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


 

Saudade do Nordeste

Teca Calazans & Heraldo do Monte pay a
quietly memorable tribute to their shared past.

Daniella Thompson

4 August 2003


“Seca no Sertão” (photo: Marco Antônio)

Singer Teca Calazans and ace guitarist Heraldo do Monte both hail from Pernambuco. She is Paris-based, he lives in São Paulo, and they haven’t worked together in the past. In addition to having recorded the work of Pixinguinha, Villa-Lobos, and songs discovered by Mário de Andrade (not to mention numerous other albums containing little-known pearls), Teca is the force behind historic reissues such as Musique du Nordeste Vol. 1: 1916–1945 and Vol. 2: 1928–1946 (Buda Musique) and Le Chant du Nordeste 1928–1950 (Frémeaux & Associés).

Happily for lovers of nordestino music, Teca and Heraldo teamed up recently on a duo album released without fanfare and titled simply Teca Calazans & Heraldo do Monte. Heraldo plays viola nordestina and acoustic guitar, while Teca sings and plays percussion. Together they string a modest but beautiful chain of regional songs—a few of them relatively recent, most duly aged; some famous, some rare.

The two expatriate artists appropriately start off with “Último Pau de Arara,” a song lamenting the need to migrate south in the wake of yet another drought. Pau-de-arara was the name given to the trucks that conveyed nordestino migrants on their long treks to the cities of the south. In this little masterpiece, first recorded by Venâncio and Corumba in 1956, the Paraiban sertanejo swears that he will leave his beloved Cariri only on the last truck.

A vida aqui só é ruim
Quando não chove no chão
Mas se chover dá de tudo
Fartura tem de porção
Tomara que chova logo
Tomara, meu Deus tomara
Só deixo o meu Cariri
No último pau-de-arara
[...]

The lovely canção “Guacyra” was first recorded in 1933 by the matinée idol Raul Roulien and 20 years later—in baião rhythm—by the accordionist Mário Zan, who managed to get an author’s credit on the disc label alongside the real songwriters, the Alagoano Hekel Tavares, “o Schubert brasileiro,” and the carioca lyricist Joracy Camargo. In 1994, João Gilberto added his interpretation in the live CD Eu Sei que Vou Te Amar. Teca’s vocals and Heraldo’s viola exude all the tenderness that this message of longing requires.

Adeus Guacyra, meu pedacinho de terra
Meu pé de serra
Que nem Deus sabe onde está
Adeus Guacyra, onde a lua pequenina
Não encontra na colina
Nem um lago pra se olhar
Eu vou me embora
Mas eu volto nestes dias
Virgem Maria tudo há de permitir
E se ela não quizer
Eu vou morrer cheio de fé,
Pensando em ti

Elomar recorded “O Pidido” in one of his early albums, Das Barrancas do Rio Gavião (1972). The song resurfaced in the composer’s Auto da Catingueira (1983), this time in an erudite rendition sung by Andrea Daltro, accompanied by cellist Jaques Morelenbaum. Heraldo do Monte’s minimalist viola conveys Elomar’s world with a few Zen brushstrokes, while Teca lends the song a proper regional feel.

Já qui tu vai lá prá fêra
Traga di lá para mim
Água da fulô que chera
Um nuvelo e um carrim
Trais um pacote de misse
Meu amigo ah se tu visse
Aquele cego cantadô!
[...]

Before singing the rojão “Catirina” in a 1972 appearance on the TV program MPB Especial (released on CD in the series A Música Brasileira deste Século por seus Autores e Intérpretes), Jackson do Pandeiro reminisced that he had heard the song in Campina Grande when he was a boy, adding that it was the first rojão recorded in Brazil. Could Jackson have heard the song’s author Jararaca sing “Catirina”? If so, the recording is not documented in the Funarte database of 78-rpm records. On the other hand, two other Jararaca compositions in the rojão genre were recorded in 1937. Appearing on sides A and B of Odeon 11582 (released in April 1938, when Jackson was 18), “Do Pilá” and “Engenho Moedo” were composed and performed by Jararaca, Zé do Bambo, and Augusto Calheiros. Unless an undocumented early recording of “Catirina” exists, “Do Pilá” and “Engenho Moedo” take the trophy for oldest rojão recordings. The only known recording preceding Jackson’s own interpretations (in MPB Especial and the 1973 LP Sina de Cigarra) was made in 1950 by Trio Melodia (Paulo Tapajós, Nuno Roland & Albertinho Fortuna). In that year, Jackson was 31 years old—hardly a menino.

A rojão, characterized by Jackson as martelado (hammered), is a northeastern cantoria form that narrates the singer’s exploits, or those of another person known in the region. Catirina’s exploits were many, and Teca sings them in an especially lively style—even livelier than Jackson’s 1972 rendition.

[...] Catirina batia no zabumba
E tocava viola e ganzá
Ela era o prazer, a alegria
No recanto, na vila, no arraiá
Já velhinha, por onde ela passava
Todo o povo, baixinho perguntava:
Catirina, cadê...

“Amo-te Muito” is a rural modinha from Montes Claros in northern Minas Gerais. It was composed in the 1910s by the lawyer and poet João Chaves, a famous seresteiro. This celebrated serenade was a favorite of President Juscelino Kubitschek.

“Casamento,” a song from Teca’s partnership with Ricardo Vilas, begins with a refrain that she picked up in Santo Amaro, Recife—an emphatic statement of romantic revolt:

Faz quinze dias que acabei meu casamento
Havia muito que o nosso amor foi embora
[bis]
Tão cedo agora, não quero mais namorado
O que eu dei, não quero nada
[bis]

The ending, however, is much less unequivocal:

Teu amor faz machucar
Com o tempo tudo passa
Tanto a dor quanto a desgraça
Fique descansado
Moreno como é que eu posso
Me afastar de quem eu gosto
Um dia desse eu volto

James Tomás Florence, who went by the artistic name Jayme Florence, was known to all as Meira. The Pernambuco-born guitarist was also a composer, with close to 70 recordings on 78-rpm discs. The beautiful valsa-canção “Falando ao Teu Retrato” was recorded in 1935 by Augusto Calheiros.

Na ilusão de um novo amor
Deixas-te o nosso lar
Enquanto louca sonhadora
Busquei-te sem cessar
Voltando ao lar abandonado
Apaixonada eu juro sem querer chorei
E ao ver o seu retrato amado
Num desvario louco
Tudo lhe falei
[...]

Another legendary guitarist, Laurindo de Almeida, composed the canção “Minha Saudade,” which Aracy de Almeida recorded in 1940.

Sinto uma saudade de você
E do rancho de sapê
Minha viola não mais geme
Que maldade!
[...]

“No Tronco da Amendoeira” is a batuque amaxixado by Djalma Esteves and Milton de Oliveira (the latter was Haroldo Lobo’s most constant partner). It was a 1939 hit in the voice of Patrício Teixeira. Carmélia Alves recorded it in the LP Eis Haroldo Lobo e Milton de Oliveira (Mocambo LP 40068). Unfortunately, Carmélia’s track didn’t make it to the CD reissue (InterCDRecords R31003). Teca Calazans noted that this song maintains the rural flavor of old Rio.

No tronco da amendoeira, tem
Seu nome gravado, tem
O dia marcado, Oi
Que eu te encontrei meu bem
E sobre a Amendoeira
Que me esperas todo dia
Quando a tarde vai caindo
Ao soar da Ave Maria
Minha alegria é te ver
Sempre a meu lado
Debaixo da Amendoeira
Como eterno namorado

José Barbosa da Silva “Sinhô,” O Rei do Samba, was carioca born and bred, which didn’t stop him from composing rural songs. In 1929, the year before he died, Sinhô released on record the toada-cateretê “Casinha de Sapé,” the coco “Campineiro,” and the sambas “Segura o Boi” and “Carga de Burro.” The choro “Chequerê,” recorded by Januário de Oliveira, belongs to the same vintage. Also from the same period is “Acauã,” which Teca recorded in Alma de Tupi (2000) and with Heraldo do Monte in the recent live group CD Cantoria Brasileira.

Não calculas como sofre
O meu pobre coração
Por faltar o teu carinho
Junto de meu violão
E assim é tudo enfim
Meu doce chequerê
Mas eu não me conformo
Viver longe de você
Vem depressa sem demora
Pra eu não mais viver em vão
Que as saudades já são tantas
Dentro do meu coração

“Violeiro Triste,” a toada by Alvarenga & Ranchinho, received its first recording by the composers in 1937. According to Teca, that recording is faster than hers and progresses in thirds that are typical to caipira duos. Teca and Heraldo’s interpretation is lyrically melancholy.

[...] Aqui na mata
Tenho tudo que eu quero
Tenho o canto do bodero
Tenho o céu e a natureza
E quando a lua vem saindo
Que beleza
Só me falta um amor
Pra matar minha tristeza

One of Teca’s most popular show staples is the rapid-fire “Secretária do Diabo,” which was made famous by Jackson do Pandeiro in the LP O Cabra da Peste (1963).

O diabo quando não vem
Manda o secretário
Eu não vou nessa canoa
Que eu não sou otário
Eu reconheço que ela é muito boa
Mas não vou nessa canoa
Que dá confusão
[...]

Like the perennial songs it offers in such pure and quietly expert fashion, Teca Calazans & Heraldo do Monte is destined to endure and give pleasure for years to come.

More information and complete song lyrics are available here.

Teca Calazans & Heraldo do Monte
(Kuarup KCD175; 2003) 38:42 min.

01. Último Pau de Arara (Venâncio/Corumba/José Guimarães)
02. Guacyra (Hekel Tavares/Joracy Camargo)
03. O Pidido (Elomar)
04. Catirina (José Luiz Calazans “Jararaca”)
05. Amo-te Muito (João Chaves)
06. Casamento (Teca Calazans/Ricardo Vilas)
07. Falando ao Teu Retrato (Jayme Florence “Meira”/De Chocolate)
08. Minha Saudade (Laurindo de Almeida)
09. No Tronco da Amendoeira (Djalma Esteves/Milton de Oliveira)
10. Chequerê (José Barbosa da Silva “Sinhô”)
11. Violeiro Triste (Alvarenga/Ranchinho)
12. A Secretária do Diabo (Oswaldo Oliveira/Reinaldo Costa)

 


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