Ary Barroso’s unknown album

The composer’s first LP
went unnoticed for 50 years.

Daniella Thompson

22 July 2003

The cover design wasn’t at fault

In this virtual age, when so little is hidden and so much revealed with a mere click of the mouse, the sudden appearance of an unknown album by a major artist is hardly an everyday occurrence. Such an unlikely event took place on 1 July 2003, when I received an appeal for help from Omar Jubran. As all fans of classic samba know, Jubran is the paulista researcher who worked for ten years tracking down and remastering all the original recordings of Noel Rosa’s songs. After several frustrating years spent searching for a record label, the 14-CD collection Noel Pela Primeira Vez eventually saw the light of day via Funarte and Velas.

Several years before completing the Noel project, Jubran began on an even more daunting task—assembling all the original recordings of Ary Barroso’s tunes. Finding Ary’s recordings was harder than the Noel search, for a complete discography of Ary’s compositions has never been compiled. Moreover, Ary’s career was four times as long as Noel’s, and he was a highly prolific as well as a uniquely successful composer both at home and abroad. Jubran has been working on the Ary project for about ten years now, and his quest for the original recordings is almost complete. However, securing a release for the projected 20-CD collection isn’t so simple, as corporate or institutional sponsorship has yet to be found, notwithstanding Ary Barroso’s centennial, which occurs this year.

Undeterred, Jubran presses on. In addition to hunting for old recordings in used record stores, he received 78-rpm discs and vinyl LPs on loan from collectors all over Brazil. One of these collectors is the octogenarian Brazílio Carvalho, who lent Jubran an LP titled Fantasia Carioca (Musart LPD 94), purchased by him in a used disc store in Brazil. Examining the tracks, Jubran discovered what apparently Mr. Carvalho hadn’t noticed until then: the choro “Divagando,” previously unknown. The disc bore the Mexican Musart label and had been produced by the U.S. label Audio Fidelity, yet there was no indication as to where and when the recording took place or when the record had been released. Thus the e-mail of 1 July, asking whether the album was recorded in the U.S.A. or in Mexico and, most important, in which year it was recorded or released. Closing his message, Jubran wrote: “Aguardo qualquer informação. É muito importante para mim. Conto com você.”

Although the complete Ary Barroso discography remains unpublished (these pages offer a partial discography), the most authoritative source available on the composer is Sérgio Cabral’s biography No Tempo de Ari Barroso (Rio de Janeiro: Lumiar Editora, 1993). There, on page 301, one learns that in the spring and summer of 1953, Ary took an “orquestra-espetáculo” on tour to Venezuela and Mexico, intending to add Cuba and the U.S. to the itinerary. For his tour band, the composer borrowed musicians from Severino Araújo’s Orquestra Tabajara and Peruzzi’s Orquestra Marajoara, including in the roster Júlio “Julinho” Barbosa, José Luiz, and Geraldo Medeiros (trumpets); Paulo Moura, Darci Barbosa, Bijou, and Orfeu (saxophones); Maciel and Nelsinho (trombones); Alfredo “Mesquita” de Souza (drums); Malagutti (bass); Gauri (piano); and Caramujo (pandeiro). In addition, there were three unnamed percussionists, the comic Walter Machado, the dancer Vieirinha (Manuel Vieira Filho), and the singers Édson Lopes, Aracy Costa, and Dora Lopes. If these vocalists have ever recorded an Ary Barroso song before or after the tour, I haven’t been able to locate such recording. Dora Lopes, who was a gifted songwriter as well as spirited samba singer, was “discovered” in Ary’s radio talent show in 1949.

According to Cabral, the repertoire was determined before the voyage, and the musical arrangements were written by the bandleaders Severino Araújo, Pernambuco, Morfeu, and Zezinho. The program included the following tunes:

  • Rio de Janeiro (Ary Barroso) — orchestra
  • Terra Seca (Ary Barroso) — Édson Lopes
  • Chamego (author?) — Dora Lopes
  • Boneca de Pixe (Ary Barroso/Luiz Iglésias) — Aracy Costa &

  • Na Baixa do Sapateiro — Édson Lopes
  • Granada (Agustín Lara) — orchestra
  • Sinfonia Carioca (author?) — Édson Lopes
  • Frevo (author?) — orchestra & Vieirinha
  • Macumba (author?) — Dora Lopes & Vieirinha
  • Aquarela do Brasil (Ary Barroso) — Édson Lopes
  • Rapsódia Carnavalesca (author?) — all
  • In Mexico City, Ary’s orchestra appeared on radio, at the Versailles nighclub, and in a successful series of daily shows at the Teatro Lírico, where parallel shows were presented by Agustín Lara and his orchestra in a battle of the bands. Apparently, neither Ary nor Agustín Lara knew how to conduct, but nobody minded such trifles. All went well until the tour impresarios, Florencio Contreras and Cesar Luchetti (the former a Chilean, the latter an Argentine), ran away with all the box-office receipts, leaving Ary and his troupe high and dry. Fortunately, the run at the Teatro Lírico was extended, and the orchestra was invited to perform again in various radio stations and nightclubs, thus making up some of what had been lost.

    The impresarios’ shenanigans were not the only disappointment confronting Ary in Mexico. He had planned to make four films there, but just then the film workers went on strike. Similarly, two LPs that were meant for RCA Mexico were scuttled owing to a technician and musician strike. While he was in Mexico, Ary wrote that he had received proposals from Los Angeles, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Buenos Aires. It appears that those proposals fell through, and no report of a U.S. tour has been published. Hence the surprise at the sudden appearance of an unknown LP bearing a Mexican label and produced by an American one.

    Never having heard of Fantasia Carioca, I did a quick Web search and found a single mention: a used record emporium in the Midwest was offering the disc for sale. Prompted for a release place and date, the merchant wrote: “Can’t tell where it was recorded. No year indicated but circa 1960.” After obtaining a track list (“Tunes: instrumentos Brasilieras, maria la o, copacabano, brazil, no taboleiro, divagando, Granada, alma llanera, bahia, risqué, que dues me perode, na gafeira, el baiao del pinguino.”) and ascertaining that Ary was indeed a listed performer (“Ary plus un-named percussionists”), I bought the album.

    The actual LP didn’t provide an immediate answer. The record company named on the label is Mexican, yet the language on the label as well as on the back cover is English. A crescent of text at the bottom of the label proclaims: “Produced by Audio Fidelity, Inc. 465 W. 51st St., New York 19, N.Y.” The performers indicated on the label are “Ary Barroso and his Orch.”

    Seeking clues in the unsigned and undated notes didn’t help. Particularly confusing was the following passage:

    Rio is the crowning glory of Brazil. Modern in every respect, the city boasts attractions each of which has its own particular kind of fascination. Not the least of these is the fabulous Casino da Urca, the gayest and most sophisticated of the continent’s night clubs built on one of Rio’s beaches. Here the main attractions are dancing and gambling.

    The writer of the above notes couldn’t have visited Rio de Janeiro (or, for that matter, any other Brazilian city) since at least early 1946, for in that year gambling was outlawed in Brazil by order of President Eurico Gaspar Dutra, and all the casinos were closed, including the famed Cassino da Urca.

    Of the 13 tracks, only seven contain tunes composed by Ary. Among the remaining six, there are two zarzuela songs—the Cuban “Maria la O” and the Venezuelan “Alma Llanera”—plus the Mexican canción “Granada.” All famous songs by celebrated popular composers. Their inclusion was no doubt meant as the Brazilians’ tribute to their intended host countries, with the tunes arranged in samba rhythm.

    The opening track is a demonstration of Brazilian percussion instruments, introduced in Spanish by Ary, who announces each instrument in turn: “Las cabaças, los tamborins, los reco-recos, el pandeiro, el ganzá, la bateria.”

    Two additional non-Ary tunes are Brazilian: the great hit “Copacabana,” sung by Aracy Costa, and the obscure “El Baiao del Pinguino,” in an orchestral rendition with chorus. The latter’s Spanish name is misleading, but this instrumental with sung chorus has nothing to do with the mambo “El Baile del Pingüino,” which Ernesto Duarte Brito wrote for Carlos “Patato” Valdés and which was subsequently recorded in Brazil by Waldyr Calmon and his orchestra and made universally known by Tito Puente. The composer is given as Mesquita, and my assumption was that he’s none other than Alfredo “Mesquita” de Souza, the drummer in Ary’s tour orchestra. Paulo Moura, who at the age of twenty was the orchestra’s lead saxophonist on his first trip abroad, confirmed that the author was indeed “o Mesquita da bateria.” Moura also named the singer of each vocal track.

    Of Ary’s own seven compositions, “Aquarela do Brasil” is presented by the orchestra alone, “Na Baixa do Sapateiro” by Édson Lopes and orchestra, and “Risque” by Dora Lopes and orchestra. “Risque” was a great success in Mexico under the title “Borre Mi Nombre de Su Caderno,” and the vocal rendition in Fantasia Carioca includes a final refrain in Spanish. The singers’ renditions tend toward bombast, a style destined to become passé just a few years later, when João Gilberto would kill it off with a subtle yet swift blow. The orchestral style is expansive and danceable, very much of the period.

    That leaves the four tracks on which Ary plays piano in his inimitable style, accompanied by percussion. “No Tabuleiro da Baiana” is known to all, usually as a sung duet. It was first recorded in 1936 by Carmen Miranda and Luiz Barbosa, accompanied by the conjunto regional of Pixinguinha with Luperce Miranda on bandolim. The tune listed as “Na Gafieira” is the samba “Sambando na Gafieira,” first recorded by Ary in 1951. A third tune bearing an unfamiliar title, “Que Deus Me Perdoe” turns out to be “Ocultei,” which Elizeth Cardoso recorded with Vero (Radamés Gnattali) and his Orchestra in 1954. The fourth tune is the unpublished choro “Divagando” that caught Omar Jubran’s eye.

    The presence of “Risque” (1952), “Que Deus Me Perdoe,” and “Sambando na Gafieira” indicates that Fantasia Carioca was likely to have been recorded in the first half of the 1950s. An additional clue was the presence on the back cover of cross-marketing ads for three other Latin-American LPs from the same label:

  • Ramón Márquez: Ritmo Sabroso—cha cha cha, merengue, mambo
        (Musart LPD 215)

  • Raul Iriarte: Tango Argentino (Musart LPD 195)

  • Ramón Márquez: Rico Cha Cha Cha (Musart LPD 157)
  • These albums were easier to date than Fantasia Carioca, as they’re available for purchase from vinyl purveyors who provide release dates. The most recent release, Musart LPD 215, was dated at 1958. Musart LPD 195 was dated at 1957, and Musart LPD 157 was estimated to have been released circa 1955. Judging by the label’s probable rate of album releases, Ary’s LP (Musart LPD 94) could not have been released later than 1954, which would be entirely compatible with a 1953 recording.

    On the other hand, the presence on the back cover of ads for subsequent albums from the same label and the English language on the packaging indicate that Audio Fidelity did not release Fantasia Carioca in the U.S. until at least 1958.

    The two existing Fantasia Carioca copies I know of—Brazílio Carvalho’s and mine—both came from Audio Fidelity’s U.S. edition, which was intended for the Latino market. Are there surviving LPs of the original Mexican edition? Only time will tell. But even in the absence of the original edition, several conclusions can be safely drawn:

  • Fantasia Carioca is the first LP Ary Barroso recorded
  • It contains the debut recordings of two tunes, both played by Ary
  • The “Divagando” recording is not only the first but very likely the
        only one ever made
  • “Que Deus Me Perdoe” was recorded before “Ocultei” and thus
        was probably the original title of the song, drawn from the lyrics:
  • [...]O meu mais ardente desejo
    Que Deus me perdoe o pecado
    É que outra mulher ao teu lado
    Te mate na hora de um beijo

    Ary Barroso & his Orchestra: Fantasia Carioca—Sambas Baiaos
    (Musart LPD 94; recorded in Mexico in 1953)

    1. Instrumentos Brasileiros — percussion demonstration
    2. Maria la O (Ernesto Lecuona) — orchestra
    3. Copacabana (João de Barro/Alberto Ribeiro) — Aracy Costa & orchestra
    4. Brazil [Aquarela do Brasil] (Ary Barroso) — orchestra
    5. No Tabuleiro da Baiana (Ary Barroso) — Ary & percussion
    6. Divagando (Ary Barroso) — Ary & percussion
    7. Granada (Agustín Lara) — orchestra
    8. Alma Llanera (Pedro Elias Gutiérrez) — piano & orchestra
    9. Bahia [Na Baixa do Sapateiro] (Ary Barroso) — Édson Lopes & orchestra
    10. Risque (Ary Barroso) — Dora Lopes & orchestra
    11. Que Deus Me Perdoe [Ocultei] (Ary Barroso) — Ary & percussion
    12. Na Gafieira [Sambando na Gafieira] (Ary Barroso) — Ary & percussion
    13. El Baiao del Pinguino (Alfredo “Mesquita” de Souza) — orchestra & chorus

    = = =

    4 January 2004

    Nine of the Fantasia Carioca recordings were reissued in Uruguay on a 10” Orfeo LP titled Ary Barroso. Curiously, the four tracks eliminated were precisely those in which Ary himself plays piano. The singer indicated for “Copacabana” was Dora Lopes rather than Aracy Costa (the latter named by Paulo Moura).


    The back cover carries detailed notes by Roberto Ayala, editor of Selecciones Musicales, who informs us (erroneously) that Ary Barroso was a celebrated sportscaster before he became a musician.

    Cuándo en el año 1946 los cines de todo el mundo presentaban con éxito sin precedente la película de Walt Disney “Los Tres Caballeros”, dos nuevos nombres principiaron a ser famosos: ARY BARROSO compositor de dos de los más grandes éxitos musicales BAHIA y BRASIL; y José Carioca, el perico que desde entonces iba a simbolizar a Brasil en todas las cintas de dibujante americano. Antes de presentar sus canciones, ARY BARROSO ya era célebre en su paés como el cronista deportivo mejor pagado del radio; al aparecer BAHIA y BRASIL, el ambiente artístico lo llamó y a él se dedicó por entero, formando una orquesta.

    Su llegada a México a principios de 1953, causó una verdadera conmoción; todos quisieron conocer de cerca al más genuino representante de la música opular del país carioca. A través de sus actuaciones en radio, televisión, teatros y centros nocturnos, ARY BARROSO logró en México un triunfo definitivo, compartido con su orquesta e intérpretes.

    En el lado 1 de este disco, al principio, ARY BARROSO personalmente hace la presentación del ritmo auténtico de la samba brasileña, tocada con los instrumentos típicos; y así vamos escuchando en primer término las “cabassas”, hechas de un guaje vacío como el triple volumen de una maraca y cubiertas por un rosario de conchas, que al agitarse dan un sonido en extremo peculiar; después los “tamborins”, pequeños tamborcitos cuyo sonido es muy similar al de los bongós; siguen los “réco-réco”, cuyo sonido se asemeja al güiro; el pandero; el “ganzá”, que no es otra cosa que maracas metálicas y por último la betería, que es de uso universal.

    Con su orquesta compuesta de catorce instrumentos: tres trumpetas, dos trombones, cinco saxofones, piano, bajo, batería y pandero, ARY BARROSO confeccionó para este disco MUSART, una serie de arreglos bailables, en los cuales la melodía resulta el común denominador; si los metales logran hacer sentir su presencia vibrante, la suavidad de los ritmos se escucha siempre a lo largo de estos temas, extravagantes y de mucha perdonalidad.

    Entre las selecciones cantadas, encontramos BAHIA, intrpretada por EDSON LOPES y RISQUE y COPACABANA, cantadas por DORA LOPES; y como selecciones instrumentales escuchamos BRASIL, MARIA LA O, ALMA LLANERA, EL BAIAO DEL PINGÜINO y un magnifico arreglo en samba de GRANADA, de Lara.

    Usted gozará escuchando este disco que habrá de recordarle las grandes actuaciones que esta embajada artística realizó en México.

    Este disco MUSART de larga duracíon 33 1/3 RPM con grabación de Microsurco permite una reproducción más fiel y de mejor calidad tonal.

    Manéjese con cuidado no exponiéndolo al calor y conservándolo dentro de su funda. Unicamente puede tocarse en aparatos a 33 1/3 RPM.

    Notas de Roberto Ayala, Editor de “Selecciones Musicales”.

    30 September 2014

    This Mexican edition was offered for sale with no information as to the release date.
    The sleeve design dates from the 1950s, but the record label looks far more contemporary.

    = = =

    For the scans of the Uruguayan reissue I’m indebted to Sergio Ximenes, owner of the [defunct] discographies website Sombras, and to his friend David Hosokawa Griman, who bought the disc in a used LP fair.



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