Tag Archives: Brazil

Monday Music: the Portuguese edition

Let others take up my madness
And all that went with it.
Without madness what is man
But a healthy beast,
A postponed corpse that breeds?

-from “Sebastian, King of Portugal”
by Fernando Pessoa (Richard Zenith, trans.)

I have three tracks to share with you on this rainy monday (it’s rainy where I am).  Each from a different continent, they all have in common the Portuguese language, a tongue well-suited to song, unlike our coarse Germanic talk.

"Fado," by Jose Malhoa (1910)

The first, a classic example of the Portuguese fado, was recorded in Mozambique somewhere around 1955 or 1956, during the reign of Portugal’s imperialistic Estado Novo.  It is one of the earliest known recordings of Joao Maria Tudella, who would go on to become an internationally touring fado singer in the following decade.  He is accompanied by Alves Martins and the famous Antonio Fonseca on Spanish and Portuguese guitars.

Joao Maria Tudella, “Cancao do Mar” [via ElectricJive]

The next track was recorded in 1971 in Paris by Brazilian Bossa Nova singer Nara Leão.  In marked contrast to the violent political turmoil of the preceding decade in Brazil, “Insensatez,” off Dez Anos Depois (“10 years after”), is practically Tylenol in song form.  It is one of my favorite bossa nova tracks and exemplifies for me the sleepy melancholic characteristics of the genre.

Nara Leão, “Insensatez” [Amazon]

The final track I submit to you closes the debut solo album of Portland, Oregon-born jazz bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding [myspace].  Only 24 years old at the time of this recording, she was selected by President Obama to perform at the Nobel prize ceremony in Oslo at the end of 2009 and has not surprisingly been receiving quite a bit of critical attention since that time.  Her sophomore effort, Chamber Music Society (2010) [Amazon], is also excellent.  Niño Josele joins her on “Samba em Preludio,” playing flamenco guitar.

Esperanza Spalding, “Samba Em Preludio” [Amazon]

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"Just Bees and Things and Flowers"

In Brazil, where Seu Jorge is from, the longest day of the year is in December, but where I’m from it’s today, and the forecast says it’s going to be a hot one.  So hot, in fact, that the meteorologist recommends you find yourself a cool song to get you through it.  Preferably something in the R&B/Funk range.

You might remember Seu Jorge as Pele dos Santos, the safety expert aboard the Belefonte who provided The Life Aquatic with its mostly diegetic score of bossa-nova lite versions of all your favorite Bowie tunes.

For example:

Seu Jorge, “Suffragette City”

Anyway, he’s got a new album coming out at the end of July, Seu Jorge and Almaz, and its first single, a cover of Roy Ayer’s “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” is available for download.  The track is lazy and a little ominous, just like the original, and it’s just the thing to beat the heat for when all you can manage is to sit and sweat.

Seu Jorge, “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”

Buy the full album here when it’s released.

Seu Jorge plays at the Trocadero in Philadelphia on July 28.

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