This is a listing of miscellaneous albums and artists under the letter "F"
If an artist or album you like is not reviewed here, please feel free
to contact me and make a suggestion.
Fafa - see "De Belem, Fafa"
Raimundo Fagner "Serie XXI" (Sony-Columbia, 2000)
Raimundo Fagner, a pop star from the Northeast of Brazil, is featured in this odd and eclectic best-of... There are plenty of forro rhythms woven into his glitzy, mostly mainstream material. What's weird, though, is how all over the map he was musically -- some of these tracks are drekky pop, others feature goofy scats and semi-jazzy riffs, while a few are even a bit funky. I'm not sure I would recommend anyone rush out and buy this right away, but it's more interesting than I thought it would be -- a bit challenging, even. I'll keep mulling it over, and get back to you sometime.
Raimundo Fagner "Beleza" (CBS, 1979)
(Produced by Raimundo Fagner)
Egad, this is terrible!! The opening track on Side One are sluggish, overly-florid pop-schmaltz disasters, and it never really gets much better from there... Plus, I know that the whiny nasal thing is a defining trait of Northeastern Brazilian music, but even taking that into consideration, Fagner has a rather unlikeable voice. Mostly this is filled with impassioned, emotive vocals, but he also tries a little Milton Nascimento-style ululating on a song on Side Two, as well as a bit of torturous wailing that helps close the album, amid swirling accordions and shrill, meandering violins. Nothing magical here, though -- it feels very leaden and effort-ful. And yucky. Joao Donato plays piano helped with the production of this album, although not with any discernable positive influence; Dino 7 Cordas and Dominguinhos are among the other performers on here...
The pairing of Northeastern forro elder Luiz Gonzaga and the younger rock-pop innovator Raimundo Fagner proves fruitful, as Fagner adds sonic depth to Gonzaga's tried-and-true sound... The pacing is still manic and wild, but the mix has more textures to it, and the two performers are clearly having a lot of fun working together. The best songs on here have a buoyancy and joyfulness that is delightful to hear. Still, it's pretty hardcore forro, and it ain't gonna be for everyone. Definitely worth checking out if you like the genre!
Raimundo Fagner & Luiz Gonzaga "ABC Do Sertao - Gonzagao & Fagner 2" (BMG-Ariola, 1988)
A surprisingly effective, pleasant collaboration between indie-ish rocker Baleiro and Raimundo Fagner, an '80s rock/soft pop star whose work became both proggish and super-wimpy. This gentle, multi-layered album offers a wide variety of tropical styles, from modernized samba-pop to the Hawaiianized mariachi of "Cantor De Bolero," which closes the album. These two really seem to have hit a warm, profoundly sympathetic mutual vibe, where the music flows easily and sounds soulful and accomplished. I hadn't expected a lot from this record when I picked it up, and have been pleasantly surprised and consistently engaged each time I've listened to it. Very nice stuff, definitely recommended!
Fala Mangueira! "Fala Mangueira!" (Odeon, 1968)
A magnificent old-school samba album. It's a little difficult to know just where to file this one... "Fala Mangueira" is actually the album title, but while five of the greatest traditional samba artists of the 1960s and '70s share the stage, as it were, on this disc, they are all performing together, taking turns singing the leads on longer medley tunes. At any rate, if you want to hear Odete Amaral, Nelson Cavaquinho, Cartola, Clementina De Jesus and Carlos Cachaca all busting loose on a nice set of tunes associated with (and about) Cartola's famous samba school, then check this disc out. The arrangements and performances are all first-rate, and this has a really nice, friendly feel. Recommended!
Gentle acoustic pop from a Brazilian expatriate living in France, this has traces of early Joao Bosco, Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque (who Faraco worked with in the 1980s, and who joins him for a duet on the title track)... For a more North American reference point, think -- perhaps -- of early Bruce Cockburn material: soft at the core, but not overly cloying. These bossa-derived ballads are pretty easy on the ears, and while your attention may drift a bit, there's nothing on here that will make you cringe in terror. An artist with a smooth voice and a light touch.
Contemporary samba-soul... Features vocals by future solo star Seu Jorge...
Vital Farias/Elomar/Geraldo Azevedo/Xangai "Cantoria 1" (Kuarup, 1984)
Vital Farias/Elomar/Geraldo Azevedo/Elomar/Xangai "Cantoria 2" (Kuarup, 1988)
Beautiful, relaxed live acoustic recordings by this informal foursome from the Brazilian Northeast... The more upbeat numbers echo Gilberto Gil's acoustic improvisations, while the quieter numbers seem to draw on the Latin American "new song" movement... At any rate, these are gentle, stately performances, and well worth checking out.
Dick Farney - see artist discography
Abel Ferreira "Brasil, Sax E Clarineta" (Discos Marcus Pereira/EMI-Brasil, 1976/2003)
Beautiful, soulful, gently textured readings of old choro tunes written for the saxophone and clarinet, including several songs written by Ferreira himself. An early master of the style, reedman Ferreira brings a richness and sensitivity to these songs that really makes this album stand out... The guitarist called Dino 7 Cordas accompanies him, with contributions by Raul de Barros and Orlando Silveira. Recommended! (Part of EMI's "Serie Choro - Grandes Solistas.")
Manfredo Fest "Prestigo: Manfredo Fest Trio" (RGE, 1994)
This CD combines material from two mid-'60s albums by pianist Manfredo Fest, mostly typical bossa jazz-trio material, with the same full-speed ahead, go-go-go feel that all the Braz-jazz bands of that era seemed to exult in. Interestingly enough, although Fest became known as an artist who played the keyboards in a rhythmic, percussive manner, on these early recordings he actually shows more melodic nuance than many of his contemporaries. It's not great jazz, but Fest did have a subtle feel that was lacking in other pianists of the time. This disc starts off with his medley of "Maria" tunes -- Carlos Lyra's "Maria Ninguem," "Eu Sem Maria" by Dorival Caymmi, Ary Barroso's "Maria," "Sohno De Maria" by Marcos Valle, and others -- the performance is a little clunky, but I bet the concept wowed audiences back in '66... Another highlight is "M.E. Vestido Amarelo," on which Fest doubletracks his recording to add an organ line on top of the piano, and sets a slinky, sinuous tone that's much more relaxed than the rest of the album... If you're looking into vintage Brazilian jazz, this is definitely an album to check out.
His complete 1965 debut LP, with "M.E. Vestido Amarelo" and other, more aggressive jazz performances...
The Fevers - see artist discography
A jittery set of hyperactive rock instrumentals by a trio of musicians who have worked extensively as backup for MPB stars such as Caetano Veloso and the late Cassia Eller. Sort of a discomforting mix between Steve Vai and the Meters, with just a smidge of Brazilianness in the margins. Not my cup of tea.
Celso Fonseca "Minha Cara" (Warner, 1986)
Celso Fonseca "O Som Do Sim" (Natasha, 1993)
Singer-guitarist Celso Fonseca, who has worked with Gilberto Gil, Marisa Monte and others of Brazil's brightest MPB stars, strongly recalls Caetano Veloso's mellower moments. This album, co-produced with songwriter/producer Ronaldo Bastos, is a stripped-down acoustic set which at first feels a little sparse and unsteady, but gains resonance and depth with every repeat listening. As good as any of Fonseca's later efforts, and well worth tracking down. The pronounced stylistic debt to Veloso is a little embarassing, but it still sounds so good, it's hard to get upset about it. Highly recommended.
A more ornate album, with a full band behind Fonseca's gentle vocals. The Veloso comparisons will be abetted by the presence of Caetano's cellist and bandleader, Jaques Morelenbaum, but where Caetano takes his music into arch, artistic directions, Fonseca opts for a mellower, more subdued sound, and includes a strong strain of Miles Davis-style "cool jazz" on several songs. Another great record... the guy can do no wrong, as far as I can tell.
Another lovely album, although it has a 1970s-ish fusion sheen than some may find off-putting. Most of the musicians are lesser-known, younger artists, although Daniel Jobim adds some star power, playing piano on a couple of tracks. This album is quite listenable, although I confess I prefer when Fonseca plays in slightly more stripped-down style. Definitely worth checking out, though, if you're looking for something mellow, classy and new.
Absolutely gorgeous acoustic guitar work, with flawlessly tasteful production and soft bossa vocals, music on a par with Joao Gilberto or Caetano Veloso's softer moments. Fonseca is one of Rio's up-and-coming performers, and here he takes things down several notches, to the quietest, most serene level imaginable. This is a lovely album that will really wow anyone looking for something mellow and moving, yet not saccharine or formulaic. Highly recommended!
Another lovely, acoustic-based nova bossa nova set by Celso Fonseca. On first listen, this new record seemed a bit simple and plain in comparison to the lusher, more densely produced albums he'd recorded earlier with Ronaldo Bastos, but as the disc stayed in my stereo for the better part of a week, it sounded more and more sublime. Recapturing the subtlety and restraint of the original bossa nova movement, Fonseca weaves a spell of beauty and soft, melodic grace. He still sounds quite a bit like Caetano Veloso, but that's really nothing to complain about. This is a record you can listen to time and time again, and which should delight you for years to come. Recommended!
Some of the most antique recordings in this outstanding series of pre-bossa nova "radio singers". Nearly half the tracks on this 2-CD set are from the 1920s, and most of the others are of 'Thirties vintage. Although there's some samba influence, these tracks tilt towards acoustic ballads and romantic interpretations along the lines of Cuba's Antonio Machin and Miguel Matamoros rather than dance tunes. It's a nice slice of old-world Brazilian pop that's unfamiliar to modern ears... nice stuff! Highly recommended!
14 Bis "14 Bis" (EMI, 1979)
I was first introduced to this band via the Serie Bis collection (reviewed below), and thought, jeez, these guys are so godawful, wretchedly bad, I will never, ever, need to think about them ever again. Well, a couple of years later I tracks this album down and bought it at a bargain, and man, was I surprised. It's very atypical of Brazilan rock, a modern album produced at the height of the punk/new wave scenes abroad, with plenty of proggy influences, bringing to mind bands such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, or even some of the more adventurous new wavers who came later in the decade. The Moog synths and high, falsetto-laden harmonies are actually kind of nice, the music is oddly wispy and engaging. I can see why many Brazilians wouldn't like this record, although modern, irony-inclined indie rockers might get a real kick out of it. I would hesitate to call this a "lost classic" or anything as hackneyed as that, but you Death Cab For Cutie fans might want to check this out.
14 Bis "14 Bis II" (EMI, 1980)
14 Bis "Espelho Das Aguas" (EMI, 1981)
Flavio Venturini was the guiding light behind this band, having previously formed the prog-rock outfit, O Terco, with guitarist Vinicius Cantuaria and other forward-looking Brazilian rockers. Turns out 14 Bis were better than their lamentably yucky best-of collections would have us believe... On this disc, their third album, things are starting to sour and the steer towards a flat, generic pop-rock sound, yet it's enjoyable in a tacky, campy kind of way. It's not a great record, but still worth checking out to get a sense of the breadth of New Wave-ish experimentation that was going on at the time.
Ye gods. This may be the single worst, most godawful Brazilian album I have ever heard. I think they were trying to be the Brazilian version of Flock of Seagulls; it would be extremely charitable to compare them favorably to America, Bread or Ah-Ha... if you get my drift. Apparently this band was founded in 1976 by some former members of the '70s prog band, O Terco... This 2-CD set has 28 songs, recorded between 1979-92... and there isn't a single track on here I will ever need to hear again. Next!
A cool instrumental album featuring the eerie and hypnotic sounds of Brazil's unique martial arts form, capoeira dancing. Franco, a solid percussionist with a strong jazz pedigree (who also spent a couple of years in Jorge Ben's band), is the inventor of the double berimbau, which is the main lead instrument on this album. Perhaps a bit more boing boing boing-ing than the average bear is looking for, but nonetheless this is a compelling album, and well worth checking out. Excellent percussion, and a very traditional (non-fusion) sound throughout. Recommended.
Moacyr Franco "Contrastes" (Copacabana, 1962)
Deliriously over-the-top, cornball pop-romantic vocals, mixing some old-fashioned samba-cancao with other Latin dance styles, boleros and just plain kitsch. Lots of surging string arrangements and big, Mario Lanza-esque vocals, as well as some swingin', upbeat cha-cha-cha-ish mambo material, blurring the lines with the chugga-chugga-chugga of old-school samba music. Franco was a pretty competent performer, even if this is probably too antiquated and square-sounding for most modern listeners. Worth checking out, though, if you're into pre-bossa MPB. (Reissued in 2003 on a 2-Em-1 disc, along with the 1963 Moacyr Franco album below.)
Moacyr Franco "Moacyr Franco" (Copacabana, 1963)
Still more corny pop-romantic vocals, with heavy, almost oppressively syrupy string arrangements dominating the first side of the album. On Side Two, however, the album opens up with more stylistic variety, dipping into muscular big band sounds and various frantic novelty-song approaches, including the Mexican harps on "Que Sera De Ti" and the faux-Japanese shrillness of "Kata Ai." It's silly and strained, but kind of fun in a weird way. Mostly this would have to qualify as mere kitsch, but Franco was obviously putting his all into it, so that's gotta count for something...
Fans of Venezuela's Los Amigos Invisibles may find kindred spirits in this Sao Paulo-based funk outfit... Funk Como Le Gusta specializes in horn-heavy groove tunes that are reminiscent of War and Tower of Power back in the day... There are also homegrown touches as on the Tim Maia-styled soul crooning of "Olhos Coloridos" and the cumbia flavored "Funk De Bamba," as well as a dash of ska and axe flavoring. A little smooth for my tastes, but worth checking out. Soul and funk fans will probably love this!
Brazilian Music - Letter "G"
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