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


Brazil’s Meistersinger

Z Luiz Mazziotti does it again
with a virtuoso tribute
to Chico Buarque.

Daniella Thompson

26 April 2003

Z Luiz Mazziotti

Z Luiz Mazziotti is a singer’s singer. His warm baritone, impeccable vocal technique, and sensitive expressiveness have made him one of Brazil’s most respected vocalists. Since he began singing in the mid ’60s, Mazziotti has always worked with the best arrangers, musicians, and singers the country has to offer.

Why is it, then, that Mazziotti is one of the best-kept secrets of MPB? Not that he’s the only one—the Brazilian music industry has plenty of superb talent to waste, and waste it it does, quite consistently. Thus it came to pass that Mazziotti’s eighth album is an independent production. For the same reason, his two most recent discs are dedicated to single (and famous) songwriters—Paulinho da Viola and Chico Buarque—whereas the previous solo discs were well diversified, mixing Mazziotti’s own compositions with those of various composers, some well known, others less so.

“It used to be that one could make discs with great freedom. Today one makes ‘projects,’” says Mazziotti. “Of course I adored recording Paulinho and Chico—imagine the honor I had—but it also results in something more saleable, while an album of unknown songs would be more in the line of a singer whose career was far more commercially successful than mine.”

Mazziotti has been singing Chico Buarque since 1986, when he was living in Paris. A friend had sent him five cassette tapes of Chico’s songs, and he began to study the lyrics, turn them inside out, and learn their subtleties. Practically all the songs in his new CD Z Luiz Mazziotti canta Chico Buarque have been in his repertoire for years.

Neither top-notch material nor superb interpretation are enough to lure a record company these days. “We have marvelous artists in Brazil,” says the singer, “but unfortunately, with this turn that the world has taken in terms of music quality (and not just in music but in all the arts),they all remain hidden, doing beautiful work that doesn’t get out, because record companies want only money; they’re no longer interested in preserving the best popular music in the world—Brazilian music. This type of music is a very difficult product to sell, and all the record labels I approached posed obstacles.” If this disc exists, it is thanks to a friend of Mazziotti’s who ran around to obtain sponsorship. Like many of the best discs produced in Brazil (including some by Tom Jobim and Dorival Caymmi), Z Luiz Mazziotti canta Chico Buarque was used as the sponsors’ exclusive Christmas gift last year. However, Mazziotti retained the rights to the recording and is now releasing it independently via his new website.

Selecting from an initial list of 40 songs, Mazziotti recorded three of Chico’s early tunes—“Carolina” (1967), “Ela Desatinou” and “Mulher, Vou Dizer Quanto Te Amo” (the latter two of 1968). The other nine all date from the ’80s, a fertile decade for the composer. Chico joins Z Luiz in “Cad Voc,” a Joo Donato tune known as “Leila XIV” in its instrumental incarnation. Recalling his Paris days, Mazziotti sings one song in French. It’s “Dis-moi comment,” which is Chico’s version of “Eu Te Amo” (1980), written in 1994 for a performance at the Olympia music hall in Paris.

Accompanying the singer on this album is a quintet he declares to be the band of his dreams: Marcus Teixeira (guitar and musical direction), Fbio Torres (piano), Keco Brando (keyboards), Paulo Paulelli (bass), and Celso de Almeida (drums). These musicians, who also accompany Rosa Passos, wrote all the arrangements for the disc.

Z Luiz Mazziotti canta Chico Buarque is as much Z Luiz Mazziotti as it is Chico Buarque. Strong on emotion, strong on musicality, it is a testament to the enduring power of the best in Brazilian popular music—even when this music has to go underground to survive.

Z Luiz Mazziotti: Z Luiz Mazziotti canta Chico Buarque
(Independent LMCD 0176; 2003) 47:24 min.

01. Embarcao (Francis Hime/Chico Buarque)
02. Cad Voc (Joo Donato/Chico Buarque)—w/ Chico Buarque
03. Almanaque (Chico Buarque)
04. Mulher, Vou Dizer Quanto Eu Te Amo (Chico Buarque)
05. Meninos, Eu Vi (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Chico Buarque)
06. O Velho Francisco (Chico Buarque)
07. As Vitrines (Chico Buarque)
08. Ela Desatinou (Chico Buarque)
09. Tantas Palavras (Dominguinhos/Chico Buarque)
10. Carolina (Chico Buarque)
11. Dis-moi comment [Eu Te Amo] (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Chico Buarque)
12. Estao Derradeira (Chico Buarque)


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