Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66
Luiz Eca of Tamba 4
Bola Sete with the OG Sleeve Face??
Listen/Download -Brasil 66 – Chelsea Morning
Listen/Download -Tamba 4 – We and the Sea
Listen/Download -Bola Sete – Suite Judy Blue Eyes
First and foremost, Happy New Year to all of you that don’t hew to one of the more obscure calendars.
As befits a blogger of my advanced age and parental status, I spent New Years Eve quietly, with the extended Funky16Corners fam in upstate NY. I won’t jive you and say that I haven’t spent many a past New Years greased to the gills and running wild like an escaped baboon, but those years are far behind me. I no longer possess the recuperative powers of my youth, and while I may partake in a cocktail every now and again, mass consumption thereof is but a memory.
I hope you all had a great time in the celebratory fashion of your choosing, and remained safe, warm and ready to soak up some quality music in the year two thousand and ten, the arrival at which is something that would have boggled my fevered brain decades ago, when such a date sounded like so much science fiction. Since we’ve arrived at this point on the timeline, and have neither become the first course in an alien feast, nor bow before a race of super intelligent apes, I have to assumed that the Jules Vernes of our age were – no matter how imaginative – somewhat less Jules Verne-y than the OG.
That said, I have decided to bring in the New Year with something mellow.
My digs of the past year were as always, diverse and satisfying, and today’s selections are proof.
The music of Brazil is something that I could not live without. Much like my fascination with the sounds of Jamaica, though I am in no way an expert, my love for the music made by our neighbors in the south, particularly after the foundation of bossa nova, runs very, very deep.
The three records I bring you this fine day were all created by Brazilian performers that had a presence here in the US.
Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 (and later 77, etc) actually had a fair amount of popularity in the US with a number of Top 40 hits in the US between 1966 and 1971, including their powerhouse cover of Jorge Ben’s ‘Mas Que Nada’. The group went a long way to popularizing (and pop music-a-fying) the sounds of Brazil for the US market, to the point where I actually remember my parents owning a couple of their records.
The Brasil 66 version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Chelsea Morning’ was on the 1971 LP ‘Stillness’ and is a great, jazzy take on an oft covered singer songwriter chestnut. ‘Stillness’ was the last album that would feature vocalist Lani Hall, who went on to marry none other than the group’s producer, Herb Alpert. Mendes’ piano is featured prominently and there’s lots of great percussion in the background.
Tamba 4, led by pianist Luiz Eca had a long history in Brazil as a trio, reforming in 1968 as Tamba 4 and releasing a couple of albums on CTI in the US in the late 60s.
Tamba 4’s ‘We and the Sea’ was the title track from their 1968 CTI debut. It’s a great example of the group’s sound, with Eca’s piano, flautist Bebeto and Ohana’s percussion joining with Gary McFarland-esque wordless vocalizations. If you haven’t heard any of their stuff, it has been reissued and some of it can be found in iTunes. I’m also reposting their very tasty, 45-only version of ‘California Soul’.
Though I only ever knew of the Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete via his 1960s recordings with the genius Vince Guaraldi, by the time he was making those records he was past 40 and had had a long career in his home country. His American discovery was by Dizzy Gillespie in New York in 1962 and he joined the trumpet master at the Monterey Jazz Fest that year. He went on to tour with Gillespie, eventually relocating to San Francisco where he met up with Guaraldi.
The tune I bring you today is a very mellow reworking of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s ‘Suite Judy Blue Eyes’ from Bola Sete’s 1971 LP ‘Workin’ on a Groovy Thing’.
The version is laid back with (of course) a Brazilian flair and sounds as if it might have been the inspiration for guitarist Fareed Haque’s 1997 reworking of the entire ‘Déjà vu’ LP for Blue Note*. Oddly enough, though I dig CSN/CSNY, ‘Suite Judy Blue Eyes’ has never been one of my favorite tunes from their catalog, and I like the way that Bola Sete removes the time-worn number from its shambolic and overreachingly ambitious (nothing like a bunch of longhairs reaching deep into their serapes to call something they wrote a “suite”) hippie roots, recasting it as a meditation of sorts.
I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with something a little closer to home.
*This was part of a short-lived series that Blue Note commissioned of jazz artists redoing entire classic albums which included Charlie Hunter covering Bob Marley’s ‘Natty Dread’ and Everette Harp’s version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’
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