With this unearthed feature, we take a look at a few personal favourites from the record shelves of NTS Radio’s Adzmandala, who runs the popular Cosmifrica night in Newcastle that focuses on African, Caribbean and Brazilian records for the dancefloor.
It’s worth bearing in mind that we’re focusing on a tiny amount of music potential that emerges from Brazil; the sonic volume of the country, just like its geographical area, is vast. Brazil blends original traditional roots with elements of rock, funk and jazz to develop its own sound. Hugely important was the emergence of Tropicalia, which was a myriad of Brazilian rhythms, poetry and ‘avant garde’ theatre. It arose during the sixties against a backdrop of subtle civil disobedience against a military dictatorship and was partly inspired by international counterculture. The oppressive dictatorship would last from 1964 to 1985, and music continued to emerge as subtle commentary to the political turmoil. However, it was not an easy environment to create art in and many artists during this time faced imprisonment and self-declared exile. Laws that limited freedom of speech were passed, such as the ‘Ato Institutional 5’, and traditionalists fiercely opposed what they saw in the emergence of alternative music scene as a dilution of Brazilian cultural values. However, as with many repressive states, music flourished as an antidote to oppression.
Tropicalia stood for a free sound or som livre, in that it reflected the deep juxtapositions that can be found within Brazilian society: wealth and poverty, indigenous and foreign, traditional and modern. The Tropicalia scene loosely ended around 1972. Alongside the emerging Tropicalia scene, music was a regular feature on televised music festival shows and this popular music was referred to ‘Música Popular Brasileira’, an umbrella term for all the multi dimensions of traditional Brazilian music that fused electric guitars and international sounds.
Here is where we pick up the pieces, focusing predominately on (without being limited to) soul, disco and boogie records from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. However Brazil has a rich vein of music to immerse yourself in, including forro, samba, bossa nova, psych, funk and folk… take your pick!
Many major players have diligently championed the music of Brazil within mainstream culture over the last forty years or so, particularly labels in the UK like Far Out and Mr Bongo. As well as this, a couple of recent compilations such as Outro Tempo on Music From Memory and Onda De Amor on Soundway highlight the early electronic / new age scenes and are well worth investigating, if you haven’t already. We are not trying to hitch a ride or claim any new discoveries here, but merely shine a light on a few of our favourites and help share some of the wonderful sounds of Brazil.
1. Wanderlea – Krioula
Awesome samba, soul with a funky groove released on Polydor in 1973. Wanderlea co-hosted the ‘Jovem Guardo’ television show alongside Roberto and Erasmo Carlos. A show that played host to a number of prominent musicians during the late 60s.
2. Bebeto – A Beleza é Você Menina
Continuing with the soul theme we check in with Bebeto and his 1978 release on Copacabana. A fresh drum roll takes us into traditional percussive elements backed up with horns and killer vocal arrangements.
3. Wando – Na Baixa do Sapeterio
More high-grade samba and soul amalgamations courtesy of Wando, who originally emerged while composing for artists like Jair Rodrigues and Roberto Carlos. Wando, though, would actually go on to create his own full and varied discography. Originally released on Beverly in 1974, there are quite a few different pressings of this record so it’s quite accessible. I’m totally sold on the flute hook!
4. Quarteto Em Cy – Salve o Verde
Quarteto Em Cy could be described as the original Brazilian girl group. Originally hailing from Ibiratain, Bahia, they were stalwarts of the bossa nova scene and beyond. ‘Salve Verde’ encompasses bossa nova with twists of jazz and funk. It’s taken from the 1978 LP ‘Querelas Do Brasil’ released on Philips in 1978. The track also features on Dj Nuts’ Cultura Copia mix and both are well worth checking out.
5. Jane Duboc – Se Eu Te Pege De Jeito
Moving into the 80s sound of Brazil, here’s Jane Duboc with her self titled 1983 album on Som De Gente. Jane Duboc is a huge star in Brazil and has been recognised as having a massive impact on MPB. She takes us into some mellow Brazilian boogie disco vibes. The track features amazing musicianship and is exceptionally well produced by Sergio Sa.
6. Marcos Valle – Para Os Filhos De Abrado
One of my favourite Brazilian artists – dubbed the renaissance man of Brazilian pop – Marcos Valle and this LP probably don’t need much of an introduction. Released in 1983 on Som Livre, it features the classic Brazilian boogie cut ‘Estrelar’, but I head straight for the sun drenched, psych tinged ‘Para Os Filhos De Abrado’. I’ve often wondered if an extended 12” exists as I feel that this tune has more to give… Lincoln Olivetti was involved in the production, so the whole LP has that distinctive sound.
7. Robson Jorge e Lincoln Olivetti – Ginga
Totally incredible 7” called ‘Os Temas Instrumentais Da Novela Baila Comigo’ which was released in 1981 on Som Livre and possibly predates their self-titled EP by a year or so. These guys worked with a list of who’s who of Brazilian artists of the period, including Tim Maia, Gal Costa and Gilberto Gil. Expect a serious dose of drum machines, synth and hand claps…
8. Emilio Santiago – O Amigo De Nova York
A great example of an artist who came up through the televised music festivals, playing a huge part in breaking new artists in Brazil. Initially he trained as a lawyer, but soon realised his soulful potential. This track heads straight to the dancefloor with infectious rhythms throughout and was featured on The Brazilian Boogie Connection compilation on Cultures of Soul. The original LP was released on Philips in 1983 and this track in particular was arranged by Serginho Trombone a super accomplished musician who featured on some indelible Brazilian albums, including Arthur Verocai’s self-title LP of 1972.