Brazil - BRAZZIL - Familia Roitman: White, Young & Playing Traditional Samba - Brazilian Music - July 1999

July 1999

the Tide

They're young. They're white. They're middle-class. Why are they playing traditional samba? What is this anomaly known as Família Roitman?

Daniella Thompson

Samba as we know it—the carioca variant of the Afro-Bahian dance—was born in Rio de Janeiro a little over eighty years ago. Its creators were blacks and mulattos who gathered at the homes of several legendary Bahian tias ('aunts') to make music. The first recorded samba, "Pelo Telefone" (Donga; 1917), was the result of a communal effort at Tia Ciata's house in the historic Praça Onze, now vanished from Rio's cityscape. In streets, parlors, and back yards, samba remained almost exclusively a non-white musical style, looked down upon by people of European descent. But the late 1920s ushered in the radio era, and with it white singing stars who broadcast samba far and wide and made it the most popular Brazilian musical form for the next fifty years.

The first great radio star, Francisco Alves, made his recording debut in 1920 with Sinhô's Carnaval hit "Pé de Anjo." Before long, he was driving to the morros (hills on which favelas are built) in search of material and buying sambas from composers of color, often adding his name to the authors' credits. Alves was the first singer to record Cartola's sambas when the composer was a mere lad of twenty. In 1928 Alves gained a singing partner and rival in Mário Reis, a wealthy socialite who had studied guitar with Sinhô. Mário Reis was the man who revolutionized the art of popular singing in Brazil and influenced generations to come. He was the first professional vocalist to sing naturally, taking advantage of the newly electrified microphone. Reis initiated the school of 'nasal' singing (as opposed to Chico Alves' 'chest' singing), among whose practitioners we find another revolutionary: João Gilberto.

During the Golden Age of samba, in the '30s, '40s, and '50s, the music market became more integrated, enabling singers of color—Orlando Silva, Sílvio Caldas, Aracy de Almeida, Moreira da Silva, Ataulfo Alves, Cyro Monteiro, and Elizeth Cardoso, to name a few of the most brilliant—to rise to the top of their profession. It wasn't until the late '60s that blacks began to dominate samba again, but when they did, they reclaimed it with a vengeance. During the past thirty years, practically all the first-line traditional samba and pagode performers—Cartola, Candeia, Clementina de Jesus, Nelson Cavaquinho, Jamelão, Zé Keti, Elza Soares, Clara Nunes, Roberto Ribeiro, Paulinho da Viola, Elton Medeiros, Dona Ivone Lara, Monarco, Martinho da Vila, João Nogueira, Nei Lopes, Wilson Moreira, Nelson Sargento, Grupo Fundo de Quintal, Alcione, Jovelina Pérola Negra, and Zeca Pagodinho—have been people of color, the notable exceptions being Beth Carvalho, Cristina Buarque, and few others.

Samba agora é artigo de luxo, é luxo só
Paulo César Pinheiro

Paulo César Pinheiro, a poet with his finger on the pulse of the nation, noted in the song "Artigo de Luxo" that samba today is an article of luxury, only luxury (also a reference to Ary Barroso's standard "É Luxo Só"). In the past decade, traditional samba has become an artigo de luxo, completely overshadowed by pop pagode. The latter, performed by young black male bands, dominates both radio waves and record sales to such an extent that numerous Cassandras have taken to prophesying the imminent death of samba.

It's in this musical climate that a group of white, well-educated and well-heeled young men decided to form a band and play traditional samba. Clearly, they never consulted a marketing expert, for it's impossible to go against the current more radically than they've done. To top it off, they go by the bizarre name of Família Roitman, the most un-samba-like moniker imaginable. Perhaps only the well-heeled can afford to indulge in such luxuries.

The amazing fact is that, regardless of adversarial market forces, Família Roitman is alive and well, with two discs to its credit. The first disc, O Samba nas Regras da Arte (Samba in the Rules of Art), recorded when they were still in their early twenties, includes sambas by old masters such as Noel Rosa, Ismael Silva, Lamartine Babo, and Assis Valente, as well as more recent tunes by living samba legends like Zé Keti and Paulinho da Viola (who appears on the album). The group's second album, titled Coisa da Antiga (Stuff of Old Times), continues to mine the same vein, placing an emphasis on the new but remaining faithful to the traditions. For this work the group received approbation in the press and collaborative support from stars on the order of João Bosco, who recently shared the stage with the Roitmans.

The current lineup of Família Roitman consists of Léo Tomassini (voice), Felipe Trotta (acoustic guitar), and Di Lutgardes (drums & percussion), although their recordings are augmented by the participation of many guest musicians. What propels these lads to persist in bucking the trend? I paid a visit to the group one evening in an attempt to plumb this mystery.

Brazzil—How long has Família Roitman been in existence?

Felipe Trotta—Our first performance was in 1988, although we met even earlier. I studied for almost my entire life at CEAT (Centro Educacional Anísio Teixeira), a school in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro which at the time was attended by the children of artists, musicians, and other liberal professionals. At CEAT I met Léo, who also passed almost his entire scholastic life there.

I began to study guitar because my mother had several musician friends and she took up playing. But she soon stopped and I continued; I was thirteen at the time. In 1988 I graduated from CEAT and enrolled in the music school of the Universidade do Rio de Janeiro. In our final school year at CEAT, we organized a group for a performance at the closing evening of a congress that took place there. We called the group Família Roitman, because at the time there was a very popular novela [soap opera] on TV whose villain was a character called Odete Roitman.

Léo Tomassini—This series, Vale Tudo, was watched by the whole country. The role of Odete Roitman was played by the wonderful actress Beatriz Segall, who gave a true-to-life representation of the elite of our country: dishonest, selfish, concentrating money in the hands of the few, socializing prejudices, acting as the lackey of rich countries like the USA (it's interesting that samba may be one of the few positive points created out of the relationship between rich and poor, be they countries or individuals). But the name Família Roitman at that time—and still today—stimulated laughs. A good way to translate the spirit of this name would be to compare it to Walt Disney's cartoon characters the Beagle Boys, that band of scruffy outlaws who're always trying to rob Uncle Scrooge McDuck's money bin.

Brazzil—So your beginnings were strictly amateurish.

Felipe Trotta—In the beginning, the work was a big joke about música popular brasileira; it included little comic sketches and satirized songs, as well as jingles from famous advertising campaigns of the period.

Léo Tomassini—We were dressed in jackets and ties, dancing and singing with ridiculous choreography; the audience was delirious. But in addition to the jingles, we performed musical genres forgotten by our media: bossa nova ("O Barquinho"), Jovem Guarda ("Detalhes") and a foxtrot by Lamartine Babo, "Canção Para Inglês Ver." This attention to the forgotten is what's remained of that beginning and what made Família Roitman what it is today: a band that plays samba, but samba that's profoundly tied to its origins and to the loyal followers of the traditions of the 1930s—the Golden Age of samba.

Felipe Trotta—After two performances at CEAT and later in a club called Perestroika, we decided to make our work more professional, since we thought it was of low quality but contained good ideas.

Brazzil—How difficult was it to professionalize?

Felipe Trotta—When we made this decision, we lost one of our members, Marcelo—a great friend of ours who was only interested in having fun and wasn't a musician, preferring to abandon the work so as not to be in the way. We remained three: Léo, myself, and André Weller, a pianist, also a friend from CEAT, who also studied music at the university but specialized in piano, while I studied composition. So we had a singer, a guitarist, a pianist, and some ideas. We needed a drummer.

I met Felipe Decourt at a party; he was the boyfriend of a friend of mine. He played drums, was interested in our idea, and we started rehearsing together. Felipe was one of the first to perceive that in our rehearsals—which still had an undefined repertoire—our results with sambas were better than with other rhythms. He suggested that we play only samba. I remember that I fought against this, but in the end I went along, as I realized that samba has an enormous variety, and that in samba we succeeded in doing something different—especially through the use of piano and drums, which are little-used in this genre. In this way we came to rehearse a repertoire and to search for old, unusual sambas.

Léo Tomassini—The rehearsals, all in a room in André's apartment in Flamengo, were profound experimentations, because we didn't really know what we were looking for. Certainly, we were looking for the 'forgotten,' but this 'forgotten' was vast: bossa nova, Jovem Guarda, sambas of the '30s, MPB, and even Arrigo Barnabé. I remember with nostalgia the rock 'n rolls of Roberto & Erasmo Carlos from the Jovem Guarda period; the song we sang was "O Sósia"—simply hilarious. And next to this we rehearsed "Nem É Bom Falar" by Ismael Silva and Nilton Bastos. André and Decourt, who're no longer in the band, suggested that we play only samba, and the funny thing is that Felipe and I resisted this idea.

Brazzil—How did you go about choosing your repertoire?

Felipe Trotta—Here it's important to mention a person that we haven't yet thanked publicly, but who was critical in defining the repertoire of our early work: the journalist Hugo Sukman. Hugo was a friend of André's and came to the rehearsals whenever he could, making various suggestions for the repertoire, indicating composers' profiles, showing us the work of some composers that I in particular didn't know, like Geraldo Pereira, Ismael Silva, Sinhô, and Noel [Rosa] himself!

Léo Tomassini—Little did we know what world we were entering. Our knowledge of samba was limited. Perhaps it was this ignorance that allowed us to initiate a voyage through this immense universe. All four of us were seduced by this magical carioca music. We immersed ourselves in this enormous and enormously glamorous world of the 1930s, populated by malandros, cabrochas, Madame Satã [a famous transvestite], Noel Rosa, Francisco Alves, and fantastic stories. We perceived that we were entering into a relationship not only with a musical genre but with the soul of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Orestes Barbosa said: "Samba is carioca. The city's emotion is musical and poetically defined in samba."

Chico Buarque said in the introductory text to one of his early LPs: "Samba comes to you via long and strange ways, without much explanation." Samba came to Família Roitman chronologically. Our most profound contact was with the samba of the '30s. Of course, we already knew bossa nova, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Paulinho da Viola, and João Bosco, but the discovery we made of the '30s vintage gave a new dimension to all of Brazilian popular music. It's impossible to think of Chico, Caetano, Paulinho, Gil, Gal, Maria Bethânia, Jorge Ben Jor, Tom Jobim, and João Gilberto without evoking the '30s. For me, this discovery was revolutionary; it made me look at Brazilian music from another angle—the angle of samba. All our great modern composers take forward the tradition of the Golden Age. Bossa nova is samba. João Gilberto always said that what he did and does is samba. And Chico Buarque says that before everything else, he's a sambista.

Felipe Trotta—Eventually we mounted our first real show on 21 September 1991, in a club called Lugar Comum (I still have one of the entrance tickets we sold). This, for me, is the true founding date of Família Roitman. Earlier, it had been play, hobby, amusement, preparation; intention but not fruition.

Brazzil—This show led to your first record.

Felipe Trotta—The first shows, all at Lugar Comum, were attended by relatives and friends; but surprisingly, our work also came to the attention of some important newspapers, and a critique of the show was published. We spent three years playing the show in Rio, without much regularity and always changing the repertoire. We played a variety of lesser-known clubs, with the exception of two shows at Mistura Fina, an important club here in Rio.

In 1994, we were invited by Teca Calazans to record a CD for a Brazilian music collection that she was coordinating at the French label Buda Musique. Teca is a friend of Deco, who at the time was our producer and who played a tape of our music for her. She found it interesting, but her husband, the music critic Philippe Lesage, loved it and thought it important to release our CD in France.

Brazzil—Philippe Lesage clearly has a great interest in older Brazilian music, as demonstrated by his historic samba and choro compilations for the French reissue label Frémeaux & Associés. At the same time Buda was releasing your first album, it also released Marcos Sacramento's A Modernidade da Tradição, with the same type of repertoire.

Felipe Trotta—In addition to repertoire, we also have the participation of Clara Sandroni in common with Sacramento. We entered the studio to record the CD, which was expensive, because Buda wasn't going to pay anything for the recordings—we had to deliver the disc, and they would only press and distribute it. Since we had little experience, we called Jayme Vignoli to work with us as recording coordinator and artistic producer. Jaiminho sweated a lot, because we were really green, but the result ended up being really fine.

As I said, we had the illustrious participation of the singer Clara Sandroni, and also of the great sambista Wilson Moreira and of Paulinho da Viola, which was the greatest honor and proof that we were on the right track. Paulinho came to record twice; the first time he noticed an error in the pre-recorded material and advised us to correct it, offering to return to the studio later, which sets apart the great artist and great personality he is.

Léo Tomassini—The disc was extremely well received by music critics, something incomprehensible to me today. I look at this album and see ingenuousness without precedents in the history of samba. The space it gained in the media was immensely greater than it deserved. Several factors contributed to this phenomenon: we were all middle-class youths from the Zona Sul, playing old sambas, a fact that caused a lot of wonder; and Brazil appeared to have forgotten the sambas of the '30s.

Brazzil—Apparently there was enough interest to launch a Brazilian edition of O Samba nas Regras da Arte.

Felipe Trotta—It was launched here in 1995 by Dubas Música. We spent two years 'working' the disc: doing shows, interviews, participations. We were working, but still much less than necessary and still not earning any money from this, which acted as a disincentive for André and Decourt, who left to study industrial design and engineering, respectively. With this, our work suffered somewhat, but we continued to perform: in São Paulo, in Campos, in Rio. Our CD was being played on an important radio station in São Paulo, and we appeared in some important TV programs

Brazzil—How did you finalize your present lineup?

Felipe Trotta—In 1997 came an invitation to participate in the Projeto Pixinguinha, touring central-eastern and northern Brazil along with the sambista Nelson Sargento. It was a not-to-be-missed trip, but it required being away from Rio for two weeks, and Decourt couldn't go. So we needed a substitute drummer for the tour and called Di Lutgardes. I met Di a year ealier, when I was asked to play guitar and write arrangements for a beginning singer, Tatiana Dauster, in whose band he was playing. After this, we worked again together with another singer and playing at a hotel in Rio. I decided to call him because I knew that he liked the sound and the idea of our music.

Di Lutgrades—When my two sisters and I were little, our dad used to take us on his knee and sing "Boogie Woogie na Favela." For a long time we thought that our father invented this song. Years later, when I got to know Família Roitman, I went to one of their shows and bought their first disc. And there was "Boogie Woogie na Favela" by Denis Brean. It was a very emotional discovery for me. When Felipe called to ask if I wanted to go on tour with them, I just said, "Give me the dates."

Felipe Trotta—When we returned, Decourt announced his official departure from the group. Once again we were three, the same three as in the beginning: Léo, André, and I. But this didn't last, for, André began to work as an art director in films and had to abandon ship as well. This was the worst crisis: Família Roitman had been reduced to just Léo and myself. But we resolved to continue and record our second CD, for which we'd already selected all the tracks and prepared the musical arrangements. So we invited Di to turn himself into a Roitman. He hesitated, fearing a financial drain (unfortunately, the work still doesn't produce income), but ended up accepting.

Brazzil—Did you have an easier time in the studio with the second disc?

Felipe Trotta—The recording was a big party. We invited the best musicians of Rio to participate, and they all came and contributed to making a mature, elaborate disc with a good technical level from all points of view. It's a work of which we're very proud and for which we feel a lot of love. The CD was launched at the end of 1998 by Rob Digital, a label that puts an emphasis on high quality and in which it is a pleasure to participate.

Léo TomassiniCoisa da Antiga is, in my opinion, our true launch in the music market. The maturing we've undergone is almost unbelievable. This second disc manages to inaugurate the most important value in all our work: the search for a new sound for samba. The tracks "Coração da Gente," "Hora do Adeus," and "Habeas Corpus" are the best realizations of our esthetic ideal and are the moments when we're most radical. The principle behind the repertoire selection in this album is almost the opposite of what it had been in the first one. Earlier, we were oriented toward the past, whereas now there's a clear attempt to express the continuity of tradition from the Golden Age to the present. With the exception of "Habeas Corpus," a previously unrecorded song by Noel Rosa & Orestes Barbosa, all the tracks are the creations of modern composers who advance the musical and poetic language of samba.

Brazzil—Describe the sambas of Coisa da Antiga.

Di Lutgrades"Coração da Gente"—This song was recorded by Paulinho da Viola on his 1981 album Paulinho da Viola, a title shared by most of Paulinho's discs. The song talks of the high spirit and informality of rodas de samba [samba circles]; the musical instruments; people arriving and improvising; the day rising... We were fortunate to have the talent of Leandro Braga on piano in this track. His entrance is mesmerizing. Léo says that there should be a plaque in front of Leandro's house, saying, "Beware! Vicious Piano!" The sax quartet Saxofonia added sophistication to the composition (Felipe arranged). Percussion was played by Alisson, son of Trambique, excellent percussionist who played with Beth Carvalho and Ney Matogrosso. On bass, our old friend João Mário.

"Hora do Adeus"—A marvelous partnership between two great composers, both lyricists and melodists, in this previously unrecorded samba. Délcio Carvalho is the most frequent songwriting partner of Dona Ivone Lara, with whom he composed such pearls as "Acreditar" and "Sonho Meu." Elton Medeiros is one of the most respected sambistas around, songwriting partner of Cartola ("O Sol Nascerá"), Zé Keti ("Mascarada"), and Paulinho da Viola ("Recomeçar") and an outstanding matchbox player. "Hora do Adeus" talks of love and separation. Leandro Braga contributed brilliantly again. The arrangement is distinguished by the participation of the vocal group Arranco.

"Cabrochinha"—Another new composition, a jocose samba in the style of Geraldo Pereira. We tried to give this version a bossa nova language: voice, piano, acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, and drums. João Rebouças, a pianist who plays with Chico Buarque and with Gal Costa, honored us with his presence. We didn't even know him; we called and said that we were his fans and would like him to participate in the disc. He agreed on the spot—a great guy. The music is by the superb guitarist Maurício Carrilho and the lyrics by Paulo César Pinheiro.

"Habeas Corpus"—João Máximo, the music critic and author of Noel Rosa's biography, knew a former guitar student of Noel's who had several unrecorded songs by his illustrious teacher. One day João (who's our fan) said there was one song in that bunch that was just right for us and asked if we wanted to record it. You can guess our response. This song is a partnership between Noel and Orestes Barbosa, composer (with Sílvio Caldas) of the masterpiece "Chão de Estrelas." "Habeas Corpus" describes romantic disillusion in legalistic terms. Felipe's arrangement for two guitars is a tribute to the instrument most intimately tied to the history of samba since the days of Noel.

"A Cabeça"—This song was never recorded on disc, although it's on the soundtrack of a short film with Nelson Sargento. "A Cabeça" is very well known in the rodas de samba of Rio de Janeiro. Its composer, Paulinho de Castro, is a teacher of Portuguese and the author of several songs that are marvelous but little known. It's a surrealistic story in which the body argues with its own head and reaches the conclusion that the head has always been the bane of its existence. We begin with incidental music from Chico Buarque's "Pelas Tabelas," a song with similar lyrics, although we don't sing them here. Among the guest artists we have Jayme Vignoli of the choro group Água de Moringa on cavaquinho and the vocal group Arranco. The percussionist Alisson plays (among other instruments) his best instrument, repique. Saxofonia plays Felipe's arrangement in the introduction.

"Eu Vivia Isolado do Mundo"—This samba is a partido alto representing the Velhas Guardas of the Escolas de Samba. The composer is Alcides "Malandro Histórico" da Portela, whose real name is Alcides Dias Lopes. The song was first recorded by Candeia and Manacéa, then [under the title "Vivo Isolado do Mundo"] by Zeca Pagodinho in Deixa Clarear and by Vinícius Cantuária in Tucumã. Our version is graced by the bassoon of Juliano Barbosa, whose father, Aírton Barbosa (founding member of Quinteto Villa-Lobos), played it on Cartola's legendary 1976 recording of Candeia's "Preciso me Encontrar," introducing a new instrument to samba. History repeated itself with Família Roitman. Here, too, we have Arranco's chorus, plus Carlos Pontual's bass and Alisson's percussion.

"Falsa Euforia"—An unrecorded pearl from the talented pair Walter Alfaiate and Mauro Duarte (the latter was Paulo César Pinheiro's partner in innumerable classics made famous by Clara Nunes). The theme couldn't be anything but lost love—the hallmark of these two, who represent the traditional samba of Botafogo. The instrumental novelty here is my use of a moringa for the percussion, substituting it for a ganzá in the high notes and for a surdo in the low notes. João Mário joins on acoustic bass.

"Corrente"—This samba by Chico Buarque hides an ingenious surprise: during the first round the song has one meaning, and when it comes around the second time, the meaning is totally different, although the lyrics remain the same. In the first round, the person singing is submissive to the rules imposed on him, while in the second he's completely opposed to them. The first recording was made by Chico himself on the 1976 LP Meus Caros Amigos. Joining us in our version are João Rebouças on piano and João Mário on bass.

"A Europa Curvou-se Ante o Brasil"—An atonal samba proves yet again that samba knows no borders. Its authors are avant-garde composer Arrigo Barnabé, Carlos Rennó, and Bozo Barretti, who played keyboards with the rock group Capital Inicial. Arrigo recorded the song with Paulinho da Viola's participation on his LP Tubarões Voadores. Cristóvão Bastos enhances our version with his unmistakable piano playing, and João Mário is on bass.

"Caminho da Existência"—During a celebration of Carlos Cachaça's 90th birthday, several of the master's poems were presented, including an autobiographical one that prompted Délcio Carvalho to say, "This marvel needs music, and I'll provide it." That's how this gem was born. First to record it was Délcio in his excellent CD Afinal. In our recording, Cristóvão Bastos tailored the music in a way that makes him soloist as well as accompanist. The string quartet was created especially for this recording and consists of Maurício Takeda of Jazz Sinfônica de São Paulo; Fábio Almeida, who was one of the members of David Chew's Cello Ensemble; and Rubia Mara Siqueira & André Cunha, both from UNI-RIO. Felipe Trotta arranged.

"Mastruço e Catuaba"—This song is full of carioca irreverence and good humor. It's already been recorded in the CD Aldir Blanc 50 Anos by Aldir, Walter Alfaiate, Wilson Moreira & Nei Lopes. In our version the chorus is sung by Arranco, Jayme Vignoli plays cavaquinho, Alisson is on pandeiro, and I play tumbadora to give the flavor of a partido de terreiro [samba as it is performed in the morro].

"Coisa da Antiga"—The title song is one of the most elaborate partidos in Brazilian music. This is our tribute to Clara Nunes and Clementina de Jesus (both recorded it), who were and still are two queens and great influences. Again we have Saxofonia's and Arranco's expert participation. Here, too, I used tumbadoras, this time with agogô, augmenting the feel of samba de terreiro. The authors, Wilson Moreira and Nei Lopes, need no introduction, as they are the composers of so many great sambas recorded by a long list of artists.

Brazzil—How do you maintain the resolve to continue on your path in the current market atmosphere, where most music of artistic value is considered 'difficult' and gets no radio play or media support?

Felipe Trotta—Musical genres with small market share (or those that could potentially have a larger public but are not part of the music industry's scheme) are having a harder and harder time and paying less and less. Nevertheless, there is a public that doesn't identify itself with the mass genres. This public, which is not small, is eager for new and different music. It's clear that there's a new generation of high-quality artists looking for space in this restrictive media. In samba, we can cite ourselves, Arranco, Marcos Sacramento, Dorina, Osvaldo Pereira, and many, many others who, little by little, will occupy their own spaces and conquer their own public. The problem is that this 'little by little' requires that artists have conditions for survival and the financial wherewithal to invest in their own work as long as they can't make a living from it. This is why Brazilian music is losing many good people along the way.

Família Roitman's Discography

Discs may be purchased online directly from the labels.

O Samba nas Regras da Arte (CD; 1994/1995)

Buda Musique, France 82915-2  

Dubas Música, Brazil M450999463-2  


01. Voltei a Cantar (Lamartine Babo)

02. A Voz do Morro (Zé Keti)

03. O Que Será de Mim (Ismael Silva/Nilton Bastos/Francisco Alves)

04. Fui Louco (Noel Rosa/Bide)

05. Boogie-Woogie na Favela (Denis Brean)

06. Se a Orgia se Acabar (Roberto Roberti/Arlindo Marques Jr.)

07. Comprimido (Paulinho da Viola)

08. Clever Boy Samba (Caetano Veloso)

09. Recenseamento (Assis Valente)

10. Ai Quem Me Dera (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Marino Pinto)

11. Moreninha da Praia (João de Barro /Alberto Ribeiro)

12. Só Vou de Mulher (Luis Reis/Haroldo Barbosa)

13. Nem É Bom Falar (Ismael Silva/Nilton Bastos)

14. Quem Dá Mais (Noel Rosa)

15. Se Você Jurar (Ismael Silva/Nilton Bastos/Francisco Alves)

Léo Tomassini: voice

André Weller: piano

Felipe Trotta: guitar

Felipe Decourt: drums, pandeiro

Special participations: Paulinho da Viola; Wilson Moreira; Clara Sandroni; Bruno Migliari (contrabass); Jayme Vignoli (tenor guitar, cavaquinho); Rui Alvim (clarinet, bass clarinet); Daniela Spielmann (soprano sax); Alexandre Galdi (alto sax); Cláudio Rocha (alto sax).

Produced & arranged by Família Roitman.

Coisa da Antiga (CD; 1998)

Rob Digital RD 014  


01. Coração da Gente (Paulinho da Viola)

02. Hora do Adeus (Elton Medeiros/Délcio Carvalho)

03. Cabrochinha (Maurício Carrilho/Paulo César Pinheiro)

04. Habeas Corpus (Noel Rosa/Orestes Barbosa)

05. A Cabeça (Paulinho de Castro)

06. Eu Vivia Isolado do Mundo (Alcídes da Portela)

07. Falsa Euforia (Mauro Duarte/Walter Alfaiate)

08. Corrente (Chico Buarque)

09. A Europa Curvou-se Ante o Brasil (Arrigo Barnabé/Carlos Rennó/Bozo Barretti)

10. Caminho da Existência (Délcio Carvalho/Carlos Cachaça)

11. Mastruço e Catuaba (Cláudio Cartier/Aldir Blanc)

12. Coisa da Antiga (Wilson Moreira/Nei Lopes)

Léo Tomassini: voice

Felipe Trotta: guitar

Di Lutgardes: drums & percussion

Special participations: Arranco (Rita Peixoto, Eveline Hecker, Soraya Ravenle, Muri Costa & Paulo Malaguti); Saxofonia (Idriss Boudrioua & Renato Buscacio, alto sax; Daniel Garcia, tenor sax; Sueli, baritone sax); Leandro Braga (piano); João Rebouças (piano); Jayme Vignoli (cavaquinho); Juliano Barbosa (bassoon); João Mário Macedo (bass); Carlos Pontual (bass); Trambiquinho (percussion); String Quartet (Maurício Takeda & André Cunha, violins; Rúbia Mara Siqueira, viola; Fábio Almeida, cello).

Produced & arranged by Família Roitman.

Família Roitman's Songs

Falsa Euforia

(Mauro Duarte/Walter Alfaiate)

Onde está toda aquela euforia
Era falsa eu sabia
Era tudo ilusão
É costume em questão de amores
No princípio tudo
ser flores
Pra enganar o coração
Onde está o amor que você
Colocar junto ao meu
Hoje estou sozinho
Triste, sem carinho,
já viu

Onde está a felicidade
Fiquei na saudade
do prometido
Como não tenho que andar tristonho
Se não a vejo nem em sonho
Pois há muito eu não
tenho dormido

False Euphoria
(Translation: Felipe Trotta)

Where is all that euphoria
It was false, I knew
It was all illusion
It's usual in love matters
For everything at the start
to be flowers
To betray the heart
Where is the love you have
To put next to mine?
It died
Today I'm alone
Sad, with no tenderness,
as expected

Where is happiness?
I remained longing
for the promised
How can I not be sad
If I don't see her even in dreams
Because I've not been sleeping
for a long time


Eu Vivia Isolado do Mundo
(Alcides da Portela)

Eu vivia isolado do mundo
Quando eu era vagabundo
Sem ter um amor
Hoje em dia eu me regenerei
Sou um chefe de família
Da mulher que eu amei

Linda, linda, linda, linda
Linda como um querubim
É formosa, cheirosa e vaidosa
A rosa no meu jardim
Se tu fores na Portela
Gente humilde e gente pobre
Que traz um samba na veia
Um samba de gente nobre

Mas ela não sabe
Não sabe, cumpadre o que perdeu
Um amor sincero e puro
De um escuro, igual ao meu
Se ela soubesse que o peito
Padece numa solidão
Não me negava seus beijos
E me dava o seu perdão

I Used to Live Alone in the World
(Translation: Felipe Trotta)

I used to live alone in the world
When I was a vagabond
Without love
These days I'm regenerated
I'm head of the family
Of the woman I loved

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful as a cherub
She is shapely, fragrant, and vain
The rose of my garden
If you went to Portela
Humble people, poor people
Who carry the samba in their veins
Samba of noble people

But she doesn't know
Doesn't know, friend, what she lost
The sincere and pure love
Of a dark man, equal to mine
If she knew that the heart
Suffers in solitude
She wouldn't deny me her kisses
And would give me her forgiveness

Mastruço e Catuaba
(Claudio Cartieri/Aldir Blanc)

Veio a comadre bater no
portão lá de casa
Pra contar que meu compadre
nem começou, já acaba...
Esse cara precisa de um chá
De mastruço e catuaba.
Disse que faz uns seis meses
Que o "fuque-fuque" anda ruço:
Esse cara precisa de um chá
De catuaba e mastruço.

Veio a comadre...

O Miguel chegou da Espanha
Pra abrir restaurante, boate e boteco.
Era louco por vedete,
Mas na hora H não armava o boneco.
Suava, perdia os sentidos
Y voltaba a si sin saber donde estaba:
Taí mais um caso pro chá
De mastruço e catuaba.

Veio a comadre...

Um moço tão delicado
Que longe de mim comentar
que era paca.
Voltou da lua-de-mel
Babando a gravata esticado na maca.
Disse que se constrangera
Que a noiva era mais cabeluda
que um urso
Esse nem com muito chá
De catuaba e mastruço.

Veio a comadre...

Entrevistaram o cacique,
Famoso guerreiro Tatutacuntara,
Índio que além de peitudo,
Também possuía vergonha na cara.
Tem bem mais de 30 filhos,
É o tacape maior
que se viu lá na taba.
Graças a Tupã e ao chá
De mastruço e catuaba.

Veio a comadre...

Mastruço and Catuaba1
(Translation: Felipe Trotta)

My neighbor came and
knocked on the door
To say that her husband,
no sooner begun, he is done
This chap needs a tea
Of mastruço and catuaba
She said it's been six months
Since the hanky-panky's gone off
This chap needs a tea
Of catuaba and mastruço

My neighbor came...

Miguel came from Spain
To open a restaurant, club and bar
He was crazy about showgirls
But at the zero hour failed to erect his pile
He sweated and lost his senses
And came to not knowing where he was2
There's another case
for mastruço and catuaba tea

My neighbor came...

A guy so delicate,
Far from me to call
him paca3
Returned from his honeymoon
Drooling on his tie, laid on a stretcher
He said he felt constrained
'Cause the bride was hairier
than a bear
This one, not even with gallons
Of catuaba and mastruço tea...

My neighbor came...

They interviewed a chief,
The famous warrior Tatutacuntara
An Indian not only brave
but decent
He has well over thirty children
And the biggest club
that's been seen in that village
Thanks to Tupã4 and the tea
of mastruço and catuaba

My neighbor came...

1. Medicinal plants with aphrodisiac properties. Mastruço (mastruz) is Wormseed Goosefoot, an annual herb of the species Lepidium sativum. Catuaba is made from the bark and roots of a small Amazonian tree (Anemopoegma mirandum).
2. The original line is in Spanish.
3. Paca: a rabbit-sized rodent; slang for gay.
4. Tupã: a Brazilian Indian God.


Habeas Corpus
(Noel Rosa/Orestes Barbosa)

No tribunal da minha consciência
O teu crime não tem apelação
Debalde tu alegas inocência
Mas não terás minha absolvição

Os autos do processo da agonia
Que me causaste em troca
ao bem que fiz
Correram lá naquela pretoria
Na qual o coração foi o juiz

Tu tens as agravantes
da surpresa
E também as da premeditação
Mas na minh'alma tu não ficas presa
Por que o teu caso, é caso de expulsão

Tu vais ser deportada do meu peito
Por que teu crime encheu-me de pavor
Talvez o habeas corpus da saudade
Consinta o teu regresso ao meu amor

Habeas Corpus
(Translation: Felipe Trotta)

In the tribunal of my conscience
Your crime has no appeal
In vain you plead innocence
But you won't have my acquittal

The writs of the agony suit
You've caused me in exchange
for the good I've done you
Have been presented at the court
In which the heart was the judge

You perpetrate the aggravations
of surprise
As well as of premeditation
But in my soul you won't be arrested
For your case is one of expulsion

You'll be deported from my heart
For your crime filled me with fear
Perhaps the habeas corpus of longing
Will consent to have you return to my 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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