Brazil - BRAZZIL - Almir Chediak and Lumiar - Brazilian Music - December 1999

December 1999

Let there
be Lumiar

How a guitar teacher turned a fledgling publishing
firm into the cultural powerhouse known
as Lumiar Discos & Editora.

Daniella Thompson

Before he became the music mogul he is today, Almir Chediak was a teacher of guitar and harmony. First he taught a generation of singers and instrumentalists such as Gal Costa, Nara Lećo, Tim Maia, Carlos Lyra, Elba Ramalho, Cazuza, Ricardo Silveira, and Moraes Moreira. Then he took on the musical education of their children: Moreno Veloso, Pedro Gil, and Davi Moraes are some musicians' sons who passed through Chediak's hands. Being also an avid collector of MPB (mśsica popular brasileira) discs, Chediak was bound to hit upon the idea of musical education for the multitudes.

The dream began to take shape in 1984, with a dictionary of guitar chords. "There was a paucity of educational material for popular music," says Chediak, "Until then, only classic harmony was studied, and it was full of rules. The musician came out educated, but with no basis for playing in night spots." By 1987, with Lumiar already in business, Chediak published a book on harmony and improvisation that continues to be a success among beginning musicians.

Along the way, Chediak conceived the idea of the songbook, a collection of song scores including lyrics, melody, and harmony that would give guitar professionals and amateurs alike ready access to the works of Brazil's best songwriters. That was eleven years ago. The Veloso connection yielded the first Lumiar songbook in 1988, with 135 of Caetano's songs collected in two volumes. Lumiar prides itself on publishing accurate sheet music and lyrics, and each composer it publishes—if still alive—actively participates in finalizing the scores. Working with Caetano, Chediak says, he learned to differentiate between real rhythmic division and what is merely interpretation. In his turn, Caetano, whose lyrics were for years erroneously printed even in his own albums' notes, finally got a correct edition of his major works.

In addition to songs, the Caetano Veloso songbook contained photos, a biographical text, and an interview with the songwriter, as well as his discography as a performer. This format set the mold for future Lumiar publications, and the concept took off to such an extent that Chediak copyrighted the word Songbook, not to everyone's pleasure. He hasn't stopped since. Songbook Caetano Veloso was followed by Bossa Nova (with 312 songs in five volumes); Antonio Carlos Jobim (in three volumes); Cazuza and Rita Lee (in two volumes each).

In 1991, a new component was introduced into the formula. In tandem with the three books of Songbook Noel Rosa, Lumiar launched its first CD. It was a revelation. Noel's sambas, all composed in the 1920s and '30s (the composer died in 1937), were displayed in sparkling new settings. On the very first track, Antonio Carlos Jobim and his band turned "Trźs Apitos," Noel's declaration of longing for a factory worker, into a Jobinian tour de force. Songbook Noel Rosa showcased stars on the order of Djavan, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Joćo Bosco, Maria Bethānia, Caetano Veloso, and Chico Buarque in 22 of Noel's best-known sambas. The booklet provided printed lyrics—often regarded as an unnecessary luxury in Brazilian discs. In short, it was a winning combination that Lumiar has since repeated again and again.

In 1992 came Gilberto Gil, with two books and three discs. In 1993, Vinicius de Moraes (three books, three CDs) and Dorival Caymmi (80+ songs in two books and four CDs—practically the entire output of the Bahian composer). Carlos Lyra (a book and a CD) and Edu Lobo (a book and two CDs) appeared in 1994. Then Lumiar's production began to assume larger proportions. In 1995 we got Songbook Ary Barroso (two books, three CDs) and the two discs of Antonio Carlos Jobim Instrumental. Jobim's vocal compositions were released on five discs in 1996, followed in 1997 by Songbook Djavan in two books and three CDs, which was followed by Songbook Marcos Valle (a book and two CDs) in 1998.

This year's first songbook package, Joćo Donato, consists of a book and three CDs (see review). The second, released just before Christmas, is the eagerly awaited mammoth Songbook Chico Buarque, comprising four books and eight CDs (the reviews are mixed). Songbook Joćo Bosco and another one of choro are in the works. Chediak's most ambitious project to date (will it be realized?) is meant to encompass ten books containing the most representative 600 Brazilian songs of the 20th century.

Each Lumiar songbook comes with its own tale. Working with Tom Jobim meant six months' worth of fax exchanges between Rio and New York. The melodic richness of Dorival Caymmi's songs suggested more elaborate guitar chords than those played by the composer. When Chediak proposed new harmonies, Caymmi said, "This is how I would have wanted to do it but wouldn't have been able to." With Djavan, the case was reversed. "Djavan has highly complicated divisions that I couldn't smooth out. His music is interpretation. No matter how many times I asked, he always repeated it exactly the same way. His book ended up being a rhythmic reading," explains Chediak. Songbook Djavan took seven years to produce.

Along the way, Chediak branched out into non-songbook publications, although Lumiar's entire output continues to be MPB-related. The catalog offers numerous how-to books for singers and instrumentalists, as well as reference works and non-technical books. Among the latter are the works of music critic and historian Sérgio Cabral, who chronicled the life and work of musical giants Pixinguinha, Ary Barroso, Elizeth Cardoso, and Antonio Carlos Jobim and wrote the history of Rio de Janeiro's escolas de samba.

In the disc realm, Lumiar launched the mini-series Letra & Mśsica, paying tribute to the work of four great songwriters who demonstrated excellence in both music and lyrics. These were given expert interpretations by pairs of seasoned performers. The Ary Barroso disc was recorded by Rosa Passos & Lula Galvćo (guitar); Chico Buarque by Joćo Nogueira & Marinho Boffa (piano); Noel Rosa by Johnny Alf & Leandro Braga (piano); and Tom Jobim by Leny Andrade & Cristovćo Bastos (piano).

In recent years, Lumiar has also become home to first-rate musicians who might not otherwise find a quality label in the commercially oriented Brazilian music market. The label's steady roster includes Joćo Donato; bossanovista Rosa Passos, who just released her third Lumiar disc, Morada do Samba (see review); crack pianist and arranger Cristovćo Bastos, who finally got a chance to release his own solo CD, Avenida Brasil; and talented young singer Carol Saboya, the first artist to be launched outright by Lumiar, and whose second disc, Janelas Abertas, is reviewed here. Carol Saboya is the daughter of pianist/composer Antonio Adolfo. "I'm a fan of Carol's," says Chediak, "When she was a year-and-a-half old, she already sang, and I accompanied her on the guitar. Whenever I changed the tonality, she quickly followed." Chediak's greatest pleasure, he claims, is in being able to help new generations of budding musicians like the 14-year old that appeared one day with his mother in Lumiar's office. "He said that he'd learned to play by himself, using only the songbooks. I asked him to play "Beatriz" (by Edu Lobo & Chico Buarque), which isn't easy, and he acquitted himself very well," concludes the proud publisher.

Lumiar's website (English & Portuguese): 

New Lumiar Releases

Carol Saboya & Nelson Faria's Jobim Tribute—Focusing on the Uncommon

This has been the year of the Jobim Tribute.

What with heavyweights like Joćo Donato, Gal Costa, Toninho Horta, and Quarteto Jobim-Morelenbaum among those releasing Tudo Tom albums (and subject to polemics as to the necessity for an nth version of "Chega de Saudade") it would have been embarrassing if not foolhardy to bring out yet another new Jobim tribute were it not for the high quality of the offering.

The latest contribution, Janelas Abertas, comes from a label that has become a veritable Jobim factory. Having already released similar discs by Leny Andrade & Cristovćo Bastos, Rosa Passos, and Joćo Donato, not to mention five vocal and two instrumental Songbook Antonio Carlos Jobim CDs and Minha Alma Canta—Jobim's own recordings from Lumiar's other songbooks—Chediak now gives us singer Carol Saboya and guitarist Nelson Faria's interpretations.

The good news is that Janelas Abertas is free of clichés. No "Chega de Saudade" here. Nor will you find "Desafinado" or "Corcovado" or "Garota de Ipanema" or "Įguas de Marēo." The repertoire was chosen with care, and the songs (see tracklist) are given an intimate setting where they blossom quietly into subtle beauty.

Carol Saboya made her recording debut last year with the accomplished disc Danēa da Voz, for which she won the prestigious Sharp Award as Female Singer Revelation of 1998. In Janelas Abertas she is given the opportunity to demonstrate again her lovely voice, technical ability, musicality, and sensitivity to the material. The voice, accompanied by Nelson Faria's guitar in low-key and highly appropriate arrangements, never overwhelms the compositions. It is the songs that are given the spotlight in this intelligent production. The result is a disc that should please not only Jobim fans but all who appreciate the art of the song.

Janelas Abertas

Carol Saboya & Nelson Faria Interpretam Canēões de Antonio Carlos Jobim

Lumiar Discos LD41-02/99; 1999

01. Meninos, eu vi (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Chico Buarque)

02. Ana Luiza (Antonio Carlos Jobim)

03. Estrada do sol (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Dolores Duran)

04. Chansong (Antonio Carlos Jobim)

05. Canēćo em modo menor (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes)

06. Caminhos cruzados (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonēa)

07. Fotografia (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Chico Buarue)

08. Estrada branca (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes)

09. Foi a noite (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonēa)

10. Bonita (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Ray Gilbert)

11. Sem vocź (Antonio Carlos Jobim/ Vinicius de Moraes)

12. Janelas abertas (Antonio Carlos Jobim/ Vinicius de Moraes)

13. Espelho das įguas (Antonio Carlos Jobim)

14. Chora coraēćo (Antonio Carlos Jobim/ Vinicius de Moraes)

Songbook Joćo Donato, an Exercise in Brilliance

After a protracted period of anticipation, Songbook Joćo Donato is finally out in both book and disc form.

We've been rewarded with a package well worth the wait. Despite his innovative contributions to bossa nova and Latin jazz, Donato has remained a well-kept secret throughout his almost 50-year career. A cult idol regarded as a musician's musician, he hasn't received the widespread acclaim due an artist of his magnitude. This songbook package begins to redress a long-standing injustice.

The book

In addition to gathering 52 of Donato's songs (melodies, lyrics, and harmony chords for acoustic and electric guitar) in a single volume, the bilingual (Portuguese and English) Songbook Joćo Donato provides a preface by Lumiar's publisher/editor Almir Chediak; an overview of Donato's career by the music critic Tįrik de Souza; an interview between Chediak and Donato edited by Sérgio Cabral; and a partial discography of Donato (including disc-cover reproductions).

There's also a collection of interesting photos from Donato's life, ranging from childhood pictures to portraits of Donato's muses—among them his great love, singer/songwriter Dolores Duran, and immortal singer Aracy de Almeida. The artist's career can be traced from its beginnings: the 16-year old Donato playing accordion at the Monte Carlo nightclub; the 19-year old Donato, still on the accordion, at Rįdio Guanabara in the company of, among others, legendary Época de Ouro guitarist César Faria (who's Paulinho da Viola's father) and equally legendary flutist Altamiro Carrilho; a rare 1957 shot taken in downtown Rio, where Donato is shown striding alongside his alter ego, the yet unknown Joćo Gilberto, who's wearing black-framed glasses ą la Federico Fellini. The pair are also portrayed performing together in Viareggio, Italy in 1963, although the caption dates the photo from 1962.

The discs

There are three discs in the Songbook Joćo Donato set, and they're among the best that Lumiar has produced thus far. As usual with Lumiar's productions, the brightest stars, both vocalists and instrumentalists, have been summoned to perform the songs. However, the Donato songbook is the only one in which the composer takes an active part as pianist and support vocalist in some of the recordings, in addition to having arranged a number of the songs (he participates in a total of 13 tracks). This should be of particular interest to Donato sticklers, who would be glad to know that Donato's compelling compositions receive here proper Donatian arrangements that embellish his songs without interfering with their simplicity.

I was hard-put to single out any outstanding song or performance, owing to the uniformly high quality of the offerings. Vol. 1 is off to a roaring start with Gal Costa lending her incomparable voice to "Simples Carinho" and Chico Buarque giving "Brisa do Mar" all the intimacy it deserves. They are followed by Edu Lobo in "Nua Idéia"; J.T. Meirelles & Ed Motta in a rollicking rendition of "Bananeira"; Joćo Bosco letting loose unexpected harmonies in "Mentiras"; and so it goes. Donato accompanies Luiz Melodia in a fine rendition of "Coisas Distantes," one of the songs he co-authored with Joćo Gilberto. The composer also does the honors as pianist in the chachachį "Nasci Para Bailar," sung here by Wanda Sį. The disc concludes with the early and memorable composition "Muito ą Vontade," uniting Donato on piano with Ivan Lins on vocals.

Nana Caymmi expertly opens Vol. 2 in "Até Quem Sabe," followed by Caetano Veloso & Donato in "O Fundo" and Daniela Mercury & Guinga in "A Rć." The composer makes four more appearances on this disc. He accompanies Arnaldo Antunes in "A Bruxa de Mentira" and Joćo Bosco in "Nossas Śltimas Viagens." The final track is "Doralinda," sung by Donato Jr., with his father providing the syncopated piano accompaniment. The curiosity in Vol. 2 is "Os Caminhos," sung by the veteran radio queen Emilinha Borba, with Donato on piano. Donato is such an outstanding composer that it's hard to accuse him of plagiarism. Yet "Os Caminhos" is almost a dead ringer for the Mexican bolero "La Mentira" (aka "Se te olvida"), composed in 1965 by the late great Alvaro Carrillo. "La Mentira" is the same composition that influenced Joćo Bosco's "Latin Lover," so it may be possible that Donato's version is more of an unconscious borrowing than an outright theft (or perhaps Joćo Bosco was influenced by "Os Caminhos" rather than by "La Mentira"). Lumiar's songbooks don't include dates for published compositions, thus it's not easy to determine the age of "Os Caminhos" or the true origin of this melody.

Gilberto Gil leads off Vol. 3 with a charming voice & guitar interpretation of "Minha Saudade"—by far the best I've heard of this song, co-authored with Joćo Gilberto, who failed to appear on these discs despite past promises. Donato can also be heard with Djavan in "Depois do Natal"; with Rosa Passos in a wonderful recording of "A Paz"; with Ed Motta in "Everyday"; with Os Cariocas in "Lua Dourada"; and with Tita in "O Escafandrista." The Donato tracks alone would be reason enough to acquire this excellent set, but we're fortunate in getting much more in the bargain.

Songbook Joćo Donato Volume 1

Lumiar Discos LD 43-04/99; 1999

01. Simples carinho (Joćo Donato/Abel Silva)—Gal Costa

02. Brisa do mar (Joćo Donato/Abel Silva)—Chico Buarque

03. Nua idéia( Joćo Donato/Caetano Veloso)—Edu Lobo

04. Bananeira (Joćo Donato/Gilberto Gil)—J.T. Meirelles & Ed Motta

05. Mentiras (Joćo Donato/Lysias Enio)—Joćo Bosco

06. Maria Surpresa (Joćo Donato/Caetano Veloso)—Adriana Calcanhoto

07. Coisas distantes (Joćo Donato/Joćo Gilberto/Lysias Enio)—Luiz Melodia

08. Emoriō (Joćo Donato/Gilberto Gil)—Sandra de Sį

09. Nasci para bailar (Joćo Donato/Paulo André Barata)—Wanda Sį

10. Os verbos do amor (Joćo Donato/Abel Silva)—Emķlio Santiago

11. Sambou, sambou (Joćo Donato/Joćo Mello)—Joyce

12. Fim de sonho (Joćo Donato/Joćo Carlos Pįdua)—Rosa Passos

13. Cadź vocź? (Joćo Donato/Chico Buarque)—Angela Rō Rō & Antōnio Adolfo

14. Muito ą vontade (Joćo Donato/Lysias Enio)—Ivan Lins & Joćo Donato

Songbook Joćo Donato Volume 2

Lumiar Discos LD 44-05/99; 1999

01. Até quem sabe (Joćo Donato/Lysias Enio)—Nana Caymmi

02. O fundo (Joćo Donato/Caetano Veloso)—Caetano Veloso & Joćo Donato

03. A rć (Joćo Donato/ Caetano Veloso)—Daniela Mercury & Guinga

04. A bruxa de mentira (Joćo Donato/Gilberto Gil)—Arnaldo Antunes & Joćo Donato

05. Café com pćo (Joćo Donato/Lysias Enio)—Marcos Valle

06. Terremoto (Joćo Donato/Paulo César Pinheiro)—Elba Ramalho

07. É proibido afinar o piano (Joćo Donato/Nilo Batista)—Eduardo Dusek

08. Chorou, chorou (Joćo Donato/Paulo César Pinheiro)—Miścha

09.Nossas śltimas viagens (Joćo Donato/Joćo Bosco/Aldir Blanc)—Joćo Bosco & Joćo Donato

10. Amor perfeito (Joćo Donato/Moraes Moreira)—Moraes Moreira

11. Sambolero (Joćo Donato/Carmen Costa)—Carmen Costa

12. Os caminhos (Joćo Donato/Abel Silva)—Emilinha Borba

13. Quem diz que sabe (Joćo Donato/Paulo Sérgio Valle)—Johnny Alf

14. Doralinda (Joćo Donato/Cazuza)—Donato Jr.

Songbook Joćo Donato Volume 3

Lumiar Discos LD 45-06/99; 1999

01. Minha saudade (Joćo Donato/Joćo Gilberto)—Gilberto Gil

02. Depois do Natal (Joćo Donato/Lysias Enio/Joćo Mello)—Djavan & Joćo Donato

03. A paz (Joćo Donato/Gilberto Gil)—Rosa Passos

04. Naturalmente (Joćo Donato/Caetano Veloso)—Zélia Duncan & Lenine

05. Everyday [A Little Love] (Joćo Donato/Norman Gimbel)—Ed Motta & Joćo Donato

06. Gaiolas abertas (Joćo Donato/Martinho da Vila)—Leila Pinheiro

07. Daquele amor, nem me fale (Joćo Donato/Martinho da Vila)—Joćo Nogueira

08. Amazonas (Joćo Donato/Lysias Enio)—Verōnica Sabino & Leandro Braga

09. Flor de maracujį (Joćo Donato/Lysias Enio)—Dominguinhos

10. Entre um sim e um nćo (Joćo Donato/Abel Silva)—Zé Renato

11. Lua dourada (Joćo Donato/Fausto Nilo)—Os Cariocas & Joćo Donato

12. Lugar comum (Joćo Donato/Gilberto Gil)—Leny Andrade

13. Fonte da saudade (Joćo Donato/Lysias Enio)—Elza Soares

14. O escafandrista (Joćo Donato/Tita/Edson Lobo)—Tita

Rosa Passos Sings Rosa Passos

After a three-year absence, we have Rosa Passos again. Not that she was gone—she released an Ary Barroso disc in 1997 and a Tom Jobim/Joćo Gilberto tribute in 1998. But fans of Rosa Passos the songwriter have been deprived of her compositions since 1996, when she released her last Velas album, Pano Pra Manga.

It's an auspicious return. The Bahian singer/guitarist, who's been called `Joćo Gilberto in skirts,' is probably the foremost female bossanovista in the world today, celebrated for her intimist vocals, superb ability with rhythmic division, and the not inconsiderable feat of having given bossa nova a fresh new sound.

Now she returns with a polished jewel, Morada do Samba, in which eight of the songs were composed by her. Collaborating with guitarist and arranger Lula Galvćo—her recording partner for a number of years—and with musicians of the first line like pianist Gilson Peranzzetta, bassist Jorge Helder, drummer Erivelton Silva, and a host of distinguished instrumentalists, Rosa submerges us in a balmy pool of sophistication, good taste, mellow swing, and well-being.

Rosa sings of new passion, of small everyday scenes, of nature, of Bahia, and of music—topics that are very much at home within the musical confines of her songs. Ever so gently, she draws us into her world—a magical bubble that filters out all dissonance and stress, leaving us full of pure joy.

Rosa Passos: Morada do Samba

Lumiar Discos LD 42-03/99; 1999

01. Beiral (Djavan)

02. Esmeraldas (Rosa Passos/Fernando de Oliveira)

03. Pequena mśsica noturna (Rosa Passos/Fernando de Oliveira)

04. Roseira (Rosa Passos/Fernando de Oliveira)

05. Primavera (Rosa Passos/Walmir Palma)

06. Morada do samba (Rosa Passos/Walmir Palma)

07. Alma de blues (Rosa Passos/Fernando de Oliveira)

08. Marco (Rosa Passos/Sérgio Natureza)

09. Lį vem a baiana (Dorival Caymmi)

10. Nada igual (Rosa Passos/Sérgio Natureza)

11. Calmaria (Walmir Palma)

12. Saudade da Bahia (Dorival Caymmi)

13. Retiro (Paulinho da Viola)

Joćo Donato's Discography

The following partial list was extracted from Donato's complete discography on the website, which also includes label and format information, participations in other musicians' discs and in collections, and album covers:  

Altamiro Carrilho e Seu Regional (1949)

Donato e Seu Conjunto (1953)

Os Namorados (1953)

Os Namorados (1953)

Os Namorados (1954)

Donato e Seu Conjunto (1955)

Chį Danēante—Donato e seu Conjunto (1956)

Muito ą Vontade [Sambou Sambou] (1962)

A Bossa Muito Moderna de Donato e Seu Trio (1963)

Bud Shank/Donato/Rosinha de Valenēa [Bud Shank & His Brazilian Friends] (1965)

Piano of Joćo Donato—The New Sound of Brasil (1965)

Donato/Deodato [Joćo Donato] (1969)

A Bad Donato (1970)

Quem É Quem (1973)

Lugar Comum (1975)

Leiliadas—Joćo Donato Ao Vivo no People (1986)

Coisas Tćo Simples (EMI; 1996)

Café com Pćo—Joćo Donato & Eloir de Moraes (Lumiar; 1997)

Donatom—Só Danēo Samba (Lumiar; 1999)

Songbook Joćo Donato (Lumiar; 1999)

Rosa Passos' Discography

Recriaēćo (Chantecler; 1978)

Amorosa (1988)

Curare (Velas; 1991)

Festa (Velas; 1993)

Pano Pra Manga (Velas; 1996)

Letra & Mśsica Ary Barroso (Lumiar; 1997)

40 Anos de Bossa Nova—Rosa Passos Canta Antonio Carlos Jobim (Lumiar; 1998)

Morada do Samba (Lumiar; 1999)

Carol Saboya's Discography

Danēa da Voz (Lumiar; 1998)

Janelas Abertas—Carol Saboya & Nelson Faria Interpretam Canēões de Antonio Carlos Jobim (Lumiar; 1998)

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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