Treasures in the Columbia vault

The Native Brazilian Music matrices
still exist (and then some).

Daniella Thompson

4 November 2003

Zé Espinguela & Villa-Lobos (right) during a Sôdade do
Cordão rehearsal at Espinguela’s house, 1940 (photo courtesy
of Ermelinda A. Paz).

This article will make no sense unless you’ve read Stalking Stokowski.

On 11 September 2003, I published in my weblog an item titled Survivors. Under the subhead Maybe, one of these days, I listed the following tunes:

Tristeza (samba do morro de Cartola)
Cartola & pastoras da Mangueira

Afoché (candomblé de Zé Espinguela)
Zé Espinguela & Grupo do Pai Alufá

Samba do Urubu (variações de Pixinguinha)
Pixinguinha & conjunto regional de Donga

Apanhá Limão (samba de Jararaca)
Conjunto regional de Donga

Samba da Lua (batucada de Donga & David Nasser)
Conjunto regional de Donga

Quando uma Estrela Sorri (marcha-rancho de Donga, Villa-Lobos & David Nasser)
Conjunto regional de Donga

Primeiro Amor (samba do morro de Cartola & Aloísio Dias)
Cartola & pastoras da Mangueira

Meu Amor (samba do morro de Cartola & Aloísio Dias)
Cartola & pastoras da Mangueira

Nobody paid the slightest attention.

I waited a few days and announced a contest in a comment below the article, promising a prize to the first reader who would figure out what the list was about.


Then I offered an additional inducement, hinting that the prize would be really good. This finally enticed a lone contestant, who posted the correct answer in a comment (he received the CD Ary Amoroso with Elizeth Cardoso).

A little while later I hinted again. Same results.

You’d think that such momentous news as the one being offered in the article would cause a ruckus in Brazilian music circles (and if not a ruckus, at least a brouhaha). But no. The whole episode passed utterly unnoticed.

It seems that a blunter approach is required.

Here it is.

Columbia Records (currently a Sony subsidiary), not only retains the original Native Brazilian Music recordings in its vault but has been sitting on eight additional never-released sides. Those are the titles you see above. They include the famous “Samba do Urubu” (or “Urubu Malandro”), which the newspaper O Globo singled out in its page-one reportage of 8 August 1940:

Then came the number that caused the greatest sensation of the night: the flute solo of Pixinguinha in Urubu Malandro. All present were enthusiastic, not only with the picturesque music but with the superb execution of Pixinguinha, to the point that one of the orchestra’s section leaders said, “That is one of the best flutists I’ve ever heard.”

In addition to the Pixinguinha, there are three sambas written and performed by Cartola, a candomblé by Zé Espinguela (the Stokowski recordings aboard the S.S. Uruguay are the only ones he ever made), and a number of tunes performed by Donga and his conjunto regional.

In keeping with past practices, the tracks are listed thus in Columbia’s records:

30162 TRISTEZA – Mangueira Chorus
30164 A FOCHE – Grupo Do Rae Aluja
30186 SAMBA DO URUBU – Regionale Orchestra
30187 APANHA LIMAO – Regionale Orchestra
30188 SAMBA DO LUA – Regionale Orchestra
30189 QUANDO UMA ESTRELA SORVI – Regionale Orchestra
30191 PRIMEIRO AMOR – Mangueira Chorus
30192 MEU AMOR – Mangueira Chorus

With these eight tracks added to the 16 released in 1942, Sony has enough material for a generously-sized CD. So why hasn’t it produced one?

Perhaps because nobody asked.

Want to be an activist on behalf of Brazilian music? Get out there and make some noise. Who knows? Someone just might be willing to listen.


Copyright © 2003–2015 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.