Perhaps Brazil's greatest pre-WWII composer, samba legend Ary Barroso is best known for the international hit, "Aquarela do Brasil," (which is often just called "Brazil"). In the 1920s and '30s, Barroso revamped the Brazilian samba, making it more accessible to international audiences, and was one of Carmen Miranda's favorite songwriters. Although his original recordings are hard to come by these days, there are countless versions of "Brazil" done by artists across the world, and many Brazilian tributes, notably a 1980 album by Gal Costa, and several modern "songbooks" on the Lumiar label.
Colossal. Enthralling. Essential. Legendary figures from the dawn of samba such as Pixinguinha, Noel Rosa, Sinho and Ary Barroso may seem distant and antique, but this excellent French compilation brings their music back with resounding immediacy. Two CDs worth of catchy, classy, crazy, playful creativity with an old-timey, jazzy feel. A lot of this would work well alongside old big band tunes, or Django Rinehardt records. HIGHLY recommended. Also check out the similar "BRESIL: SAMBA" collection.
Barroso himself didn't make that many records, but his songs were widely recorded by the biggest stars of early Brazilian samba cancao... This is one of the best collections available of that old stuff, mainly because it's one of the few records to collect Barroso's stuff by itself, and not as part of an overview of old Brazilian samba. By the time the disc is over, you'll get a sense of his compositional style, and you'll even notice how some of his certain tricks -- mainly the perky yum-tum-tum rhythm of his big hit, "Brasil," got recycled into several other songs... You'll also have been delighted by the fab performances of some of Brazil's best old-school performers, such as Elisa Coelho, Sylvio Caldas, Odette Amaral, and, of course -- always -- the great Carmen Miranda. Nice disc -- highly recommended!
I haven't heard this disc yet, but all the stuff on Revivendo is really great, so I'd guess this is at least comparable to the Harlequin CD listed above. Probably hard to find in the States, but available through the label's website.
Ary Barroso "100 Anos" (EMI, 2004)
A cool 2-CD set that highlights Barroso both as a composer and as a performer. The first disc features fourteen classic, golden age recordings of Barroso's best-known songs, sung by the likes of Francisco Alves, Elizeth Cardoso, Carmen Miranda, Angela Maria, and others. Disc Two spotlights Barroso himself, in rare recordings from the late 1950s and early '60s, and this material is what really makes this collection a must-have for fans of old-school samba-cancao. The first few of these tracks have Barroso backed by a big, goofy-sounding orchestra, a modern band playing his old-fashioned songs with too much pep and not enough emotion, complete with the author, plunking away on the piano, sounding a bit corny himself. Fortunately I like corny music, so I stuck it out long enough to hear the later tracks, which are stripped-down solo pieces, just Barroso and his piano, playing his finest songs, often with short spoken introductions, and occasionally with Barroso singing as well, in his plain, playful voice. And, as is often the case, there's just nothing as gratifying or magical as hearing a composer singing their own work. Barroso displays the same kind of wry, ironic that his contemporaries such as Cole Porter, or Frank Loesser, or Harold Arlen showed with they sang their songs, a sly, winking, easygoing charm... These are relaxed performances that somehow bring out nuances that more elaborate, energetic versions often don't have... It's cool stuff, that definitely gets to the heart of his work. Recommended!
Carmen Miranda "Carmen Miranda: The Brazilian Recordings" (Harlequin, 1993)
Carmen Miranda "Carmen Miranda: 1930-1945" (Harlequin, 1997)
Carmen Miranda "The Lady In The Tutti-Frutti Hat" (Harlequin, 1999)
All three of these CDs are heavy on Barroso material -- not surprising, since Miranda was his best-known interpreter. Classic material from the early 1930s through the mid-'40s... buoyant, perky, irresistible and highly, highly recommended!
Dorival Caymmi & Ary Barroso "Ary Caymmi E Dorival Barroso" (Odeon, 1958)
A delightful and joyous collaboration between two of the earliest (and best) samba cancao composers. Each covers the other's material -- Barroso's piano playing is bouncy and playful; likewise, Caymmi seems envigorated by the project, and less stolid than usual. This is a standout effort for both artists and a real treat for listeners, since Barroso didn't perform that frequently on record, and Caymmi was often much more sedate than this when left to his own devices. This is one of those fortuitously magical albums where two master musicians spur one another on to even greater heights. Recommended!
Gal Costa "Aquarela Do Brasil" (Verve/Polygram, 1980)
A classy (and classic) tribute. In general, it is the smooth ballad which rules here. Gal's voice is sweet and fluid, and the soft-pop arrangements are mostly understated, even on the quartet of disco-flavored samba numbers which bookend the album. Might be too florid for many listeners -- I'm on the fence about this one-- but this is considered one of Costa's best records.
Rosa Passos & Lula Galvao "Letra E Musica: Ary Barroso" (Lumiar, 2002)
Various Artists "ARY BARROSO SONGBOOK v.2" (Lumiar, 1994)
Includes Tim Maia, Os Cariocas, Carlos Lyra, Joao Bosco, Edu Lobo, Tom Jobim, and Leny Andrade.
Various Artists "ARY BARROSO SONGBOOK v.3" (Lumiar, 1994)
Includes Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa & Luiz Brasil, Luiz Melodia, Johnny Alf, Sergio Ricardo, Joao Bosco, Pery Ribeiro, and Beth Carvalho.
Various Artists "NOSSA HOMANAGEM: 100 ANOS, v. 1-3" (Revivendo, 2004)
Various Artists "NOSSA HOMANAGEM: 100 ANOS, v. 4-6" (Revivendo, 2004)
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