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


Fresh air

The surprising sound
of Cordel das Fitas.

Daniella Thompson

27 June 2003

I was unprepared for Cordel das Fitas. The disc arrived in early May, I popped it into the CD player, and it’s remained there ever since. I listen to it several times a day, and its freshness never ceases to amaze me.

Cordel das Fitas is the brainchild of guitarist Luiz Flavio Alcofra and bandolinista Lenildo Gomes, who wrote and arranged all the songs between the two of them. Lenildo Gomes is a member of the samba-choro group Dobrando a Esquina, from which he recruited singer Lucio Sanfilippo. Pandeirista Clarice Magalhães came from the group Choro na Feira.

Together they create a sound so unusual that I was hard-put to place it in any known context. The combination of Sanfilippo’s minstrel-like voice, the often startling lyrics, and the far-from-obvious instrumental arrangements left me tongue-tied. Eventually I took the easy way out and asked the composers to describe the songs. They didn’t say nearly as much as I’d hoped, but their brief comments should provide some idea of the delights that are in store for the listener.

O Alfaiate e a Donzela (samba). A tribute to the singer and composer Walter Alfaiate, representative figure of carioca samba who is both sambista and tailor, and whom the members of Cordel often accompany in his shows. Guest appearances by Paulino Dias & Pretinho (percussion). Arrangement by Luiz Flavio Alcofra.

Sou seu alfaiate
Nas regras da arte
Vesti-me em você
Pra na passarela
Ser a minha donzela
Meu ateliê

No meu quitinete
Se espalha em confete
De prêt-a-porter
Seu nome é sucesso
Foi Miss Universo
Em Imbariê

Desamparada (samba). An urban chronicle based on everyday stresses that at times can appear like sheer insanity and nonsense. Guest appearances by Pretinho & Paulino Dias. Arrangement by Lenildo Gomes.

Ficou maluca quando atraverssou a rua
Tirou a roupa, ficou completamente nua
Pensou no aluguel por pagar
Depois lembrou que não tinha mais jantar

Pra Não Ficar Triste (choro-canção). This song has a seresta influence. The theme has to do with romantic crises, the ends of relationships—ideas often used in serestas. Guest appearances by Flanklin da Flauta (flute) and Kiko Horta (accordion). Arrangement by Lenildo Gomes.

[...] Assombrações pelo pátio
A casa sem luz
A vigília, o sinístro, o vulto, o mistério
A trama, o disfarce, ardis
Sombras do amor dissipado
O adeus ao redor

Oré Moreira (jongo). A tribute to Wilson Moreira, one of the most respected samba melodists and also a jongo composer. Note Lenildo’s counterpoints on the bandolim, Pretinho’s moringa, and Clarice Magalhães’ second voice. Arrangement by Lenildo & Luiz Flavio.

[...] É a voz da sereia Giomar
Recostada na mão de Omulu
Salve Oxum, Oxalá, Oxumaré
Odu é mironga de Exú

Velho Casarão (valsa brasileira). Possessing a Nazarethian aspect, this waltz, influenced by Fantastic Realism, has as its subject the abandoned old mansions of Rio de Janeiro. It is ably interpreted by Mariana Bernardes. Guest appearance by Rui Alvim (clarinet). Arrangement by Luiz Flavio Alcofra.

[...] Risos, festas, confissões
Percorrem a mobília
Ressoam no salão
Levitam as cortinas

Cinema Absurdo (choro-canção). A song in minor key and two parts. It deals with the imaginary relationship between a fan and a movie star. This choro used to be an instrumental and received lyrics at a later date. Arrangement by Lenildo Gomes.

Posso me ver de repente
Fazendo novela na vida real
Onde virei personagem
Na sua viagem, no meu festival

O Dono da Venda (samba). This humorous samba describes the conflicts between musicians and nightclub owners. This type of composition is often used in rodas de samba as a way of sending a message without revealing the identity of the target and is known as “samba endereçado.” Guest appearances by Paulino Dias & Pretinho. Arrangement by Lenildo Gomes.

Lá vem o dono da venda
no habitual mau humor
Brigou com o imposto de renda
Hoje o fiado acabou
Vai falar mal da viola
Vai derrubar o cantor

Cordel das fitas (canção). The lyrics are inspired by the meter of the cordel poetry practiced in the Brazilian northeast. The melody (composed later) harks back to the Renaissance troubadours and minstrels along the model of Cantigas de Amigo and is inspired by the songs of Elomar. Arrangement by Luiz Flavio Alcofra.

Bela ao Deus dará
Flor amarela
clara manhã
Leve é seu ar

Noturna (valsa brasileira). The lyrics trace the images of old serenades in Rio de Janeiro. The melody, inspired by Guinga, attempts to build on the anguish and lyricism of the words in a chromatic movement with no fixed key. A dense atmosphere is created through the dialog of instruments of differing timbres and textures, like bass clarinet and bandolim. Guest appearance by Rui Alvim (bass clarinet). Arrangement by Luiz Flavio Alcofra.

[...] Sem perceber me visita
No revoar de suas tranças
Abro seus laços de fitas
entrelaçadas lembranças

O Chato (samba). This samba de partido alto salutes the inconvenient types who commonly frequent rodas de samba. Guest appearances by Paulino Dias & Pretinho. Arrangement by Lenildo Gomes.

Tirou retrato, virou memória
O maior mala da história
Tem a mania de ser gaiato
Porque se orgulha de ser chato

Rio, por um Dia (samba). An homage to the city of Rio de Janeiro and to the lyricist Aldir Blanc, who is Luiz Flavio and Jayme Vignoli’s co-author in “Bolinhos de Bacalhais” (recorded by Walter Alfaiate) and “Volante de Contenção” (recorded by Nadinho da Ilha). We decided to close the disc with this song as a way of reconciling the various genres and sonorities found in the carioca “songbook.” Note Kiko Horta’s accordion and Paulino Dias’ cuíca. Arrangement by Luiz Flavio Alcofra.

Rio do Aldir
Rio do Millôr
Rio do Cristo
Nosso Senhor
De braços abertos
Sobre a velha guarda

Cordel das Fitas: Cordel das Fitas
(Independent; 2002) 33:47 min.

01. O Alfaiate e a Donzela (Luiz Flavio Alcofra/Lenildo Gomes)
02. Desamparada (Lenildo Gomes)
03. Pra Não Ficar Triste (Lenildo Gomes)
04. Oré Moreira (Luiz Flavio Alcofra)
05. Velho Casarão (Lenildo Gomes)—Mariana Bernardes
06. Cinema Absurdo (Lenildo Gomes)
07. O Dono da Venda (Lenildo Gomes)
08. Cordel das Fitas (Luiz Flavio Alcofra/Lenildo Gomes)
09. Noturna (Luiz Flavio Alcofra/Lenildo Gomes)
10. O Chato (Luiz Flavio Alcofra/Lenildo Gomes)
11. Rio, por um Dia (Luiz Flavio Alcofra)


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