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


 

Beautifully Miúcha

The singer delights again
with songs off the beaten track,
majestically presented.

Daniella Thompson

30 April 2002

She was the one singing uncredited backup in “Izaura” on João Gilberto’s 1973 white album. There she was again in The Best of Two Worlds (1976), her photo on the cover with João Gilberto and Stan Getz but her name unmentioned in the credits, although she sang four songs—two of them solos in English.

She is Heloísa Maria Buarque de Hollanda, better known as Miúcha.

Recognition came at last when she recorded Miúcha & Antonio Carlos Jobim and Tom - Vinicius - Toquinho - Miúcha Ao Vivo no Canecão (both in 1977), followed by Miúcha & Tom (1979).

Her first two solo albums, both eponymous, were released in 1980 and 1988, respectively. It was here that she came into her own, recording the little-explored repertoire that has since become her signature. The first LP included Lamartine Babo’s “Joujoux e Balangandãs” (from the 1939 musical revue that launched Ary Barroso’s “Aquarela do Brasil”), sung in duet with the 14-year old Bebel; “All of Me” with João Gilberto on guitar (he would record it the following year in Brasil, just as he recorded “Joujoux e Balangandãs” in his 1980 live Globo TV album); Geraldo Pereira’s “Cabritada Mal Sucedida”; “Canção do Desamor Demais” by João Donato & Cacaso; and “Que É, Que É” (Bororó/Evágrio Lopes), again accompanied by João. The disc introduced that beautiful paean to carnaval ranchos of yesteryear, “Santo Amaro” (Luiz Claudio Ramos/Franklin da Flauta/Aldir Blanc), which the singer would reprise in Rosa Amarela.

In her second solo LP, Miúcha regaled us with four songs by Guinga and Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, and with Caetano Veloso’s “Saudosismo,” a spellbinding tribute to João Gilberto and to Tom Jobim’s “Fotografia.”

1999 saw the release of Vivendo Vinicius Ao Vivo with Baden Powell, Carlos Lyra, Miúcha & Toquinho and of the singer’s long-awaited third solo disc, Rosa Amarela, which had been released in Japan a year earlier. Among the pearls presented here were “Cabrochinha” (Mauricio Carrilho/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro), whose only other recording was made by Família Roitman; “A Mesma Rosa Amarela” by Capiba and Carlos Pena Filho; “Pressentimento” (Elton Medeiros/Hermínio Bello de Carvalho); “Santo Amaro” again; “Por Causa Desta Cabocla” (Ary Barroso/Luiz Peixoto); and Paulinho da Viola’s gorgeous “Só o Tempo.”

Now comes Miúcha.compositores, produced by José Milton.

What a lovely disc. Miúcha’s choice of repertoire is, as always, impeccable. So are her interpretations. She tips her hat to several sacred monsters with whom she’d been closely associated—Vinicius, who was an intimate friend of her father’s, Tom Jobim, her brother Chico—but the songs she selects are never the obvious ones.

The samba “Pode Ir” has been published in both the Carlos Lyra and the Vinicius de Moraes Lumiar songbooks but wasn’t recorded on their songbook CDs. Despite its age, the song appears to have been discovered by vocalists only in the past few years, when it was recorded by Wanda Sá with Bossa Três, Leny Andrade, and Os Cariocas. Miúcha’s version receives from Leandro Braga a full string arrangement à la Tom Jobim, featuring Braga’s piano, João Lyra’s guitar, the flutes of Andréa Ernest Dias and Dirceu Leite, and Carlos Bala’s drums. The first violin is Bernardo Bessler, and the cellists are Yura Ranevsky, Marco Malard, and Jacques Morelenbaum, just to give an idea of the instrumental caliber put to work here. The vocalist gives the lyrics a light tone that doesn’t fail to expose the underlying heartbreak:

Pode Ir
(Carlos Lyra/Vinicius de Moraes)

Pode ir
Pode fazer o que melhor entender
Mesmo porque, cada um sabe de si.
Mas se você
Quiser brincar com quem te deu amor
Alguém provavelmente
Vai amargurar a grande dor
De ver alguém também
Querer partir
Porque partir é repartir,
Não vê
É se perder...
Nesse mar
Por ai
Mas você quer brincar
Quer fingir
Pode ir e depois chorar

The only known partnership between João Donato and Tom Jobim, “Quando a Lembrança Me Vem” was discovered recently by Paulo Jobim amid his father’s papers. Composed in the 1950s, this tender and whimsical samba-canção is arranged by Donato for piano, trombone (both his own), guitar (Paulo Jobim), saxophones, flutes (Ricardo Pontes & Zé Carlos), fluegelhorn (Bidinho), bass (Jorge Helder), and drums (Robertinho Silva):

Sei que não devo pensar
Naquele amor infeliz
Tudo que eu tinha pra dar
Você não quis
[...]

“Canção Inédita” was sung by Chico Buarque in the soundtrack of the 2001 stage musical Cambaio. Whereas her brother’s recording came with a grand orchestration befitting a filmscore, Miúcha’s version is more intimate, beginning with a solo guitar before the strings sweep in. Cristovão Bastos (who arranged) augments the atmosphere in his piano’s dialog with the singer.

Another recent song is “Fox e Trote, debuted last year in Guinga’s Cine Baronesa. The melody was inspired by Gershwin’s foxtrot “Walking the Dog” (aka “Promenade”), from the 1937 Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movie Shall We Dance, and Miúcha’s delicious interpretation evokes more of the original than does Guinga’s (listen to a midi of “Walking the Dog”). Her ending at Levei um trote trill the Rs hilariously. What a perfect conclusion for a ditty that revels in disorientation. The danceband arrangement by Eduardo Souto Neto includes piano (Cristovão Bastos), bass (Jorge Helder), drums (Carlos Bala), electric guitar (João Lyra), clarinet (Dirceu Leite), two alto saxes (Zé Canuto & Ricardo Pontes), two tenor saxes (Marcelo Martins & Daniel Garcia), trumpet (Jessé Sadoc), and trombone (Aldivas Ayres).

[...] Como orações pentecostais
louvando Zumbi
Como free-ways monumentais
pra daqui e ali
Ou certas leis que o homem faz
pra não se cumprir
Foi como um trio elétrico em
um funeral
mandando funk, rap geral
[...]

“Tomara” had a brief run in the 1970s, when it was recorded by Dick Farney & Claudette Soares, Tito Madi, and Alaíde Costa. It appears to be one of a handful of Brazilian boleros whose melodies borrow freely from “La Mentira” by the Mexican songwriter Alvaro Carrillo. Here it’s given a piano, string, and wind arrangement by Helvius Vilela.

“Cor de Cinza, written by Noel Rosa in 1933, wasn’t recorded until the 1950s. Aracy de Almeida was the first. Then came Jards Macalé and Ivan Lins in the ’90s. The lyrics are shrouded in mystery, revealing little of the story behind the song, and Miúcha lends them the right touch of sadness and opacity in Leandro Braga’s setting:

Cor de Cinza
(Noel Rosa)

Com seu aparecimento
Todo o céu ficou cinzento
E São Pedro zangado
Depois, um carro de praça
Partiu e fez fumaça
Com destino ignorado Não durou muito a chuva
E eu achei uma luva
Depois que ela desceu
A luva é um documento
Com que provo o esquecimento
Daquela que me esqueceu Ao ver um carro cinzento
Com a cruz do sofrimento
Bem vermelha na porta
Fugi impressionado
Sem ter perguntado
Se ela estava viva ou morta A poeira cinzenta
Da dúvida me atormenta
Não sei se ela morreu
A luva é um documento
De pelica e bem cinzento
Que lembra quem me esqueceu

Like “Tomara,” the samba “E Daí?” flourished during a very short period, in this case 1959 and 1960, when it was committed to wax in quick succession by Elizeth Cardoso, Aracy de Almeida, Isaura Garcia, and Maysa (Jards Macalé would be its lone voice in the '70s). It’s a story of persecuted love surmounting all odds, and Helvius Vilela’s setting is faithful to the content: the tentative voice and piano beginning gives way to exuberance and confidence in flutes (Carlos Malta & Andréa Ernest Dias), clarinet (Cristiano Alves), and trombone (Aldivas Ayres).

“Solidão” is an exquisite song that João Gilberto sings in his concerts but hasn’t recorded. It was one of Tom Jobim’s earliest compositions, written in 1954 and launched by Nora Ney. Caetano Veloso recorded it in Totalmente Demais, and there’s a very touching version by Zezé Gonzaga & Mauricio Carrilho in Songbook Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vol. 5. Here Leandro Braga’s beautifully spare piano caresses Miúcha’s equally spare delivery. They’re joined by a subdued electric guitar (Ricardo Silveira), a muted fluegelhorn (Jessé Sadoc), and a gentle rhythm section.

Solidão
(Antonio Carlos Jobim/Alcides Fernandes)

Sofro calado
Na solidão
Guardo comigo a memória do teu vulto em vão
Eu tudo fiz por você
E o resultado, desilusão
O dia passa, a noite vem,
A solução deste caso eu cansei de buscar
Eu vou rezar
Pra você me querer
Outra vez, como um dia me quis
Quando a saudade aperta
Não se acanhe comigo
Pode me procurar

Another older song, this one receiving its first recording, is the delightful rumba “Tempo de Amar” by João Donato and Miúcha. The pair frolics through this charming bagatelle with great relish. Donato’s arrangement includes piano, flutes, alto and tenor saxes, trumpet, fluegelhorn, bass, and percussion.

The samba-canção “Lembre-Se” is one of Miúcha’s tributes to Vinicius, as it was Elizeth Cardoso’s in 1963:

[...] Tudo na vida tem fim
Só a beleza não se desfaz
A flor colhida com mais amor
É a flor que dura mais
[...]

“Refém da Solidão” received at least seven recordings from its composer, Baden Powell, and two more from its lyricist, Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, in addition to Elizeth Cardoso’s version (Elizeth so often pointed the way for other singers to follow). Helvius Vilela’s arrangement is energetic, beefed up with brass.

“Vento Levou” gets here its first recording, yet this samba-canção belongs to the same bolero tribe that sprang from the loins of “La Mentira” and that numbers among its members João Bosco’s “Latin Lover” and Donato’s “Os Caminhos.” It’s appropriately swaddled in a smooth blanket of piano and strings, woven by Cristovão Bastos.

Vinicius makes another appearance in a partnership with Francis Hime called “A Dor a Mais” that was recorded in the ’70s by Nana Caymmi. The track begins with a piano quotation of “Medo de Amar” and segues into a vocal opening that sounds very much like “Moonlight in Vermont” before wandering off into another realm and returning to “Medo de Amar” at the close. Francis Hime wrote the beautiful arrangement and plays the piano.

The disc closes with a deeply moving duet of “Você, Você, in which the singer is accompanied only by Guinga’s guitar. A perfect moment.




Miúcha.Compositores
(Biscoito Fino BF-512; 2002) 54:47 min.

01. Pode Ir (Carlos Lyra/Vinicius de Moraes)
02. Quando a Lembrança Me Vem (João Donato/Tom Jobim)
03. Canção Inédita (Edu Lobo/Chico Buarque)
04. Fox e Trote (Guinga/Nei Lopes)
05. Tomara (Novelli/Maurício Tapajós/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro)
06. Cor de Cinza (Noel Rosa)
07. E Daí? (Miguel Gustavo)
08. Solidão (Tom Jobim/Alcides Fernandes)
09. Tempo de Amar (João Donato/Miúcha)
10. Lembre-Se (Moacir Santos/Vinicius de Moraes)
11. Refém da Solidão (Baden Powell/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro)
12. Vento Levou (Cristovão Bastos/Abel Silva)
13. A Dor a Mais (Francis Hime/Vinicius de Moraes)
14. Você, Você (Guinga/Chico Buarque)

 


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