northeastern form gave his records depth and diversity.  Although successful, Jackson was not wealthy and never had the luxury of resting on his laurels.  Jackson’s records never declined in quality.  He is still lauded as the most exciting performer ever from the northeast of Brazil.  Song for song, Jackson do Pandeiro’s catalogue remains second to none.

*Lampião is a legendary bandit from the Brazilian northeast.  The distinctive outfits of the cangaceiros (men of cangaço-bandits) have been adopted by many groups that play forró music. Like the bandits of the Old West in the United States and the bank robbers of the Great Depression, Lampião is considered a folk hero by some and a terrorist/rapist/thief by others.  He was eventually captured and beheaded, along with his gang.  This was photographed for posterity, looking like a cross between a Mexican Day Of The Dead shrine and a gruesome display of headhunter spoils.

**A pandeiro is a tambourine with jingles and a membrane played with distinct rhythm in many types of Brazilian music.