Saturday, December 1, 2012

Jackson do Pandeiro - O Dono Do Forró - CBS - 1971 - part one

Jackson do Pandeiro - O Dono Do Forró - CBS - 1971 - part one

Jackson do Pandeiro - Aquele Pé De Pitomba- from O Dono Do Forró - CBS - 1971

Click on the video above to play the song.

Jackson do Pandeiro - Madalena - from O Dono Do Forró - CBS - 1971

Click on the video above to play the song.

Jackson do Pandeiro - Eu Não Vou Chorar - from O Dono Do Forró - CBS - 1971

Click on the video above to play the song.

O Dono Do Forró means The Owner Of Forró in Portuguese. It’s the finest forró album ever recorded by the king of rhythm, Jackson do Pandeiro. It’s a true masterpiece and one of those special moments in recorded history where everything fell into place.  The band, performances, songs, recording and mix were magical.

Jackson do Pandeiro - O Dono Do Forró

Jackson reached this artistic peak when his career was at an all time low.  Perhaps the record was strong because he had everything to prove at this stage. Radio Nacional were not playing his records and the days of live radio appearances were long gone.  Sales were down. The biggest endorsement from the Tropicalia crowd, in the form of Gilberto Gil’s Expresso 2222 LP (containing 2 Jackson covers) and a major 1972 television show, MPB Especial, were still a year away.  A frustrated Jackson told Ana Maria Baiana from O Globo***:  “ "There are many people out there who think I'm dead. Truth. The other day, I was doing a show in Minas and a guy asked me," Hey, Jackson, you're still there, eh? You stopped recording, right? And I said "Look, boy.... I record every year....  LPs, compilations****... Does anyone play these discs?"**

Abdias (José Abdias de Farias)
, recording artist and CBS A&R representative, had been slowly recruiting the crème de la crème of northeastern Brazilian artists from the late 60s into the early 70s. By 1971, Trio Nordestino, Marinés, Coronel Ludru, Osvaldo Oliveira, João do Pife, Jacinto Silva, Messias Holanda and Elino Julião had all been lured away (mostly from Fontana) to build Abdias’ CBS empire. Regardless of how badly Jackson’s career was going, the artists on CBS viewed him as the king (nicknamed the King Of Rhythm). For Abdias, Jackson do Pandeiro was the ultimate signing.  

was not satisfied with his initial recording for CBS. When recording sessions for O Dono Do Forró began later in 1971, Jackson do Pandeiro was ready.  He assembled Borborema, his hand picked backing group featuring Cícero (pandeiro and percussion), Tinda (triangle), Severo (concertina accordion), Sussuanil (zabumba) and Passinho (violão de 7 cordas - 7 stringed guitar that also acts as a bass).  

Jackson do Pandeiro with Borborema from forroemvinil

 With some exceptions, before 1971, Jackson’s recordings didn’t have the majesty and mix quality of the music on O Dono Do Forró. Late 60s and early 70s recordings seemed to be mostly monophonic and quickly mixed, with mistakes overlooked. Although he received the executive treatment in the early and mid 60s, the results from Cantagalo and Fontana were mixed, even though the songwriting was still stellar. Clearly, Abdias and CBS revered Jackson. Perhaps that is why the CBS recordings are the best from Jackson’s career. Great expansive stereo mixes, along with a fantastic band brought out the air, depth and complexity in his music. The wider sound and reverb softened the sound and toned down the aggressiveness of the form, allowing the music to breathe and be intimately listenable on record. Acoustic bass, muted accordion, horns and flute were ideal for the arrangements.  The album has haunting, memorable melodies interwoven with complex and varied rhythms. O Dono Do Forró is the ultimate artistic statement from the greatest forró artist.

Jackson do Pandeiro with guitar (violão)

I chose Aquele Pé De Pitomba (Barbosa da Silva), Eu Não Vou Chorar (Durval Vieira – Jackson do Pandeiro) and Madalena (Juarez Santiago – José Sales) because they showcase a variety of sound on O Dono Do Forró, ranging from moody, mid-tempo,choro-flavored ballads, to cooking forró to blazing arrasta-pé marches full of classical flourishes.

Actually owning a copy of the Owner of Forró was challenging.
It took 5 years and buckets of tears to track it down. I’m fairly certain that O Dono Do Forró was not repressed after 1971 and it was never available on CD. Interestingly, every sleeve claims the album is “mono” but the mixes are definitely stereo. I don’t believe that 2 different mixes were released.  

Copies of O Dono Do Forró don’t come up for sale that often in Brazil.  It’s listed 5 or 10 times a year on Mercadolivre, but buyers must have a Brazilian bank account and address in Brazil to use Mercadolivre. Even if I was in Brazil, at least half of the copies that I’ve seen are in rough shape or sold by dubious sellers with crummy feedback. O Dono Do Forró wasn’t pressed anywhere but Brazil and in 5 years of hunting, I have never seen a copy for sale outside of Brazil. Collecting other Brazilian LPs has become a lot easier in the US in recent years (in NYC especially), thanks to interest in Tropicalia and 70s Brazilian funk. There is even a great store in NYC called Tropicalia In Furs with a great selection of Brazilian 70s music. But forró LPs, it seems, weren’t pressed in the quantities that MPB music was.

My next entry will feature Morena Bela, the big single from O Dono Do Forró that was only ever an album track, and some of the compilations that Jackson appeared on around the time of O Dono Do Forró. 

Jackson from the cover of O Dono Do Forró.

*Jackson was named after American cowboy actor Jack Perry.

**Roughly translated from Jackson do Pandeiro’s biography called O Rei Do Ritmo by Fernando Moura and Antônio Vicente

***O Globo is a major Brazilian newspaper still in business today.

****A sampling of these compilations coming in the second part of this blog post.


  1. Great post. What about the forró of "João do Vale"?

    Carcará, by João do Vale and Chico Buarque:

    Amar quem eu já amei, by Amelinha (written by João do Vale/Libório) --> long introduction, better after 1´12´´ of song

    1. João do Vale is an awesome composer. He co-wrote Peba Na Pimenta, which I posted in October '12: http://forrolpgringo.blogspot.com/2012/10/marines-peba-na-pimenta-from-rico-ri.html. I'd also like to add some Zelia Barbosa songs in the future!