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


 

An angel’s voice from
the heart of Brazil

Renato Braz’s not-so-quixotic
quest for the poetic.

Daniella Thompson

5 February 2003


Renato Braz at the
Visa Awards competition

Eh Minas, Eh Minas
É hora de partir, eu vou
Vou-me embora pra bem longe...

If the Prêmio Visa da MPB is any indication, then paulista composer Eduardo Gudin is Brazil’s best talent spotter. Two vocalist awards have been handed out since the Visa competition’s inception in 1998, and both went to alumni of Gudin’s vocal group Notícias dum Brasil: Mônica Salmaso in 1999 and Renato Braz in 2002.

The two winning artists have much in common, not least a lyrical singing style and a predominantly poetic repertoire that combines folk songs (for lack of a better adjective), MPB classics, and lesser-known compositions by modern songwriters. In other words, nothing that streaks up the charts, hence the title of Braz’s latest album: Quixote.

Quixote was also the pseudonym under which Braz entered the Visa competition, and “Dulcinea”—the song Don Quixote sings to the sullen kitchen wench Aldonza in Man of La Mancha—is one of the songs he recorded (in Jacques Brel’s French version) on his previous CD, Outro Quilombo (2002). In the same disc he also sings the ethereal “Segue o Teu Destino” (Follow your destiny), a poem by Fernando Pessoa set to music by Sueli Costa.

Quixote is the singer’s fourth album, his prize for winning the Visa competition. Quixotically or not, in this disc Braz continues following his destiny, doing what he’s been doing since he began his solo recording career. Here we encounter the same earthy caboclo redolence found in Renato Braz (1996), História Antiga (1998), and Outro Quilombo. Braz often sings of the sertão, of workers and country folk, of fruits of the earth, of singularly Brazilian scenes and situations. The songs he chooses are always carefully crafted, with lyrics that speak to the heart.

What sets Braz apart from the current generation of singers is his beautiful, clear tenor voice, devoid of artifice and most notably employed in the high registers. In Quixote he puts the high notes to good use in classics that span seven decades, such as the toadas “Tristeza do Jeca,” “A Saudade Mata a Gente,” and “Desenredo” and the sambas “O Canto das Três Raças” and “Todo Menino É um Rei.”

A newer song poised to become a standard is Zeca Baleiro’s melodious lullaby “Canção prá Ninar um Neguim,” ideally suited to the singer’s angelic timbre and the two-guitar arrangement executed by Renato and his close friend Mario Gil. But my favorite track on this disc is the samba “Não Vim prá Ficar,” which bears all the telltale marks of its authors, Wilson das Neves and Paulo Cesar Pinheiro. Accompanied by Renato’s guitar, Pretinho’s tamborim, and a jazzy soprano sax wielded by Teco Cardoso, it closes the album in a most delectable way.

The Visa prize made possible the inclusion of heavyweight musicians, among them Luciana Rabello (cavaquinho), Sizão Machado (bass), and Toninho Ferragutti (accordion). The legendary guitarist Théo de Barros steps in for “Disparada,” Chico César lends a voice to the caipira duet in “Vida da Semana,” and Alaíde Costa joins her emotion-laden interpretation to Renato’s pure high vocals in “Onde Está Você,” arranged for strings and piano by Laércio de Freitas. Dori Caymmi, who arranged much of História Antiga, contributed string arrangements to “Desenredo” and “A Saudade Mata a Gente.”

Like everything Renato Braz does, Quixote is a disc to savor at leisure and with attention.

Renato Braz: Quixote
(Eldorado 278407; 2002) 64:20 min.

01. Intro: O Trenzinho do Caipira (Heitor Villa-Lobos)
      Desenredo (Dori Caymmi/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro)
02. Canteiro de Obra (Wilson Moreira/Sérgio Fonseca)
03. Comunhão (Mario Gil)
04. O Velho Francisco (Chico Buarque de Hollanda)
05. A Saudade Mata a Gente (João de Barro/Antonio de Almeida)
06. Disparada (Théo de Barros/Geraldo Vandré)—w/ Théo de Barros
07. Tristeza do Jeca (Angelino de Oliveira)
08. Amiga (Edson Trindade/Cleonice)
09. Vida da Semana (Riachão)—w/ Chico César
10. O Canto das Três Raças (Mauro Duarte/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro)
11. Canção prá Ninar um Neguim (Zeca Baleiro)
12. Onde Está Você (Oscar Castro Neves/Luvercy Fiorini)—w/ Alaíde Costa
13. Todo Menino É um Rei (Nelson Rufino/Zé Luiz)
14. Não Vim prá Ficar (Wilson das Neves/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro)

Renato Braz: Outro Quilombo
(Atração Fonográfica ATR 21299; 2002) 48:55 min.

01. Outro Quilombo (Mario Gil/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro)
02. Okolofé [Jongo] (Wilson Moreira)
03. Frutos da Terra (Jurandy da Feira)
04. Crença (Chico César/Paquito)
05. Quero Ficar com Você (Caetano Veloso)
06. Dulcinea (Mitch Leigh/Jacques Brel)
07. L’Internationale (Pierre Degeyter/Eugene Pottier)
08. Na Ribeira Deste Rio (Dori Caymmi/Fernando Pessoa)
09. Acqua Marcia (Ivan Lins/Marina Colasanti)
10. Fiz uma Viagem (Dorival Caymmi)
11. Segue o Teu Destino (Sueli Costa/Fernando Pessoa)
12. Cruzeiro do Sul (Jean & Paulo Garfunkel)
13. Casinha Feliz (Gilberto Gil)

 


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