:: These reviews were originally published
:: in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


Masterful samba

Cláudio Jorge’s Coisa de Chefe
is in line for a Latin Grammy.

Daniella Thompson

25 July 2002

Few living musicians can boast of having been Cartola’s partners. Cláudio Jorge is one of those few, although boasting is not his style. I asked him how this partnership with Cartola came about, and he obliged:

I met Cartola through João Nogeira. We recorded a TV program at the Tijuca Tennis Club in Rio de Janeiro. After the recording, João called me to come over to a corner with Cartola and said: “Claudinho, listen to Cartola's new song.” Cartola sang “As Rosas Não Falam.” It was a shock, an emotion. We continued to meet at shows and parties, and in one party at the house of a friend of his, we were alone in a room, exchanging ideas on guitar harmonies. That’s when we came up with the outline for the waltz “Fundo de Quintal” that we later completed, and Hermínio Bello [de Carvalho] wrote the lyrics at Cartola’s request.

At a later time we traveled together in the Projeto Pixinguinha, presenting shows throughout Brazil. During the trip, our other song was hatched—the samba “Dê-me Graças, Senhora.” I remember that we were in Salvador, Bahia, and Cartola pushed the second part of the lyrics, written on the paper of a cigarette pack, under the door of my room. I have it saved somewhere...

I worked with him in other shows and used to visit his house in Jacarepaguá. I recorded our waltz in my first album, Cláudio Jorge (EMI-Odeon). Our samba was recorded by Cartola in the disc commemorating his 70th birthday [Cartola 70 Anos], by the vocal group Arranco [Samba de Cartola], and I plan to record it for my next disc.

Cláudio was 41 years younger than Cartola.

Other samba legends he accompanied as a youth were Ismael Silva, Nelson Cavaquinho, and Clementina de Jesus. Today he’s one of Brazil’s most respected guitarists, a permanent fixture in Martinho da Vila’s band, and arranger for Martinho’s albums. A member of the Ala de Compositores of GRES Unidos de Vila Isabel, he’s closely allied with other sambistas affiliated with this escola de samba, including Nei Lopes, Luiz Carlos da Vila, and Agrião, whose discs (Sincopando o Breque, A Luz do Vencedor, and Samba Vadio, respectively) he produced and arranged.

All of the above accomplishments don’t prepare the listener for Coisa de Chefe, which is not only an accomplished songwriter’s and instrumentalist’s album but demonstrates his considerable singing talents as well. With backup from many of Brazil’s top instrumentalists (too numerous to list here), the disc is a party from beginning to end.

The opening number, “O Samba Melhor do Brasil,” is an obligatory tribute to the samba school of Cláudio's heart. “Amor de Fato” is a lively call for renewing a love affair. In “Novos Tempos,” the rainbow after a shower is a metaphor for soul cleansing:

A chuva chega e ela vem lavar.
Vem me livrar do mal.
É água fresca para aliviar meu coração
que secou de tanto pranto derramado
pela mágoa que se instalou no peito
de um jeito tão perverso
hoje se desfaz nestes versos.

“Princípio do Infinito” sings of that which encompasses everything in life, while “Coisa de Chefe” is a manifesto reaffirming the central role of samba in the composer’s life:

[...] O samba é a minha matriz, raiz
Presente de Deus mais puro, futuro

“E o Vento Levou,” a partnership with the great drummer Wilson das Neves (a mainstay of GRES Império Serrano), examines with regret a love that is no more. “O Que É Carnaval,” by the same pair, longs for the days when Escola de Samba pra gente era como família, before carnaval had become a tourist attraction.

“Panela na Pia” is a humorous samba in which the singer, having cooked an ample meal for everyone, asks the various celebrities present—Carla Perez, Caetano, Romário, Bill Clinton, Fernando Henrique, Faustão, etc.—to wash the pots. Needless to say, everyone has an excuse for not helping.

In “Solidariedade Humana,” the traditional samba percussion is augmented by strings and feminine vocals reflecting the introspective mood of the lyrics:

Essa vida é dura de entender
Vou vivendo, vou pagando pra ver
Aonde é que vou chegar
Canções, violões, pandeiros e corações
Vivendo a noite das ilusões
Onde eu fui te encontrar
Se sentou junto de mim
Me olhou no fundo, assim...
Me deitou na tua cama e adeus.
Foi só solidariedade humana.

Cláudio gives over a full half of the beautiful “Só Você” to a flute solo by José Carlos. The lyrics tell a story of disillusion in the loved one. “Quando Toco na Viola” relates the pleasure and emotion of playing guitar, and the connections it makes between the past and the present in Brazil. “Estrela Cadente,” a tale of longing for more illuminated times, features a rich arrangement of strings, soprano sax (Zé Nogueira), and chorus in addition to the samba ensemble.

In “Coco Sacudido,” Nei Lopes dispenses a long string of amusing folk wisdom, with instrumental accompaniment to match. The disc concludes with the jazzily instrumental “Samba pro Luizão,” in which Cláudio shines on guitar and Leny Andrade vocalizes.

Grammy or not, this disc already is a Coisa de Chefe.

Cláudio Jorge: Coisa de Chefe
(Carioca Discos/Caravelas 270.012; 2001) 51:59 min.

01. O Samba Melhor do Brasil (Cláudio Jorge)
02. Amor de Fato (Cláudio Jorge/João Nogueira) — w/ Humberto Araújo (tenor sax)
03. Novos Tempos (Cláudio Jorge)
04. Princípio do Infinito [Sonho Doce] (Cláudio Jorge/Luiz Carlos da Vila) — w/ Luiz Carlos da Vila
05. Coisa de Chefe (Cláudio Jorge)
06. E o Vento Levou (Wilson das Neves/Cláudio Jorge) — w/ Wilson das Neves
07. O Que É Carnaval (Wilson das Neves/Cláudio Jorge)
08. Panela na Pia (Jamil Joanes/Cláudio Jorge) — w/ Toque de Prima
09. Solidariedade Humana (Cláudio Jorge) — w/ Nilton Rodrigues (trumpet), Analimar Ventapani (vocals), Cláudia Telles (vocal arrangement)
10. Só Você (Cláudio Jorge/Luiz Alfredo) — w/ José Carlos (flutes)
11. Quando Toco na Viola (Ivan Lins/Cláudio Jorge)
12. Estrela Cadente (Cláudio Jorge/Nei Lopes)
13. Coco Sacudido (Cláudio Jorge/Nei Lopes) — w/ Nei Lopes
14. Samba pro Luizão (Cláudio Jorge) — w/ Leny Andrade (vocalese), Fernando Merlino (piano)


Copyright © 2002–2008 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.