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


Crossing chords

Maogani‘s second CD is
a study in elegance.

Daniella Thompson

14 June 2002

Paulo Aragão, Carlos Chaves, Marcos Alves, and Marcus Tardelli, better known as the guitar quartet Maogani, are not prolific recorders, but they make up in quality for their paucity of albums.

Cordas Cruzadas is the quartet’s second disc in five years, and it sallies forth from where their debut CD Maogani had left off. This is no faint praise, considering how superb the first album was.

Not only crack instrumentalists, the Maogani four have made a name for themselves as top-rung guitar arrangers, about whom their mentor Guinga spares no accolades (he called Paulo Aragão “the best Brazilian guitar arranger of all time”).

Essentially a tribute disc, Cordas Cruzadas shows off the group members’ arrangements of tunes composed by their heroes.

Opening the disc is Baden Powell’s “Samba Novo” [Babel], previously recorded by the composer and by guitarist Marco Pereira. Here it’s presented in a virtuosic and exuberant arrangement by Marcus Tardelli. The liner notes inform that in creating the guitar effects that sound like marimbas at the end of the track, Tardelli was inspired by Mauricio Carrilho and João de Aquino’s recording of “Elfos” (1986).

Joyce joins the quartet in her own composition, “For Hall”—a tribute to jazz guitar legend Jim Hall and also a pun on ‘forró,’ which suits this baião to a T. Carlos Chaves arranged a percussive rhythm for the guitars, which contrasts with the smooth guitar solos and with Joyce’s vocalese.

Tom Jobim’s “Chovendo na Roseira” was influenced by Claude Debussy (it quotes his famous Rêverie and La plus que lente) to such an extent that its original title before it had acquired lyrics was “Children’s Games,” in honor of the French composer’s Children’s Corner. Heitor Villa-Lobos also receives an homage by way of a quotation from his serenade “Abril.” Marcos Alves and Paulo Aragão gave the arrangement an appropriately Impressionist ambience, with a delicate harp-like tone.

Leandro Braga’s “Choro No. 2” has been previously recorded only once, in the composer’s own piano & guitar arrangement in the disc And Why Not? Marcus Tardelli’s version is remarkably faithful to the original, maintaining the key in E-flat minor, which is unusual for the guitar. Fabiano Salek enhances the rhythm on pandeiro.

In “A Foggy Day em Teresópolis,” receiving here its first recording, Ed Motta tips off his hat to George and Ira Gershwin’s tune and to John Paul Jones’ pre-Led Zeppelin “A Foggy Day in Vietnam.” Paulo Aragão’s delicate arrangement weaves vocalese (Motta), clarinet (Cristiano Alves), and flute (Alexandre Maionese) through the strings.

Aragão’s arrangement for “Passaredo” unites disparate elements from the very different original recordings made by the two songwriters: Chico Buarque in Meus Caros Amigos and Francis Hime in Passaredo. Effects such as pizzicatos, tempo changes, and bird-like trills help make the synthesis possible.

Receiving its first recording, “Choro Réquiem” is Aldir Blanc’s farewell to his mother, who passed away in early 2001. Guinga sings movingly in an arrangement shared by Marcos Alves, Paulo Aragão, and Marcus Tardelli.

A pair of tributes to the masters follow. Hélio Delmiro is saluted in Tardelli’s arrangement of the beautiful choro “Chama,” and Hermeto Pascoal receives Carlos Chaves’ treatment of “Ilza No. 83,” a waltz composed in 1999 (the year in which O Bruxo was writing a tune each day) and eventually named—like the whole series—after Pascoal’s wife, who died in November 2000.

“Choro de Bela” is the first tune by a Maogani member to be recorded by the group. Carlos Chaves arranged his choro to include solo clarinet (Cristiano Alves) and pandeiro (Fabiano Salek). The Bela of the title is Alves’ little daughter and Chaves’ niece Isabela.

One of the most easily recognized tracks on the disc is João Donato’s “Bananeira,” arranged here by another mentor of the group, Celia Vaz, who added a passage from Donato’s “Amazonas.” Another first recording as well as a tribute, “Guingando” sings the virtues of Guinga in Mauro Aguiar’s tongue-twisting lyrics, the verbal equivalent of Guinga’s music, delivered in Mônica Salmaso’s lyrically earnest voice:

[...] Craque do bordão traz no patuá
Som de mil Brasis fusas de condão
Zanza de saci urro de aruá
Pacto com o cão reza ao Deus dará

The harmonies, full of twists and turns like the ziguezagueando of the lyrics, are a collaborative effort by Paulo Aragão, Marcos Alves, Carlos Chaves, and Sergio Valdeos.

Longtime Hermeto bandmember, the bassist Itiberê Zwarg contibuted “Pra Lúcia"” which he also arranged. The tune grew out of a simple chord played while the group was visiting Itiberê and evolved into this lovely composition dedicated to the composer’s wife.

Paulinho da Viola’s famous choro “Inesquecível” closes the album with yet another tribute—this one to Jacob do Bandolim. The arrangement by Paulo Aragão, Sergio Valdeos, Marcos Alves, and Carlos Chaves preserves the bandolim sound and magically evokes the great musician.

Audio samples are available on the Maogani website.

Quarteto Maogani: Cordas Cruzadas
(Rob Digital RD 042; 2001) 45:34 min.

01. Samba Novo (Baden Powell)
02. For Hall (Joyce) — w/ Joyce
03. Chovendo na Roseira (Anotnio Carlos Jobim)
04. Choro No. 2 (Leandro Braga)
05. A Foggy Day em Teresópolis (Ed Motta) — w/ Ed Motta
06. Passaredo (Francis Hime/Chico Buarque)
07. Choro Réquiem (Guinga/Aldir Blanc) — w/ Guinga
08. Chama (Hélio Delmiro)
09. Ilza No. 83 (Hermeto Pascoal)
10. Choro de Bela (Carlos Chaves)
11. Bananeira (João Donato/Gilberto Gil)
12. Guingando (Edu Kneip/Mauro Aguiar) — w/ Mônica Salmaso
13. Pra Lúcia (Itiberê Zwarg)
14. Inesquecível (Paulinho da Viola)


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