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Paulinho da Viola portrait A masterful singer of sweet samba songs, Paulinho Da Viola is known as a samba purist, adhering strictly to the old acoustic style, and is particularly revered as a revivalist of the instrumental choro style. That being said, I have heard some drekky, pop-tinged albums by him, though for the most part his records are quite wonderful. Although he was of the same generation of the rock-oriented tropicalistas and the swanker, slicker post-bossa nova MPB crowd, Da Viola delved into the more antiquated style of the traditional samba cancao and the sambas de morro, sung by the urban poor of Brazil's sprawling slums. Until recently, Da Viola's older albums have been long out of print; now fans of acoustic samba can celebrate their renewed availability.


Conjunto A Voz Do Morro "Roda De Samba" (Musidisc, 1965)
This exquisite acoustic album was a foundational touchstone for the traditional samba revival of the 1960s, featuring contributions from master sambistas Jair Do Cavaquinho, Elton Medeiros and bandleader Ze Keti, along with newcomer Paulinho Da Viola, who solos on a couple of songs. It's a beautiful album and a great debut for Da Viola, a joyful, stripped-down session, with each artist trading lead vocals from song to song, round-robin style. All the performances, all the songs, all the melodies and choruses are rich with history and finesse: these guys set the bar pretty high for anyone who would follow. Note: Keti apparently wasn't on this album, although he appears on later Voz Do Morro releases -- the record is no less rich and rewarding for his absence, though. A wonderful album, highly recommended.

Conjunto A Voz Do Morro "Roda De Samba v. 2" (Musidisc, 1965)

Conjunto A Voz Do Morro "Roda De Samba v. 3" (RGE, 1966)

Conjunto A Voz Do Morro "Os Sambistas" (RGE, 1966)

Conjunto Rosa De Ouro "Rosa De Ouro v.1" (EMI-Odeon, 1965)
Conjunto Rosa De Ouro "Rosa De Ouro v.2" (EMI-Odeon, 1967)
Conjunto Rosa De Ouro "Raizes Do Samba" (EMI Brasil, 2000)

As part of their excellent "Raizes do Samba" reissue series, EMI has collected both these old albums on one CD. An all-star ensemble including Da Viola, Clementina De Jesus, Elton Medeiros, Jair do Cavaquinho and Nelson Sargento... so how could you go wrong? These acoustic sambas are intensely rhythmic, though light on percussion, and heavy on vocals and guitars. When recorded in the mid-'60s, this music was a deliberate throwback; what's modernized about it is the smoothness of performance and production. Mighty nice stuff.

Paulinho Da Viola & Elton Medeiros "Samba Na Madrugada" (RGE, 1968)
A delightful album, and a landmark of the early acoustic samba renaissance, reuiniting these two sambistas after their trio of fine albums with the Conjunto Rosa De Ouro. Da Viola and Medeiros trade off songs, sing one duet, and take turns singing lead on a longer medley "pot-pourri" track. This is perhaps less distinctive than some of Da Viola's later work, but it's still quite lovely... Highly recommended!

Paulinho Da Viola "Paulinho Da Viola" (EMI-Odeon, 1968)
Emerging as a solo artist, Da Viola is heard here laboring in the shadow of Brazil's bossa-era pop industry... The loungey orchestrations of the Odeon house band (led by the omnipresent Maestro Gaya) at times threaten to overwhelm Da Viola's sweet acoustic sambas, but Paulinho has more than enough oompf and vitality to make sure that doesn't happen. A strong solo debut that has some slightly ackward touches, but is first-rate overall.

Paulinho Da Viola "Foi Um Rio Que Passou Em Minha Vida" (EMI-Odeon, 1970)
Easily one of Da Viola's best and most varied albums, with a deep melodic richness and a nice range of material, ranging from sparser, more old-fashioned acoustic sambas, to more expansively arranged hip-swayers which prefigure the '70s-style pagode of Clara Nunes, Alcione and Beth Carvalho. Almost all the songs were written by Da Viola himself, a powerful testament to his stylistic range. One of my favorite of his albums, and one I would recommend to anyone who wants to check him out. Lovely!

Paulinho Da Viola "Paulinho Da Viola" (EMI-Odeon, 1971)
To call this a "poppy" album might be a bit misleading, though it certainly offers some of Da Viola's most atypical arrangements, with harpsichords, horns and other ornamentation from well outside the standard samba/choro sphere. It's also quite a lovely album, opening with "Num Samba Curto," and includes gems such as "Para Ver As Meninas," a beautiful ballad covered most notably by Marisa Monte, three decades later. A little bit different, but delicious all the way through.

Paulinho Da Viola "Paulinho Da Viola" (EMI-Odeon, 1971)
Another solid album, opening with the Carnaval-esque "Perder E Ganhar," and moving through a solid set of Da Viola originals and well-chosen covers. The arrangements are more standard on this one, though still playful and inventive, with flutes, muted trumpets, strings and other delicate musical voices dancing throughout. Like all his early albums, a gem.

Paulinho Da Viola "A Danca Da Solidao" (EMI-Odeon, 1972)
Another pleasantly diverse album, this time dipping heavily into the soft sounds of samba. Most of the songs are by Da Viola, including a couple co-written with poet Capinan. Also included are tunes by samba heavyweights such as Nelson Sargento, Nelson Cavaquinho and Cartola, and the album closes with Monarco's timeless tribute to the Portela samba school, "Passado De Gloria." Odeon producer Maestro Gaya helped orchstrate a few more ornate numbers, although for the most part this is a pretty light, simple-sounding album. Sweet stuff!

Paulinho Da Viola "Nervos De Aco" (EMI-Odeon, 1973) (LP)

Paulinho Da Viola "Paulinho Da Viola" (EMI-Odeon, 1975)
It's suprising to find that producer Maestro Gaya had a hand in this album, as its sound is fairly sparse and acoustic based, sort of a throwback to Da Viola's days in Conjunto Rosa de Ouro. It's nice, thought a little less varied than some of the albums that preceded it. Still, what a class act. Just for reference, since he has several eponymous records, this one sports a cover showing a slender hand delicately dangling a single green leaf; "E A Vida Continua" is the first song on the album.

Paulinho Da Viola "Memorias Cantando" (EMI-Odeon, 1976)

Paulinho Da Viola "Memorias Chorando" (EMI-Odeon, 1976)

Paulinho Da Viola "Paulinho Da Viola" (EMI-Odeon, 1978)
Another smooth, beautiful Da Viola album... indeed, this is one of his best! Although he dips lightly into poppish MPB arrangements on a couple of tunes, basically this is yet another gorgeous samba/choro set. The album art shows Paulinho building a wooden guitar, presumably luthering is one of his many talents... The liner notes also show who the musicians on the album were, which is nice, since the Copinha's clarinet lines on the loopy "Sarau Para Radames" provides one of the most delectable melodies on any Da Viola recording. The mood is sustained on the tracks that follow... If you're looking for only the best, this album will fill the bill.

Paulinho Da Viola "Zumbido" (EMI-Odeon, 1980)
Beautiful as ever, though a bit on the mellower, MPB-ish side (mostly at the beginning of the disc. Still... it's Paulinho da Viola... the guy can do no wrong, and this is a lovely little album.

Paulinho Da Viola "Paulinho Da Viola" (WEA, 1981)
Paulinho Da Viola "A Toda Hora Rola Uma Estoria" (WEA, 1982)

These two albums have been recently (c. 2000) re-released as a single CD. Nice, light stuff, which straddles syrupiness and class, in fairly equal amounts. Of the two original albums, A Toda Hora... is the lesser; the nice stuff is mostly packed into the first half.

Paulinho Da Viola "Prisma Luminoso" (WEA, 1983)

Paulinho Da Viola "Coracao Leviano" (EMI, 1985)

Paulinho Da Viola "Eu Canto Samba" (BMG Ariola, 1989)
A solid album with several lovely melodic sambas, though also a handful of synth-tinged duds. Take a little good with the bad, I guess. But the good stuff is great!

Paulinho Da Viola "Samba E Choro Negro" (BMG Ariola, 1993)
A beautiful, straightforward collection of melodic, traditional material. The songs are drawn from over many years of his career, but all recorded in '93. Wonderful stuff -- highly recommended!

Paulinho Da Viola "Bebadosamba" (BMG Ariola, 1996)

Paulinho Da Viola "Bebadachama" (BMG Ariola, 1997)
A nice live album, capturing a veteran performer at the top of his game. Nice mellow, masterful acoustic outing, with an appropriately appreciative audience.

Paulinho Da Viola & Toquinho "Sinal Aberto - Gravado Ao Vivo" (BMG, 1999)
A fine live 2-CD live set which unites two of Brazil's classiest acoustic musicians in front of a warmly appreciative audience at Rio De Janeiro's Teatro Joao Caetano. The tracks are evenly split between duet and solo performances, all of which slip by in a honied, melodic haze. Bossa nova acoustic guitar whiz Toquinho makes an excellent foil for Da Viola's wide-ranging acoustic music. The first disc is the sweetest, and glides past smoothly, seeming much shorter than it actually is. The second disc is a little more cluttered and climactic, but still quite nice. A class act -- definitely recommended.

Paulinho Da Viola "Meu Tempo E Hoje" (Soundtrack) (Biscoito Fino, 2003)
Absolutely delightful. A relaxed, informal set that highlights Da Viola in a variety of styles, and also serves as the sondtrack for a documentary film about his life and work. Da Viola's approach is alternately stately and refreshingly offhand, with some songs summoning tremendous elegance and others, like a few tunes with the somewhat rough hewn Velha Guarda Da Portela, that let the rough sides show. Other guests include Zeca Pagodinho, Elton Medeiros and Marisa Monte, who beautifully croons a version of the old Pixinguinha standard, "Carinhoso," an album highlight, but one which in no way overshadows the rest of this fine, fine album. Da Viola remains, indisputably, one of the great masters of Brazilian acoustic music. Another highly recommended album! (For more information, check out this profile of the album on the Biscoito Fino website.)

Paulinho Da Viola "Timoneiro" (BMG, 2003)

Paulinho Da Viola "Acustico MTV" (Sony-BMG, 2008)

Paulinho Da Viola "Acustico MTV" (Sony-BMG, 2008) (DVD)


Paulinho Da Viola "O Talento De Paulinho Da Viola" (EMI/Odeon)
A 25-track collection, covering his early career from 1969 -1979.

Paulinho Da Viola "Especial" (EMI/Odeon)
Covers 1968 to 1978.

Paulinho Da Viola "Mestres Da MPB" (WEA)
More modern stuff, from 1981 to 1983.

Paulinho Da Viola "Grandes Mestres Da MPB - v. 2" (WEA)

Paulinho Da Viola "Geracao Samba" (WEA)
This disc covers 1981 to 1983.

Paulinho Da Viola "Meus Momentos" (EMI, 1999)
A nice, bargain-priced 2-CD set that reissues two earlier volumes with the same title. Graceful, light-hearted acoustic sambas, recorded 1969-1979. Lovely, lovely music from one of the masters -- highly recommended. The original two volumes have recently been combined into this scrumptious twofer, but either version you find this in should make you quite happy.

Paulinho Da Viola "Focus: O Essential De Paulinho Da Viola" (BMG, 1999)

Paulinho Da Viola "Series Raizes Do Samba" (EMI, 1999)

Paulinho Da Viola "Enciclopedia Musical Brasileira" (WEA, 2000)

Paulinho Da Viola "Serie Bis" (EMI, 2000)
A truly stunning 2-CD collection of some of Da Viola's best early work (from 1969-1979)... As with many recent Brazilian reissues, the Bis series has appallingly uninspired packaging, but the music within is a marvel. The instrumentation faultless and compelling -- he'd had a few years under his belt to shape his style -- but equally compelling is the youth in Da Viola's singing; we're so accustomed to thinking of him as a grand old man of the traditionalist scene, that it may be a revelation to hear him still finding his own voice. Great stuff.

Paulinho Da Viola "Eu Sou O Samba" (EMI, 2005)

Paulinho Da Viola "Retratos" (EMI, 2005)

Paulinho Da Viola "Coracao Leviano" (EMI, 2009)


Teresa Cristina & Grupo Semente "Canta Paulinho Da Viola, v.1" (Deckdisc, 2002)
Teresa Cristina e Grupo Semente "Canta Paulinho Da Viola, v.2" (Deckdisc, 2002)

One of Brazil's finest young samba singers of the new millennium, Teresa Cristina has been embraced by the samba old guard, and returns the favor on these two gorgeous tributes to Da Viola's magic. It's kind of nice when records like this live up to the hype... These two albums are some of the purest, sweetest acoustic samba music you'll ever hear, with gorgeous accompaniment on the cavaquinho and bandolim, and clear vocal echoes of Clara Nunes and the young Beth Carvalhlo... Cristina pays dutiful homage to the Portela samba school, and she does Paulinho Da Viola proud as well... Old-timers Elton Medeiros, the Velha Guarda Da Portela, Epoca De Ouro and Paulinho himself all chime in, as well as the flawless Grupo Semente... If you want to hear some of the best Brazilian music out there, snap these puppies up! (Note, they can either be bought as single discs or as a two-pack that might be a bit cheaper. It's worth it.) Highly recommended.

Galo Preto "So Paulinho Da Viola" (Leblon, 1994)

Marcia Taborda "Choros Da Paulinho Da Viola" (Acari, 2001)


  • has a nice biographical essay, as well as sound samples and lyrics for several key songs, and a discography that covers many of his albums... Likewise with the finf website. (In Portuguese.)

  • Clique Music/All Brazilian Music has a fine artist profile and comprehensive discography. (In Portuguese and English.) The site also has a nice article about a recent documentary film about Da Viola's life and work.

  • This Japanese website has nice album-by-album profiles (with track listings, etc), though if you don't have Konji fonts on your computer, the rest of the site may be lost on you...

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