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


 

When samba-canção was hot

With Copacabana, Trovadores Urbanos
revive the Fifties in suitably nostalgic style.

Daniella Thompson

24 June 2003


Trovadores Urbanos do the 1950s

The paulista vocal quartet Trovadores Urbanos is unabashedly old-fashioned. Maída Novaes, Juca Novaes, Edu Santana, and Valéria Caram have been singing old songs all their lives and banded together in 1990 with a clear mission. Since then, they have released five CDs of vintage songs and recruited 50 musicians who help spread the seresta gospel in live shows.

The Trovadores’ fourth CD was devoted to the songs of São Paulo. With their latest album, they look toward Rio de Janeiro, or more specifically, the Rio of the 1950s, when samba-canção was the reigning romantic song and heartache a staple on the musical menu. The project received a substantial boost from music historian Zuza Homem de Mello, who selected the repertoire, and Maurício Maestro (leader of the vocal group Boca Livre), who arranged and conducted. The result is a work that outstrips the quartet’s previous efforts in quality and level of professionalism.

The disc aptly begins and ends with sambas dedicated to that symbol of the good years: the then-glamorous borough of Copacabana. “Copacabana” was a 1946 hit in Dick Farney’s velvety voice, while “Sábado em Copacabana” was released in 1951 by Farney’s great rival, the even smoother baritone Lúcio Alves. The Trovadores’ harmonies beautifully evoke the period, reinforced in “Copacabana” by Proveta’s jazzy, longing alto sax.

If there’s a quintessential ’50s samba-canção, it’s likely to be “Neste Mesmo Lugar”:

Neste Mesmo Lugar
(Klécius Kaldas/Armando Cavalcanti)

Aqui, neste mesmo lugar
Neste mesmo lugar de nós dois
Jamais poderia pensar
Que voltasse sózinha depois
O mesmo garçon se aproxima
Parece que nada mudou
Porém qualquer coisa não rima
Com o tempo feliz que passou

Por uma ironia cruel
Alguém começou a cantar
Um samba-canção de Noel
Que viu nosso amor começar

Só falta agora a porta se abrir
E ele ao lado de outra chegar
E por mim passar sem me olhar

Só falta agora a porta se abrir
E ele ao lado de outra chegar
E por mim passar

It was first recorded in 1955 by Dalva de Oliveira and has since received other memorable renditions by the likes of Elizeth Cardoso, Sylvia Telles, Tito Madi, and Nora Ney—singers who introduced most of the songs in Copacabana. The Trovadores’ version faithfully recreates a nightspot whose smoky atmosphere gets in your eyes in more ways than one.

The samba-canção “Duas Contas,” first recorded by Trio Surdina in 1953 (violinist Fafá Lemos sang), was one of the landmark songs that paved the way for Bossa Nova. The Trovadores turn in a particularly moving a-cappella interpretation, full of lyricism and tenderness.

Duas Contas
(Garoto)

Teus olhos
São duas contas pequeninas
Qual duas pedras preciosas
Que brilham mais que o luar

São eles
Guias do meu caminho escuro
Cheio de desilusão e dor

Quisera que eles soubessem
O que representam prá mim
Fazen do que eu prossiga feliz
Ah, o amor
A luz dos teus olhos

Dolores Duran’s “Fim de Caso” (1959) soberly documents the downhill trajectory of a love affair while still refusing to believe that it’s coming to an end. “Encontro com a Saudade” (1960), on the other hand, is a positive love declaration that considers saudade to be a legitimate part of love. It’s the kind of song one can’t forget, and the Trovadores’ recording joins those of Elizeth Cardoso and Pery Ribeiro in carving out a permanent place for it in the standard repertoire.

The baião “Kalú” (1952), made famous by Dalva de Oliveira, is given here a nordestino flavor with Toninho Ferragutti’s accordion and Adriano Busko’s zabumba, triangle, and ganzá. The samba “Bar da Noite” (1953) brings back the bar waiter as the only companion remaining to the jilted lover. Teco Cardoso’s tenor sax lends the right tone to this picture of a lonely night in a public place.

For a change of pace, the carefree marcha “Zum Zum” (1950) makes light of the disappearance of the flag bearer of a carnaval bloco. The arrangement is enlivened by Teco Cardoso’s array of wind instruments, including a distinctive piccolo.

The penultimate track in Copacabana is a reflective rendition of the samba “Caminhemos” (1947). What better summation for this beautiful exercise in musical nostalgia?

Parto à procura de alguém ou a procura de nada
Vou indo caminhando sem saber onde chegar
Quem sabe na volta te encontre no mesmo lugar.

Trovadores Urbanos: Copacabana
(Dabliú Discos; DB 0111; 2002) 57:14 min.

01. Copacabana (João de Barro/Alberto Ribeiro) 1946
02. Neste Mesmo Lugar (Klécius Kaldas/Armando Cavalcanti) 1955
03. Poema do Olhar (Jair Amorim/Evaldo Gouveia) 1962
04. Duas Contas (Aníbal Augusto Sardinha “Garoto”) 1953
05. Fim de Caso (Dolores Duran) 1959
06. Encontro com a Saudade (Nilo Queiroz/Billy Blanco) 1960
07. Kalú (Humberto Teixeira) 1952
08. Se Queres Saber (Peterpan) 1947
09. Bar da Noite (Bidu Reis/Haroldo Barbosa) 1953
10. Você Não Sabe Amar (Dorival Caymmi/Carlos Guinle/Hugo Lima) 1950
11. Vingança (Lupicínio Rodrigues) 1951
12. Nossos Momentos (Haroldo Barbosa/Luis Reis) 1961
13. Zum Zum (Paulo Soledade/Fernando Lobo) 1950
14. Caminhemos (Herivelto Martins) 1947
15. Sábado em Copacabana (Dorival Caymmi/Carlos Guinle) 1951

 


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