Brazil - BRAZZIL - A Hot Quintet Called Arranco - Brazilian Music - May 1999

May 1999


Vocal groups are hot again, and Arranco is the hottest of them all. The good news about vocal arrangements is that what still works best is good old samba. Arranco adds its own flavor to a long and distinguished line of samba ensembles

Daniella Thompson

Conjuntos vocais (vocal ensembles) occupy a prominent place in the history of popular Brazilian music (MPB). The tradition of group singing is very old, but vocal arrangements came into their own following the electrification of the microphone in the mid-1920s, when it became possible for several people to sing together in a normal tone, unlike earlier singers who had to bellow individually into a horn.

One of the earliest and best-known groups was Bando da Lua, a vocal/instrumental nonet founded by the young Aloysio de Oliveira in 1929. They were strongly influenced by the Mills Brothers and maintained two repertoires, one in English, Mills Bros. style, the other Brazilian. Between 1931 and 1940, they launched thirty-eight 78rpm discs containing 74 songs. Some of their successes were "Segure a Mão" (Enéias/Martinez Grau; 1935); "Não Resta a Menor Dúvida" (Noel Rosa/Hervê Cordovil; 1936); "Maria Boa" and "Negócios de Família" (Assis Valente; 1936); "Que É Que Maria Tem?" and "Cansado de Sambar" (Assis Valente; 1937); "Bola Preta" (Assis Valente; 1938); and "Samba da Minha Terra" (Dorival Caymmi; 1941). Bando da Lua appeared in films and toured South America. In 1939 they played with Carmen Miranda in the Cassino da Urca in Rio and shortly thereafter accompanied her to the United States, where they became her permanent band and established the second phase of their career. They disbanded following Carmen's death in 1955, but not before having spawned a host of imitators.

The 1940s saw a veritable explosion in vocal groups whose recordings have passed into the standard MPB repertoire. During that decade, the great samba composer Ataulfo Alves and his Pastoras were the hit of many a Carnaval with instant classics such as "Ai! Que Saudades da Amélia" (1942) and "Atire a Primeira Pedra" (1944). Ataulfo and his female group also recorded many fine mid-year sambas like "Não Irei Lhe Buscar" (1944) and "Mártir no Amor" (1945). During the same period, the all-male quintet Quatro Ases e um Coringa (Four Aces and a Joker) sang elaborate vocal arrangements the likes of which have not been heard before, among them Ary Barroso's "Terra Seca" (1943), "Na Baixa do Sapateiro" (1946), and "Aquarela do Brasil" (1947) and Pedro Caetano's hymn to Mangueira, "Onde Estão os Tamborins" (1947).

Another legendary male vocal ensemble active during the '40s and '50s was the Anjos do Inferno (Hell's Angels). They were Dorival Caymmi specialists, and their recordings of Caymmi's "Vatapá" (1942) and "Acontece Que Sou Baiano" (1943) and Geraldo Pereira's "Bolinha de Papel" (1945) sound as fresh today as when they were committed to acetate. Anjos do Inferno's main competitors may have been Os Namorados da Lua (Moon Lovers), a male group founded in 1941 by the then 14-year old singer/composer Lúcio Alves. The Namorados made a splash on Ary Barroso's talent program, and their successful recordings included "Eu Quero um Samba" (Haroldo Barbosa/Janet de Almeida; 1945), "Feitiço da Vila" (Noel Rosa/Vadico; 1946), and "De Conversa em Conversa" (Lúcio Alves/Haroldo Barbosa; 1947). One more male singing group whose name borrowed from Bando da Lua was Garotos da Lua (Moon Boys), the Rádio Tupi ensemble in whose midst João Gilberto got his start as crooner. Both Lúcio Alves and João Gilberto also had stints as soloists with Anjos do Inferno. It's interesting to note how many of the early vocal groups' songs were later performed as solo versions by João Gilberto, thus gaining new audiences throughout the world.

In 1942 came Os Cariocas (The Guys from Rio), whose harmonies are said to have surpassed those of their U.S. model, the Pied Pipers. The Cariocas' first hits were "Nova Ilusão" (Luís Bittencourt/José Menezes; 1948) and "Adeus, América" (Haroldo Barbosa /Geraldo Jacques; 1948). In 1954 the group participated in the recording of Sinfonia do Rio de Janeiro by Tom Jobim & Billy Blanco. They flourished during the bossa nova era, disbanded in 1967, reorganized in 1988, and are still active today with a lineup including two of the original members.

The next wave of vocal groups broke in the early 1960s. Here we find the first major all-female ensemble, Quarteto em Cy, whose numerous recordings cover songs by Dorival Caymmi, Tom Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, and Chico Buarque, among others. Quarteto em Cy's male counterpart, MPB-4, arrived on the scene at about the same time, and they too are known for their Chico Buarque interpretations. In 1978 Boca Livre joined this elect company and contributed standards like "Toada" (Zé Renato/Cláudio Nucci/Juca Filho), "Quem Tem a Viola" (Zé Renato/Cláudio Nucci/Xico Chaves), "Mistérios" (Joyce/Maurício Maestro), and "Anima" (Zé Renato/Milton Nascimento) to the MPB repertoire.

Between 1978 and 1984, the ten-person group Céu da Boca (a wordplay on heaven and roof of the mouth) featured the talents of singers and musicians such as Verônica Sabino, Maúcha Adnet, Paula Morelenbaum, Chico Adnet, Paulo Brandão, and Paulo Malaguti, who've gone on to solo careers, Tom Jobim's band, Aquarela Carioca, and Arranco, among other destinies. The group released two LPs, Céu da Boca (Philips; 1981) and Baratotal (Philips; 1982), that now fetch high prices in the collectors' market.

In 1985, the Orchestra of Voices Garganta Profunda (Deep Throat) was founded as a 23-voice choir. By the time they released their second disc, Yes, Nós Temos Braguinha (Funarte; 1986), the number of singers had shrunk to thirteen. They sang everything from bossa nova to the Beatles and participated in a number of Almir Chediak's Lumiar Songbook CD projects, including those of Dorival Caymmi, Edu Lobo, Ary Barroso, Tom Jobim, and Djavan. In 1995, they recorded the CD Vida, Paixão e Banana: Garganta Canta a Tropicália (Albatroz). As of 1996, the group is a quartet performing a repertoire of traditional MPB, newer music, and their own compositions.

Although the established conjuntos vocais have maintained their presence in the musical market with greater or lesser relevance, fewer and fewer new vocal groups have been coming into prominence as the decades marched toward the end of the century. This could be attributed in part to the emergence of Brazilian rock in the '80s and to the diminished role of MPB in Brazilian radio programming—hardly a nurturing climate. And yet, miracle of miracles, the '90s brought us three of the best vocal groups Brazil has heard. One of these groups is located in Paris: the adult incarnation of Trio Esperança—three sisters who sing tight a cappella MPB harmonies. Both of Trio Esperança's CDs, A Capela do Brasil (1992) and Segundo (1995), are available on the Philips (France) label.

The other two groups, based on home turf, are mixed ensembles of male and female voices accompanied by acoustic instruments. Both perform samba of the best kind. One is in São Paulo: Eduardo Gudin e Notícias dum Brasil, headed by the composer Eduardo Gudin. This wondrous assemblage of talents produced two outstanding CDs: Eduardo Gudin e Notícias dum Brasil (Velas; 1995), a tribute to bossa nova, and Pra Tirar o Chapéu (RGE; 1998), a pure samba album.

The other group is our subject: Arranco of Rio de Janeiro.

Although they've been around since 1994, Arranco (formerly Arranco de Varsóvia) made an international name for themselves only last year, when news of their first album, Quem É de Sambar (Dubas; 1997), spread through the Internet like wild fire. Since then, Arranco released a second CD, Samba de Cartola (Dubas; 1998), clinching their image as the Manhattan Transfer of Samba.

Arranco comprises five singers: Eveline Hecker, Jurema de Cândia (who recently replaced Soraya Ravenle), Rita Peixoto, Murí Costa, and Paulo Malaguti. They perform with three percussionists and a 7-string guitar. Paulo Malaguti (who plays piano and guitar) and Murí Costa (guitar and cavaquinho) are responsible for the arrangements, with editorial assistance from the women. Vocal formations vary with each song, and the members also carry on solo careers. Arranco's repertoire is selected according to the singers' tastes. As Rita Peixoto says, "Cantamos o que gostamos" (we sing what we like).

We chatted with Arranco's members, beginning with Paulo "Pauleira" Malaguti, co-founder of the group.

Brazzil—You used to be Arranco de Varsóvia, and although you're now plain Arranco, the first thing that people want to know is: what does it mean?

Paulo Malaguti—Arranco is a traditional samba group or bloco that parades in the streets, dancing and singing. There are still some other arrancos in Rio's suburbs: Arranco de Madureira, Arranco do Engenho de Dentro, and so on. De Varsóvia means from Warsaw, the Polish capital. In our original formation we had three members descended from Polish Jews: Eveline [Hecker], Soraya [Ravenle] and myself. This pointed out the mix we proposed to produce, African and European heritages blending through samba. Of course, this is not a new trend. Brazilian music is definitely the result of this mix, and other vocal groups of the past—Anjos do Inferno, Bando da Lua, Quatro Ases e um Coringa—had done what we do. But at this point in Brazilian history, our attitude towards samba, coming from where we came, could be considered original.

Brazzil—How did it all start? Where did you come from?

Paulo Malaguti—I'm a pianist, arranger, and composer born Nov. 3, 1959, and Arranco is my most important project. For the last five years, I've been deeply involved with this form of music making, focusing much of my energy into the group. Arranco has been a powerful synthesis of my beliefs and tastes in music. I studied piano since the age of six: classical at first, but the Beatles set me in the `by ear' world. Used to play adolescent drums but left it at age 18 to play popular music on the keyboard and can handle the guitar enough to survive anywhere. Played blues at first, but soon Jobim took control of my attention, and the world of harmony is still being unveiled by my ears. Brazilian carioca melody/rhythm/harmony is the basic combination I learned to admire and am still working to achieve.

Brazzil—Why vocal music?

Paulo Malaguti—Vocal music has been part of my life since 1976, when I was in the Pro Arte Choir, brilliantly conducted by Jacques Morelenbaum. We sang popular and classical music with much spirit. It was a very young choir made up of music students, and we won a choir contest promoted by Jornal do Brasil in 1976. From there evolved my first musical achievement: Céu da Boca, a ten-person vocal group singing popular music, using basic chorus SATB formation to sing everything from choros to sambas, contemporary, and funky fun stuff. We released two albums at Polygram and toured Brazil's main capitals between 1978 and 1984. Céu da Boca gave me the chance to come into contact with many Brazilian musicians (Tom Jobim, Chico Buarque, Wagner Tiso, Joyce, César Camargo Mariano) with whom we recorded and performed. The group was very skillful at absorbing different trends in Brazilian or Latin music and sang in a very natural, non-vibrato style. My first arrangements were made for them, and I learned a lot about voices and harmony through this experience. Soon I was attempting to join my abilities as a pianist to the vocal possibilities of the group, and we developed a simple rhythm section: drums, bass, 6-string guitar or mandolin, or 10-string caipira [country] guitar. Having ten people, we could vary the formations for each tune either on vocals or instruments. It was a very rich experience, and in Rio Céu da Boca is still a reference for good-quality vocal music. Parallel to this, I developed keyboard playing with many different artists and instrumental groups.

Brazzil—What did you do after the breakup?

Paulo Malaguti—In 1986, after a small tour in Mexico, I went to the New England Conservatory in Boston to study with Ran Blake in the department of Third Stream Studies. Jacques Morelenbaum had studied cello at NEC and told me about this department, where the blending of many styles was the goal to follow. The vocal scene in Boston didn't interest me, so I could focus on piano and composition. The great advantage of NEC is its many different music departments. I could learn something from each: jazz, contemporary, classical, music history, musicology, electronic. Of course I could also look at my own country from an outsider's point of view and be reassured that Brazil's gift of music is extraordinary, and samba is certainly its most outstanding form.

I returned to Brazil in 1989 with the decision to be a full-time keyboardist. Had some good experiences with artists such as Danilo Caymmi, Nana Caymmi, Adriana Calcanhotto, Simone, João Donato, Verônica Sabino, and others. Met the choro crowd—Maurício Carrilho, Pedro Amorim, Paulo Sérgio Santos—and toured Japan in 1992. Came back with the idea of restarting a vocal thing, but this time specifically samba.

Brazzil—Why samba?

Paulo Malaguti—My best results as arranger in Céu da Boca were in sambas. It was always fun. Every time we played the samba tunes, I had the most fun of all. I always had this kind of distant admiration for the great composers and the sambas they made: Chico Buarque, Tom Jobim, Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho, Assis Valente, Lamartine Babo, Paulinho da Viola, and the list goes on and on. Through Arranco I could arrange the best material possible, because the repertoire of good-quality tunes never ends, and I could also sing, play piano and guitar, and eventually write my own tunes. On our first album, Quem É de Sambar, I composed the tune that humorously defines the group, "O Arranco de Varsóvia," and I'm very proud of it. With Arranco I could again relate to the carioca music scene from an artist's point of view, and we would soon perform with samba masters such as Beth Carvalho, Zeca Pagodinho, Arlindo Cruz, Sombrinha, and many others. It's been a deep pleasure to perform in this manner, and I find myself perfectly in tune with our objectives.

Brazzil—Paulo, you're known as "Pauleira" ("Heavy") throughout Brazil. What makes you heavy?

Paulo Malaguti—Pauleira refers to my rock 'n roll drumming period. Yes, heavy. I still am a John Bonham fan.

Brazzil—Murí, how did you come into the picture?

Murí Costa—I'm 44 years old, and since I was very small music has played an active role in my life because of the love my parents had for music. My mother played piano quite well, and my father was a complete samba and bossa nova aficionado. My only brother, Marcelo Costa, also became a professional and is today one of the most sought-after drummers in Brazil. At the age of six I began my music studies on the piano, the instrument I still use to create my arrangements. At twelve I got a guitar. I began my professional career in 1973 with the group A Barca do Sol, which made three discs in eight years of existence. I was also in Céu da Boca and in a Caribbean dance band called Banana Tabaco e Rhum. As a guitarist, I played with Nana Caymmi, Danilo Caymmi, Miúcha, and Dorival Caymmi. Since 1980 I've developed a career as a choirmaster; I'm director of the choral department at the Universidade do Grande Rio, in Duque de Caxias (Baixada Fluminense). I launched my first solo disc in 1992 through Leblon Records.

Brazzil—A very nice disc that I had to import from São Paulo. Leblon has terrible distribution. You're also a producer.

Murí Costa—As a record producer I worked on discs of Nana Caymmi, Clara Sandroni, and Bia Bedran. I've also put together vocal groups or choruses for performance with Fagner, Elomar, Roupa Nova, Elza Soares, and others. Paulinho and I have been talking about doing something involving samba for quite a while when he returned from his studies abroad with this ingenious idea of founding a conjunto vocal dedicated exclusively to samba. Arranco may be the work that, of all I've done in my entire life, comes closest to my ideal of high-level popular music.

Brazzil—Eveline, you're one of the original "de Varsóvia" members, and you also have another career.

Eveline Hecker—I have a degree in pedagogy and teach singing to adolescents and adults. I studied piano and classic singing, worked with choruses, did solo shows, and sang with Vinícius Cantuaria, Francis Hime, Beth Carvalho, and Tom Jobim. Coming from a classical music background, I've found that samba has enriched and enlarged my experience as an artist. My contact with Beth Carvalho occurred simultaneously with my work with Tom Jobim, and it influenced my choice in the direction of popular music. For me, Arranco is the place where one goes to sing samba—an inexhaustible source of pleasure and apprenticeship of music and life.

Brazzil—Jurema, you're the new kid on the block. What did you do before Arranco?

Jurema de Cândia—I began my career at the age of fifteen, singing in dances. I sang backup for Maria Bethânia, Tim Maia, Elba Ramalho, Roberto Carlos, and Pepeu Gomes in shows throughout Brazil, South America, Europe, and Japan. I recorded jingles and sang on the discs of Alceu Valença, Maria Bethânia, Alcione, Beth Carvalho, Emílio Santiago, Julio Iglesias, Grupo Fundo de Quintal, and Elba Ramalho. I joined Arranco in October 1998. It was, without a doubt, a great present for me in terms of professional realization. This is work where I spend all my time with the culture of my country, enabling me to sing and delight in the gorgeous compositions of our great songwriters.

Brazzil—Rita, we already know something about your solo activities.

Rita Peixoto—In 1994 I was invited to participate in Arranco. I already knew all the members and thought that it could be an excellent idea to sing samba with friends. I had just launched my first solo CD [Rita Peixoto & Carlos Fuchs; 1993] and was doing shows. This was a different proposition and at the same time a challenge: I wouldn't be the only singer and would have to join my voice to the others'. The repertoire and the arrangements were beautiful, and I became interested immediately. I love our shows, they're fun! A fundamental question for me is the repertoire. Our third CD, which will be recorded this year, will have compositions by sambistas that aren't very well known; we're going to look for music that hasn't been recorded yet. I don't think that what Arranco's doing is a `rescue' of samba. Samba doesn't need to be rescued. Good music always has a guaranteed public.

Quem É de Sambar, track by track

Brazzil—Let's talk about your music. Your first disc, Quem É de Sambar, is a varied mixture of sambas, beginning with the title song, a call to anyone who's from samba to come and dance.

Murí Costa—"Quem É de Sambar" was my first arrangement for Arranco. The song was suggested to us by Beth Carvalho in an unforgettable night for us, when we sang for her at her house and she became our artistic godmother, having since accompanied our trajectory with a lot of affection and with memorable participations in our shows and discs. The great challenge of this song was the decision to divide the solos among all of us, and the tone in which we sang became a problem. The solution—changing the tone from D to F—is what gives me great satisfaction in this arrangement.

Paulo Malaguti—"Rosalina"—This tune was quite known by the samba crowd before we recorded it. Fundo de Quintal had released it in the late '80s when Arlindo Cruz and Sombrinha were still part of the group. This tune has been for years now the encore in our performances. It's one of the tunes that the whole group sings, alternating soloists. It refers to this independent girl that spends her week dancing in the pagodes around the suburbs of Rio. Many of these are mentioned in the lyrics: pagode dos boleiros, CCIP, Cacique (de Ramos). Rosalina is very busy partying and has only Tuesday left to make love. My contribution as arranger, other than harmonizing the voices, was especially the bass line of the main refrain and the intro and coda that, I believe, became organic parts of the tune.

"O Arranco de Varsóvia"—This tune came to me in a very natural and intuitive manner that I'm not quite used to. Sometimes I think I virtually psychographed it. Anyhow, the group needed a tune like this to be used as self-reference, and I'd been thinking about it for a while. The main idea was suggested to me by our performance director Túlio Feliciano, who observed during a chat that one of our interesting characteristics was that we were different from the typical sambista, that we could be considered citizens of the world dedicated to the art of samba. I thought this comment was very accurate and positive, and when I sat down to write the tune it appeared to me instantly. I'm not an intuitive composer, I spend lots of time on each tune, and this one was definitely different. There is no vocal arrangement in this tune because there was no need for that. I made a verse especially for each member of the group, and it fit very well. Beth Carvalho showed up, and we had to twist the original key (from A to F) to fit her very personal voice range.

"Amor Até o Fim"—Gilberto Gil composed this samba in the mid '60s, and it was brilliantly sung by Elis Regina in two of her albums. The first time I heard it I was intrigued by its awkward structure, where two tonal centers are displayed, and by the improvised part at the end. I felt this would be a good tune for Soraya's agile singing and dancing abilities and for my own improvisational skills at the piano. This is one of our jazzy bossa nova arrangements, and the use of Luis Alves' upright bass reinforces this sonority. The use of plain batucada and no drumset is one of our original trends, and we use it to keep a tough percussive feel, thus escaping from the cool bossa nova beat.

Brazzil—Next you have Chico Buarque's "Biscate." I didn't think it was possible to improve on Chico's duet with Gal Costa in Paratodos, but you've done it.

Paulo Malaguti—This tune [the title means earning money by doing odd jobs] describes a funny quarrel between a poor carioca couple. He sells mate on the beach, she spends the food tickets on booze, he's jealous and she's not trustworthy. This is Chico Buarque's world, where common man is universal through his weaknesses and passions. I firmly believe there is no one in the world composing like Chico. Melody, harmony, and poetry at its best! Have you heard "Iracema Voou" from his latest album? My arrangement begins with the option of having Rita, with her powerful voice and attitude, take the part of the man, and the rest of us taking the part of the woman. Very close four-voice jazzy chords are included in the vocalized parts, making use of the refined harmonic path of the tune. The intro, middle-part scat singing, and final coda are all my creations. This coda makes a radical modulation that makes the tune more and more aggressive until its final 'chega!'

"Quem Me Vê Sorrindo"—This is a very special tune for me and for Arranco too. This was the first arrangement I made for the group, and it was based on a very specific recording. In the mid-'40s Leopold Stokowski went on a diplomatic trip to South America as part of the Good Neighbor policy invented by Roosevelt during W.W.II to maintain his south-of-the-border allies. Stokowski came on a ship with a recording studio in it to capture native Brazilian music, and his contact in Rio was Villa-Lobos. Villa-Lobos hurried to call the main popular musicians then. So Cartola and the Mangueira crowd; Donga, composer of the first samba ever recorded ["Pelo Telefone"; 1917]; Jararaca and Ratinho; Luis Americano; Zé Espinguela; and others gathered in the ship and recorded many different things. Among these was "Quem Me Vê Sorrindo." These recordings were kept by the US State Department for years, until many years later Lúcio Rangel and other Brazilian musicologists recovered them in Washington, DC. I was given one of these records when they were released by Funarte in 1993 and was very impressed with the whole album and particularly with this specific track. The blending of a very delicate melody and poem, the sound of the pastoras with the early Mangueira drumming made a deep impression on my understanding of the history of samba. So I used exactly the same form as the original recording in making my own polyphony for the intro and harmonizing the main melody. This melody is so well done that it makes it easy for the arranger to create the other voices to accompany it. This song remains for us in Arranco a very powerful greeting card when we make short appearances. This is the song that we first showed Beth Carvalho, and she was sincerely touched by our singing. We recorded it again on our second album in a slightly different version.

"Consideração"—Cartola made only this one tune with Heitor dos Prazeres, painter, poet and composer, and when we listened to it we all agreed that Rita should be the soloist. In our performances, this tune gets a warm reaction from the audience. Cartola's ultra-refined melodic sense gives a frame for a poem about dishonor and betrayal in a love relationship. The intro and middle section were created intentionally as a weeping moan (ai, ai,) and increase dramatic force in the tune. We recorded this tune again in our second CD, reducing many elements.

Rita Peixoto—Many women ask me if I sing this song for someone special. I don't sing for any special person, I only `visit' an emotion. Cartola didn't like fast sambas; he said that he didn't know how to make fast sambas. He really liked to compose slow sambas, and "Consideração" is the proof.

Paulo Malaguti—"A Felicidade Perdeu Meu Endereço"—I was introduced to this song at a tribute to one of its composers, Pedro Caetano, where I played piano and arranged a few tunes. The intro had been originally conceived for piano, guitars, and mandolin, and I transposed it to voices. It was sung by Ithamara Koorax, who happens to be Soraya's sister, and this was one of the reasons that in Arranco it was sung by Soraya. This pair of composers, Pedro Caetano and Claudionor Cruz, belongs to the brilliant generation of the '40s. They had some hits like "Onde Estão os Tamborins" and many beautiful melodies and lyrics. This poem has a very original view of loneliness: the poet tries to escape sadness by offering his heart for a party. He invites joy, happiness, and other feelings, but different characters, like silence and sadness, show up instead. And at a certain point hope leaves the party, telling him to wake up from his illusion because happiness won't show up—it's lost the address to his heart. This tune had a very different treatment, obviously, because of its silent nature. Cello, piano, upright bass, and vocals make a delicate and haunting setting for Soraya's deep interpretation. The piano was recorded in my house with an Adat recorder.

Brazzil—Usually we hear João Gilberto singing solo versions of old vocal group songs. It's startling to hear the process reversed, as you've done with "Pra Que Discutir Com Madame."

Paulo Malaguti—My goal as arranger in this tune was to take it back to a samba feel as opposed to João Gilberto's fantastic bossa nova version. Again I created the intro, the modulating section that leads to Murí's solo, and small comments by the group that punctuate the spirit of the lyrics. I kept the quote of Tchaikovsky's theme that was inserted in João's version. The lyrics talk about the prejudice of a rich woman who says that samba is a minor form of art compared to classical music, and the poet's answer is that `Brazilian democratic samba has real value.'

Murí Costa—"Pãozinho de Açucar"—I think that the major reason for our singing this song is the enormous passion all of us have for Rio de Janeiro, and the form of saying this in the song is very special. What stands out in the arrangement is the high unison of the meninas [girls]—our `pastoras'—that's increasingly becoming one of the most important timbres and characteristics of Arranco.

"São Paulo Rio"—Zé Miguel Wisnik is an old friend and collaborator of Arranco, having been brought into our midst by Eveline. This is our only `non-samba' and perhaps because of this it causes a certain wonder in people. It's also the only song sung only by the meninas, which changes our sonority a bit, turning it a little sweeter and higher. The style of the arrangement is also different from all the rest, being all constructed with voices in parallel movement. All these factors together create a special place for this song in our repertoire.

Paulo Malaguti—"Mas Quem Disse Que Eu Te Esqueço"—Dona Ivone Lara, one of our greatest samba composers, joined Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, poet and cultural activist, to write this song that became a hit in Beth Carvalho's voice. In live performances there is a choreography that was spontaneously created by the samba crowd that gives greater life to this tune. Eveline sings it in her special `classy' style with emphasis on smooth syncopations. The `lalaialas' are made by Dona Ivone, and I made the counterpoints and the harmonized ending.

Murí Costa—"Nega do Cabelo Duro"—This is the only song whose arrangement isn't ours but of Bando da Lua. I transcribed the original from a cassette of Bando da Lua's US recordings [they sang this samba in English], adapting it for Arranco's formation, and it was selected by us as a point of departure, as an example of the spirit for our future direction. Perhaps it was our `how to arrange and sing a good samba.'

Samba de Cartola, track by track

Brazzil—You released Samba de Cartola to commemorate Cartola's 90th birthday last year.

Rita Peixoto—This second CD is the result of our having had a run at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in tribute to Cartola, who would have turned 90 in 1998. The show was a success, and we were invited to record it. Our show opened a series in which various artists presented music from different periods of Cartola's life; ours retraced the first phase of Cartola's career during the '30s and '40s.

Paulo Malaguti—Owing both to Cartola's carefully crafted tunes—where arrangements should not run over the song—and to lack of time to prepare, rehearse, and record what originally had been a live version, we relied strongly on every soloist to capture each of the tunes' spirit. I believe each of us had a fine individual performance with no harm to the collective unity of the CD. With Cartola we learned to be economical.

"Divina Dama"—This tune was a hit in the voice of Francisco Alves. It belongs to Cartola's first period, when he was very much acknowledged as the finest Mangueira composer.

Brazzil—In fact, Cartola was only 24 years old when Chico Alves recorded this song on 3 January 1933. He was the first singer to record Cartola, and this was his fifth Cartola recording since 1929.

Paulo Malaguti—My idea of arrangement for "Divina Dama" always was the rubato style presented in the first round of the tune. While I was showing this idea to Murí, he suggested that it had a waltz feel, and this was used in the meninas' intervention. This waltz feel meshed perfectly with the lyrics, where the protagonist dances with the Divine Lady at a ball. At the end I sing it regional-style, close to the original version. I like this track very much for many reasons, and one that I like to point out is the piano sound that our producer Armando Telles was able to create.

"As Rosas Não Falam"—This is Cartola's most famous tune. When we called Beth Carvalho to sing on our CD, we thought it would be interesting if she sang some other tune. She's been singing this one for many years, and we thought she'd love to sing something else. No way. Beth considers "As Rosas" her tune and is very jealous of it. So I had a very hard task to be original in this arrangement. I think the contrast between her soloing and our harmonized interventions made a good effect. Beth was very pleased with the result and especially with the two-three part fade-out vocals.

Murí Costa—"A Vila Emudeceu"— A great tribute by Cartola for Noel Rosa, composed under the impact of Noel's untimely death. He was Cartola's partner in some memorable sambas and drinking binges. This song has all its drama in the second part, and for this reason I put the vocal harmonizations only there. Although Cartola dedicated this song to Noel, he never mentions his name in the lyrics; that's why I asked for Noel's blessing when I was recording my solo voice part.

Paulo Malaguti—"Sim"—Lost love, unforgiving, and suffering make the spirit of this tune. The call `Amor' was based on an old Tamba Trio vocal arrangement. Pedal in E makes this haunting atmosphere until the tune beautifully modulates to B major and then back to E. Soraya sings brilliantly.

"Quem Me Vê Sorrindo"— We used our original arrangement but simplified it in many ways. Less arrangement, more soloist.

Brazzil—Revivendo just reissued rare recordings of Cartola's songs, including Cartola's own rendition of this song made for Leopold Stokowski on board the ship Uruguay. At that time, the song was titled "Quem Me Vê Sorrir." The same CD also contains Cartola's 1961 recording of "Amor Proibido."

Murí Costa—"Amor Proibido" & "Tive Sim"—The suggestion to unite these two songs came from Eveline, the soloist, and we got good results for three important reasons: the smoothness of Eveline's interpretation; the choice of using vocal harmonizations only at the beginning, intermezzo, and end; and, finally, the magnificent playing of Carlinhos on the 7-string guitar

Rita Peixoto—"Ao Amanhecer"—At the beginning, Mangueira had a Carnaval wing called ala dos Piriquitos. Cartola belonged to this wing and composed the song especially for it; apparently it was the composers' wing. In the song, he compares his companions to parakeets. Most parakeets are green, and this is one of the colors of Mangueira. They meet at dusk to compose, and the music is irresistible: `... faz dançar a própria lua.' [it makes even the moon dance]. The comparison is a happy one, and once again Cartola shows that he's the great master of slow sambas.

Murí Costa—"Ao Amanhecer" is, without doubt, my favorite song on the disc. When we were invited to do the Cartola tribute show, I immediately thought of this song, sung by Rita, and it appears that I was right. I came to know this song at the recording sessions for the CD O Sol Nascerá by Fernando Rocha, where Arranco participated in the track "Corra e Olhe o Céu," and I fell in love with it completely.

"Ciência e Arte"—This samba was a loser in one of Mangueira's samba-enredo competitions. It was composed in the nationalistic climate of the Getúlio Vargas era and came to us through the recording of Gilberto Gil's disc Quanta, where we participated in the chorus.

Paulo Malaguti—"Consideração"—Same procedure as in "Quem Me Vê Sorrindo." We took off vocals that were excessive but, again, had a hard time recording this track. The middle part where all instruments stop and Rita repeats the first part occurred to us in the studio during the mix.

"Dê-Me Graças, Senhora"—I'm definitely grateful to have run across this tune and to have arranged it and to sing it. This is a partnership between Cartola and a very talented guitarist called Cláudio Jorge.

Brazzil—This must be the same Cláudio Jorge who just produced and arranged Luiz Carlos da Vila's Candeia tribute A Luz do Vencedor and Nei Lopes' Sincopando o Breque. How old is he now?

Paulo Malaguti—Probably in his forties. Cláudio must have been very young when he composed this tune with Cartola, and this makes it very fresh and positive. Though retaining the dramatic mood of Cartola's poetry, these words speak of a mystic vision of love that sounds like a revelation. I tried to convey this reverential atmosphere with the introduction, which is in minor key leading to the tune's major, smiling tone.

Brazzil—"Não Posso Viver Sem Ela" was recorded by Ataulfo Alves on Side B of the hit "Ai! Que Saudades da Amélia." That original version is also on the Revivendo CD.

Paulo Malaguti——It's another of Cartola's early tunes. Soraya gives a bouncing interpretation, and the arrangement , instrumental, and vocal suggest this. The intermezzo leading to Murí's solo is one of the few vocal fireworks that we shot in this CD. By fireworks I mean virtuoso passages, which in Cartola's romantic tunes cannot be used so often.

This CD, as I said, pointed us to the notion of `less is more' in the Jobinian sense. We're trying to get to the essential elements of each tune and make them shine, and Cartola's music forces you to proceed this way. We are at this very moment choosing the repertoire for our next CD, and by means of new sambas that are being made today we'll be able to use what our first two CDs taught us.

Arranco on Disc

Quem É de Sambar (CD; 1997)
Dubas Música/WEA 063018941-2

Quem É de Sambar (Sombrinha/Marquinhos PQD)
Rosalina (Serginho Meriti/Luizinho)
Arranco de Varsóvia (Paulo Malaguti)
Amor Até o Fim (Gilberto Gil)
Biscate (Chico Buarque)
Quem Me Vê Sorrindo (Cartola/Carlos Cachaça)
Consideração (Cartola/Heitor dos Prazeres)
A Felicidade Perdeu Meu Endereço (Pedro Caetano/Claudionor Cruz)
Pra Que Discutir Com Madame (Haroldo Barbosa/Janet de Almeida)
Pãozinho de Açúcar (Martinho da Vila)
São Paulo Rio (José Miguel Wisnik/Paulo Neves)
Mas Quem Disse Que Eu Te Esqueço (Dona Ivone Lara/Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)
Nega do Cabelo Duro (Rubens Soares/David Nasser)

Produced by Paulo Brandão

Samba de Cartola (CD; 1998)
Dubas Música/WEA 398423104-2

O Sol Nascerá (Cartola/Elton Medeiros)
Divina Dama (Cartola)
As Rosas Não Falam (Cartola)
A Vila Emudeceu (Cartola)
Sim (Cartola/Oswaldo Martins)
Quem Me Vê Sorrindo (Cartola/Carlos Cachaça)
Amor Proibido (Cartola)
Tive Sim (Cartola)
Ao Amanhecer (Cartola)
Ciência e Arte (Cartola/Carlos Cachaça)
Consideração (Cartola/Heitor dos Prazeres)
Dê-me Graças, Senhora (Cartola/Cláudio Jorge)
Não Posso Viver Sem Ela (Cartola/Bide)

Produced by Armando Telles, Murí Costa & Paulo Malaguti

Special Participations

(CD; 1995)
SACI/CSN 107-727
An album dedicated to the work of the famed lyricist/producer Hermínio Bello de Carvalho on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Also with Ângela Maria, Martinho da Vila, Elba Ramalho, Zezé Gonzaga, Chico Buarque, Zeca Pagodinho, Ney Matogrosso, Nana Caymmi, Maria Bethânia, Paulinho da Viola, Caetano Veloso, and Alcione.

Cantochão (Maurício Carrilho/Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)

Grande Tempo (CD; 1995)
Velas 11-V114
Singer/composer Fátima Guedes' album.

O Dia em Que Faremos Contato (Lenine/Bráulio Tavares)

Aldir Blanc 50 Anos (CD; 1996)
Alma Produções Ltda. Alma/001
The poet/lyricist Aldir Blanc's retrospective album, celebrating his 50th birthday.

Vim Sambar (João Bosco/Cacaso/Aldir Blanc)

O Sol Nascerá (CD; 1996)
Independent release 1996/110053
Singer Fernando Rocha's tribute disc to Cartola. Also with Leandro Braga, Marcos Suzano, Maurício Carrilho, Pedro Amorim, Paulo Moura, Marco Pereira, Zé Nogueira, Cristina Buarque, Carlinhos 7 Cordas, Marcelinho Moreira, and others.

Corra e Olhe o Céu (Cartola/Dalmo Castelo)

Agô! Pixinguinha 100 Anos (double CD; 1997)
Som Livre 1030-2
A commemorative box set produced by Hermínio Bello de Carvalho in celebration of the legendary composer Pixinguinha's centenary.

1 x 0 [Um a Zero] (Pixinguinha/Benedito Lacerda/Nelson Ângelo)

Coisa da Antiga (CD; 1998)
Rob Digital RD 014
Família Roitman's second CD.

Hora do Adeus (Elton Medeiros/Délcio Carvalho)
A Cabeça (Paulinho de Castro)
Eu Vivia Isolado do Mundo (Alcides da Portela)
Mastruço e Catuaba (Claudio Cartier/Aldir Blanc)
Coisa da Antiga (Wilson Moreira/Nei Lopes)

Simpatia 15 Carnavais (CD; 1998)
Simpatia É Quase Amor P0043/98
Rio's best-known carnaval bloco marked its 15th anniversary this year with an album featuring the fourteen sambas of the previous years, each sung by a different star. Arranco sang the samba of 1990. Also with João Bosco, Noca da Portela, Moacyr Luz, João Nogueira, Luiz Carlos da Vila, Tânia Machado, Lenine, Elza Soares, Zeca Pagodinho, Beth Carvalho, Walter Alfaiate, Martinho da Vila, and Monarco.

Um Ano Depois (Lenine/Bráulio Tavares)

Arranco's Songs

Quem É de Sambar
(Sombrinha/Marquinhos PQD)

Quem é de sambar, vem agora,
Vem agora, vem agora
Pra dizer no pé não tem hora
Não demora não demora
Quem samba procura o prazer de viver
Desfaz essa magoa que só faz sofrer
Que o samba tá pronto pra te receber

Meu samba é puro, não deixa em apuro
Quem quer encontrar solução
É a receita de Deus, é uma religião
Que faz o fraco se fortalecer
E o indeciso pôr os pés no chão
Se é mal de amor não deixa doer
É um remédio pro coração

Meu samba não pede passagem
Nem leva bagagem de mão
Em qualquer canto ele está
Porque é dele esse chão
Com sua força de contagiar
Vai cativando quem não quer chegar
Mas sei que tem gente
no fundo querendo sambar
É, mas sei que tem gente
no fundo querendo sambar

Meu samba não tem corda bamba
E a nossa caçamba tem corda de não rebentar
É mas sei que tem gente
no fundo querendo sambar
Meu samba é a arte mais pura a nossa mistura,
Cultura que é bem popular
É mas sei que tem gente
no fundo querendo sambar
Meu samba merece respeito e não dá o direito
A quem só quer descriminar
É, mas sei que tem gente
no fundo querendo sambar
Quem é de sambar, vem agora

Who's From Samba

(Translation: Paulo Malaguti)

Whoever's from samba, come now,
Come now, come now
Anytime is a good time to say it with your feet,
It won't take long, won't take long
He who sambas seeks the pleasure of living
Take off this sorrow that only makes you suffer
For samba is ready to receive you

My samba is pure, it doesn't leave helpless
Him who wants to find solutions
It's God's recipe, it's a religion
That fortifies the weak
And makes the undecided put his foot down
If there's a heartache, it won't let it hurt
It's a balm for the heart

My samba doesn't ask for a ride
It takes no hand-luggage
It's in every corner
For this soil is its own
With its contagious force
It captivates those who won't come
And I know there are people
who deep down want to samba
Yes, I know there are people
who deep down want to samba

My samba doesn't hang on a rope
And it can safely carry big weights
And I know there are people
who deep down want to samba
My samba is the purest art, it's our mixture,
Culture that's really popular
And I know there are people
who deep down want to samba
My samba deserves respect and gives no rights
To those who only want to discriminate
And I know there are people
who deep down want to samba
Whoever's from samba, come now


O Arranco de Varsóvia
(Paulo Malaguti)

Me leva pra onde o Arranco de Varsóvia está
Eu quero ficar por lá
É naquele pagode que eu fico legal
Pois saiba que a rapaziada do Arranco ja está
Aqui nesse bendito local,
cantando histórias

Flores de Katmandu,
Borboletas vermelhas em Madagáscar
Sou homem do mundo, não paro um segundo,
Mulheres eu tenho que galantear
Mas em Varsóvia encontrei
A morena que sabe sensibilizar
Em Varsóvia que eu quero viver
É no Arranco que eu quero morar

Me leva pra onde o Arranco...

Vinhos da Macedônia, aguardente de cana de
Jerusalém, Maconha da Bósnia,
haxixe da Pérsia
Xexênia do chopp, chopp do bem
Minha cabeça rodando numa
frigideira internacional
Mas só cheiro o perfume de Varsóvia
É o Arranco na veia principal

Me leva pra onde o Arranco...

Jacas da Filadélfia,
morangos nevados
da Costa do Sol
Bananas de Cuba, Kiwi da Mongólia,
Coquetel de uva de Vinha del Mar
Cada fruta que eu mordo que eu cuspo o caroço
É um samba novo que eu trago pra cá
Pro Arranco me capturar
Pra Varsóvia me civilizar

Me leva pra onde o Arranco...

Valsa de Reikjavik, bolero maluco
de Montevidéu
Piquenique dançante da costa brilhante
Balanço do suingue de Bornéu
Tudo isso me encanta, me sinto moderno
Até mesmo meu samba deve melhorar
Pra depois eu voltar pro Arranco
Em Varsóvia é que eu vou me acabar

Me leva pra onde o Arranco...

Kennedy declarou que Getúlio
ficou amarradão
Lenine curtiu, Mussolini engoliu
Ghandi guarda o Arranco no coração
Todos sambando de lado
Hipnotizados formando um cordão
Que vai dar num barraco
de Varsóvia
É o Arranco causando comoção

The Warsaw Pullout
(English version by the author)

Take me where the Warsaw Pullout is
I want to stay there
It's in that party that I really feel fine
For you should know that the Arranco crowd
Is already here in this blessed place,
Singing stories

Flowers in Katmandu
Red butterflies in Madagascar
I'm a man of the world, I can never stop
Since there are women to court everywhere
But in Warsaw I found the morena
Who knows how to be sensitive
Warsaw is where I want to live
And Arranco's where I want to dwell

Take me...

Wines of Macedonia, sugar-cane firewater from
Jerusalem, Bosnian marijuana,
Persian hashish,
Chechen draft beer, beer with good vibes
My head turning in an
international frying pan
And I can only sniff the perfume from Warsaw
It's Arranco in the principal vein

Take me...

Jackfruit from Philadelphia,
Strawberries & cream
from the Costa del Sol
Cuban bananas, Mongolian kiwi,
Viña del Mar's grape cocktail
Every fruit that I eat and whose seed I spit
Is a new samba that I bring back
For Arranco to capture me
For Warsaw to civilize me

Take me...

A waltz from Reykjavik, a crazy bolero
from Montevideo
A dancing picnic of the shining coast
Swinging to the swing of Borneo
All of this enchants me, makes me feel modern
And my samba will probably improve
Then I'll be back to Arranco
In Warsaw I will dance 'til the end (of time)

Take me...

Kennedy declared that Getúlio
was really turned on
Lenin loved, Mussolini swallowed
Gandhi keeps Arranco in his heart
All of them hypnotized,
dancing a weird samba alongside
Forming a long line that leads to
a shed in Warsaw
It's Arranco causing a commotion


Pãozinho de Açúcar

(Martinho da Vila)

Ah, sou gamado por você
Não devia mas não posso
dominar meu coração
Ah, meu pãozinho de açúcar
Quero ser seu Corcovado
Sua Barra da Tijuca

Cheguei de mansinho
em busca do amor
Então mergulhei na sua Lagoa
Qual um peixinho
Nadei no seu rio
Deitei no seu leito
Fiquei numa boa

Ah, sou gamado por você...

Vou fazer neném na sua barriga
Porque voce é a maravilhosa
Bela, gostosa, sem fantasia
Manda no Rei
Cai na folia

Ah, sou gamado por você...

My Little Sugar Loaf

(Translation: Paulo Malaguti)

Ah, I'm in love with you
I shouldn't but I can't
control my heart
Ah, my little Sugar Loaf
I want to be your Corcovado
Your Barra da Tijuca

I arrived smoothly,
looking for love
So I dived into your lagoon
Like a little fish
Swam in your river
Lay in your bed
Felt good

Ah, I'm in love with you...

I'm gonna make a baby in your belly
Because you are the marvelous one
Beautiful, tasty, naked of costume
Rules the King
And has fun

Ah, I'm in love with you...


Ciência e Arte

(Cartola/Carlos Cachaça)

Tu és meu Brasil em toda parte
Quer na ciência ou na arte
Portentoso e altaneiro
Os homens que escreveram tua história
Conquistaram tuas glórias
Epopéias triunfais
Quero neste pobre enredo
Reviver glorificando os homens teus
Levá-los ao panteon dos
grandes imortais
Pois merecem muito mais

Sem querer elevá-los ao
cume da altura
Cientistas tu tens e tens cultura
E neste rude poema destes
pobres vates
Ha sábios como Pedro Américo
e César Lattes

Science and Art

(Translation from Quanta)

You are my Brazil everywhere
Be it in science or in art
Prodigious and haughty
The men that wrote your history
Conquered your glories
Triumphal epic poems
I wish in this poor story
To relive glorifying your men
Take them to the Pantheon of
great immortals
For they deserve much more

Not wanting to take them to the
peak of heights
Scientists you have and culture
And in this rude poem of these
poor bards
There are wise men like Pedro Américo
and César Lattes


As Rosas Não Falam


Bate outra vez com esperanças o meu coração
Pois já vai terminando o verão, enfim
Volto ao jardim com a certeza que devo chorar
Pois bem sei que não queres voltar para mim
Queixo-me às rosas mas que bobagem
as rosas não falam
Simplesmente as rosas exalam o perfume
que roubam de ti, ah...
Devias vir para ver os meus olhos tristonhos
E quem sabe sonhavas meus sonhos enfim

Roses Don't Speak

(Translation: Paulo Malaguti)

Once again my heart beats with hope
For summer's finally coming to an end
I return to the garden, certain that I must cry
For I know that you won't come back to me
I complain to the roses, but what nonsense,
roses don't speak
Roses simply give off the perfume
they steal from you, ah...
You should come to see my saddened eyes
And, who knows, dream my dreams at last


O Sol Nascerá

(Cartola/Elton Medeiros)

A sorrir eu pretendo levar a vida
Pois chorando eu vi a mocidade perdida
Finda a tempestade
O sol nascerá
Finda esta saudade
Hei de ter outro alguém para amar

The Sun Will Rise

(Translation: Paulo Malaguti)

I will lead my life smiling
Because weeping I saw my youth lost
End of the storm
The sun will rise
Longing ended
I will have someone else to love


The writer publishes the online magazine of Brazilian music and culture Daniella Thompson on Brazil and the website Musica Brasiliensis, where she can be contacted.

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