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


The essential Paulinho da Viola

TV Globo 1980 Grandes Nomes show on DVD.

Daniella Thompson

2 July 2007

In 1980, Globo TV aired the series Grandes Nomes, which featured hour-long presentations by the flower of popular Brazilian music. The fourth show in the series was Paulo César Baptista de Faria, dedicated to Paulinho da Viola.

Paulinho is the glory of samba—its most elegant proponent, brilliant songwriter, and a singularly moving singer. Everything he does carries unimpeachable credibility and refined taste. He eschews all flash and artifice, homing in on the essential. No one else can be so authentically rooted and high-toned all at once.

The TV show Paulo César Baptista de Faria first aired in June 1980, when Paulinho, born in November 1942, was 37 years old. He had just emerged from his most productive decade, during which he released an album practically every year and sometimes two in a year, and had fifteen years of musical accomplishments to look back on.

Paulo César Baptista de Faria condenses those fifteen years into several chapters presented not as a documentary (for that, see Paulinho da Viola: Meu Tempo É Hoje, 2003) but as an evolving stage show.

Paulinho, all in white, opens the show in a solo performance, accompanied by his guitar and orchestra or percussion as the occasion requires. The three songs progress from the meditative “Sinal Fechado” to syncopated samba (“Coisas do Mundo Minha Nega”) and samba-canção (“Nervos de Aço”).

In the second segment Paulinho, armed with a cavaquinho, calls to the stage his old buddies from the days of Rosa de Ouro and Os Cinco Crioulos: Elton Medeiros, Jair do Cavaquinho, Anescarazinho do Salgueiro, Nelson Sargento da Mangueira. Attacking on guitar, two cavaquinhos, and two tamborins, the five launch into a medley of the tunes they had sung seventeen years earlier, each singing his own composition.

Paulinho returns alone and, still on cavaquinho (his father Cesar Faria, plays guitar behind him) sings “Pecado Capital.” He could could continue alone forever, as far as I’m concerned, but “Aquela Felicidade” gains tenderness from the presence Zezé Motta in a lovely duet. Zezé follows with the warhorse “Senhora Liberdade,” with Paulinho accompanying on cavaquinho.

The next segment is devoted to instrumental music, hosting several great musicians who are no longer on the scene. The choro string begins with a a clarinet solo by Copinha (1910–1984) in Luiz Americano’s “Numa Seresta” and continues with the left-handed guitarist Canhoto da Paraíba (b. 1928) in “Forró do Xenhenhem.” Radamés Gnattali (1906–1988) and Copinha bring the set to a close in “Sarau para Radamés.”

Gnattali (who wrote the show’s arrangements with maestro Gaya) also accompanies Paulinho on piano in “Coração Imprudente,” which serves as an elegant transition into the next segment, a roda de samba with the participation of the Velha Guarda da Portela, founded by Paulinho in 1970. There is nothing more delightful than watching Paulinho, dapper in a white linen suit, hat, and two-tone shoes, dance the miudinho, followed by the veterans of his escola de samba.

The show concludes with several sambas composed at Portela. Moving and uplifting is Manacéa’s rendition of his samba “Quantas Lágrimas.” Casquinha, who looks and sounds like a stevedore, makes a powerful complement to Paulinho’s lyrical voice in their joint composition, “Recado.”

In a grand blue-and-while finale, Paulinho and the Velha Guarda da Portela belt out “Foi um Rio que Passou em Minha Vida.” In any other artist’s show, this would have been the final number. But not here. Paulinho, who could have ended with one of his own compositions. Instead, he pays homage to Portela’s founder, singing “Cantar Para Não Chorar.” It’s the fitting conclusion to a stirring presentation.

Paulinho da Viola: Paulo César Batista de Faria
Série Grandes Nomes, TV Globo, Episode 4, aired 6 June 1980
(Globo Marcas/Som Livre/Trama DVD 13335; 2006) 56 min.

Musical director & producer: Guto Graça Mello
Show director: Daniel Filho

01. Sinal Fechado (Paulinho da Viola)
02. Coisas do Mundo Minha Nega (Paulinho da Viola)
03. Nervos de Aço (Lupicínio Rodrigues)
04. Potpourri: Quatro Crioulos (Elton Medeiros/Joacyr Santana)
      Rosa de Ouro (Hermínio Bello de Carvalho/Elton Medeiros/
      Paulinho da Viola)
      O Sol Nascerá (Cartola/Elton Medeiros)
      Primavera (Nelson Sargento/Alfredo Português/José Bispo “Jamelão”)
      Água do Rio (Anescar do Salgueiro/Noel Rosa Oliveira)
      Pecadora (Jair da Costa/Joãozinho)
05. Pode Guardar as Panelas (Paulinho da Viola)
06. Guardei Minha Viola (Paulinho da Viola)
      Guests: Elton Medeiros, Jair do Cavaquinho, Anescarazinho do Salgueiro,
      Nelson Sargento da Mangueira

07. Pecado Capital (Paulinho da Viola)
08. Aquela Felicidade (Paulinho da Viola) guest: Zezé Motta
09. Senhora Liberdade (Nei Lopes/Wilson Moreira) guest: Zezé Motta
10. Numa Seresta (Luiz Americano) guest: Copinha
11. Forró do Xenhenhem (Cecéu) guest: Canhoto da Paraíba
12. Sarau para Radamés (Paulinho da Viola) guest: Radamés Gnattali
13. Coração Imprudente (Paulinho da Viola/Capinan) guest: Radamés Gnattali
14. Miudinho (traditional, adpt. Bucy Moreira/Monarco/Raul Marques)
15. Quantas Lágrimas (Manacéa) guest: Manacéa
16. Recado (Paulinho da Viola/Casquinha) guest: Casquinha
17. Foi um Rio que Passou em Minha Vida (Paulinho da Viola)
18. Cantar Para Não Chorar (Paulo da Portela/Heitor dos Prazeres)


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