Luiz Gonzaga (1912-1989) was the great pioneer of forro music, a northeastern style that prominently features the accordion and catchy, tripletime melodies. Gonzaga's recordings progressed from its hyperactive 1940's roots into an increasingly subtle, melodic style. His accordion work was always catchy; as time went on the vocals and production style became ever more smooth and appealing. If you can find them, his RCA recordings from the 1950s and '60s are quite nice. Gonzaga's son, Luiz Gonzaga Jr, or Gonzaguinha, was a well-known composer in the 1970's MPB scene.
Luiz Gonzaga "Canta Seus Sucessos Com Zedantas" (BMG, 1955)
Luiz Gonzaga "Aboios E Vaquejadas" (RCA, 1956)
Luiz Gonzaga "O Rei No Do Baiao" (RCA, 1957)
Luiz Gonzaga "Sao Joao Na Roca" (RCA, 1958)
Luiz Gonzaga "Xamego" (RCA, 1958) *
Luiz Gonzaga "Luiz 'Lua' Gonzaga" (BMG, 1961)
One of his mellower and more accessible albums. Not exactly what I'd call "poppy," but easier on the ears than a lot of his more rugged forro albums. Worth picking up, if you want to ease into his sound a little bit.
Luiz Gonzaga "O Veio Macho" (BMG, 1962)
A little sleepy and indifferently produced; not bad, but it has the feel of a dispassionate studio crew at work. Then again, if you wanted to hear some forro that wasn't all hyperactive sounding, this might be a good album to check out.
Luiz Gonzaga "Sao Joao Na Roca" (BMG, 1962)
Luiz Gonzaga "Pisa No Pilao (Festa Do Milho)" (BMG, 1963)
Luiz Gonzaga "Sanfona Do Povo" (BMG, 1964) *
Apparently this album was recorded twice - once in 1958 and then again in 1964.
Luiz Gonzaga "A Triste Partida" (BMG, 1964)
A sweet-sounding, surprisingly accessible album, where deeper grooves take over from the manic rhythms that originally defined the forro sound. If you've heard and enjoyed Gilberto Gil's forro explorations of the 1970s and '90s, then you might like this disc as well.
Luiz Gonzaga "Quadrilhas E Marchinhas Juninas" (BMG Ariola, 1965)
Some wonderfully melodic material, including a long instrumental medley which shows off Gonzaga's improvisational chops. This is followed by a couple of consecutive march instrumentals which drag the album down to a near-halt, but livelier, warmer vocal numbers revive the listener's interest. Fun stuff, though admittedly a bit repetitious.
Luiz Gonzaga "Oia Eu Aqui De Novo" (BMG, 1967) *
Luiz Gonzaga "O Sanfoneiro Do Povo De Deus" (RCA, 1967) *
Includes a Bob Nelson song(!)
Luiz Gonzaga "Sao Joao Do Araripe" (RCA, 1968) *
Luiz Gonzaga "Canaa" (RCA, 1969)
Folks who are used to hearing Gonzaga in rawer, more rambunctious form may be surprised by this outing, which is a much mellower version of his forro style. This can be explained in part by the inclusion of several compositions by his son, Luiz Gonzaga, Jr (aka Gonzaguinha), who was on his way to becoming one of Brazil's slushiest MPB pop balladeers. A few tunes by Humberto Teixeira help balance things out.
Luiz Gonzaga "Sertao '70" (RCA, 1970)
Luiz Gonzaga "O Canto Jovem De Luiz Gonzaga" (RCA, 1971)
This disc is notable for its shift into modern, tropicalia-era material, with Gonzaga covering material by Edu Lobo, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Geraldo Vandre, among others. The favor went both ways, since the tropicalistas -- Gil in particular -- helped boost Gonzaga's popularity by including forro material into their live shows and albums.
Luiz Gonzaga "Aquilo Bom" (RCA, 1972)
Luiz Gonzaga "Sao Joao Quente" (RCA Camden, 1972)
Luiz Gonzaga "Luiz Gonzaga" (Odeon, 1973)
Luiz Gonzaga "Sangue Nordestino" (Odeon, 1973)
Luiz Gonzaga "A Nova Jerusalem" (Odeon, 1973)
Luiz Gonzaga "Capim Novo" (RCA, 1976)
Luiz Gonzaga "Cha Cutuba" (RCA, 1977)
Luiz Gonzaga & Carmelia Alves "Ao Vivo No Seis E Meia" (RCA, 1977)
Luiz Gonzaga "Dengo Maior" (RCA Camden, 1978)
Luiz Gonzaga "Eu E Meu Pai" (BMG, 1979) *
Luiz Gonzaga "Quadrilhas E Marchinhas v. 2: Virre Que Tem Forro" (RCA, 1979)
Luiz Gonzaga "O Homem Na Terra" (BMG, 1980)
Luiz Gonzaga "A Festa" (RCA, 1981)
Luiz Gonzaga & Gonzaguinha "A Vida Do Viajante" (EMI-Odeon, 1982)
A live double-LP release, featuring father and son cruising through a mix of both their compositions. The slick Gonzaguinha-style production dominates the first part of this album, then gradually gives way to the more relaxed, down-home feel of Pop Gonzaga's baiao and forro oldies. It really starts to get good when the audience starts to sing along, although that only happens towards the very end. Although Gonzaguinha's material largely leaves me cold, this disc is a nice document of the bridge between old and new, and leaves you feeling kind of warm and fuzzy at the end. Re-released on CD as A Viagem De Gonzagao E Gonzaguinha.
Luiz Gonzaga "Eterno Cantador" (RCA, 1982)
Luiz Gonzaga "O Rei Volta Pra Casa" (RCA, 1982) *
The title track, featuring a guest appearance by Quinteto Violado, is joined by two long medley pieces, one of which features an appearance by Gonzaguinha...
Luiz Gonzaga "70 Anos De Sanfonia E Simpatia" (RCA, 1983)
Luiz Gonzaga "Danado De Bom" (RCA Camden, 1984)
Luiz Gonzaga & Raimundo Fagner "Gonzagao & Fagner" (RCA, 1984)
The pairing of Northeastern 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!
Luiz Gonzaga "Sanfonia Macho" (RCA Camden, 1985)
Luiz Gonzaga "Forro De Cabo A Rabo" (RCA Camden, 1986)
Luiz Gonzaga "De Fia Pavi" (RCA, 1987)
Luiz Gonzaga "ABC Do Sertao - Gonzagao & Fagner 2" (BMG-Ariola, 1988)
Luiz Gonzaga "Ai Tem Gonzagao" (BMG-Ariola, 1988)
Luiz Gonzaga "Vou Te Matar De Cheiro" (Copacabana, 1989)
Luiz Gonzaga "Aquarela Nordestina" (Copacabana, 1989)
Luiz Gonzaga "Ao Vivo - Volta Pra Curtir" (BMG, 2001)
Unreleased live material originally recorded in 1972.
Luiz Gonzaga "Eta Cabra Danado De Bom" (Revivendo, 1998)
Collecting early works by one of the founders of the northeastern "forro" style, this disc includes archival recordings from 1941-1946, made as he was developing the irresistable melodies and infectious rhythm of the style. Gonzaga is still tinkering with the form; at this point it still sounds like a cross between hyperactive polkas and Mexican ranchera music. This particular CD might be better for its historical value rather than as entertainment. Many of the tracks on here are instrumentals, and after a while start to sound a lot alike, and it does not include either of his pivotal hits, "Baiao," or "Asa Branca." Fascinating, but monochromatic.
Luiz Gonzaga "Sanfona Dourada" (Revivendo)
Luiz Gonzaga "Veronica" (Revivendo)
Luiz Gonzaga "No Meu Pe De Serra" (Revivendo)
Luiz Gonzaga "Xodo" (Revivendo)
Luiz Gonzaga "Meus Sucesos Com Humberto Teixeira" (RCA/Camden, 1968)
A wonderful collection of songs written in collaboration with songwriter Humberto Teixeira. Plenty of vocals and super-catchy accordion melodies.
Luiz Gonzaga & Gonzaguinha "Juntos" (BMG, 1999)
Luiz Gonzaga "Sua Sanfona E Sua Simpatia" (BMG, 1998) *
Luiz Gonzaga "Forro Do Comeco Ao Fim" (BMG, 1998)
Luiz Gonzaga "Focus: O Essential De Luiz Gonzaga" (BMG, 1999)
Luiz Gonzaga "O Nordesto Na Voz De Luiz Gonzaga" (BMG, 1999)
Luiz Gonzaga "Raizes Nordestinas" (EMI, 1999)
Luiz Gonzaga "Sabido" (Iris Musique, 2000)
Luiz Gonzaga "Volta Pra Curir" (BMG, 2001)
Gilberto Gil "Eu, Tu, Eles" (Soundtrack) (Warner, 2000)
A gorgeous album which is drenched in Northeastern forro and includes a half dozen fluid, modern interpretations of old Luiz Gonzaga tunes, and several tracks featuring master accordionist Dominguinhos. For the life of me, I couldn't tell when all of these songs were really recorded -- I know some of the Dominguinhos tracks are from Gil's mid-'70s Refazenda era, but I suspect this is a mix of new and old material. At any rate, this is one of the most pleasant Gilberto Gil albums you're likely to hear, and a fascinating example of how Gil's acoustic musings can mix beautifully with the occasionally nerve-jangling forro style. Highly recommended!!
Dominguinhos (& Convidados) "Cantam Luiz Gonzaga, v.1" (Velas-Brasil, 1997)
A nice, if somewhat moderately-paced tribute to forro founder Luiz Gonzaga. Guest performers include Gilberto Gil, Daniela Mercury, Joao Bosco and Djavan, as well as lesser-known folks, like Nando Cordel and Marines... It's a pleasant album, but as I mentioned, a bit on the plush side, perhaps reconciling the frantic pace of forro with the more languid, glossy pop ethos of the Velas label. Pretty sweet overall, though.
Dominguinhos (& Convidados) "Cantam Luiz Gonzaga, v.2" (Velas-Brasil, 1999)
Quinteto Violado "Canta Luiz Gonzaga" (Atracao, 2002)
Various Artists "BAIAO DE VIRAMUNDO" (YBrazil/Stern's, 2000)
Cool! A weird, modernized take on the forro tradition, featuring only a few well-known artists (such as Nana Vasconcelos and Nacao Zumbi), along with a slew of Brazil's most creative electronica artists. The typical accordion-and-triangle sound of forro is stripped apart and slathered with skittery jungle, ambient dub and techno riffs, rendering it all but unrecognizable. The results are weird, challenging and delightful. The only one of these artists I've heard of before is Otto -- all these other young'uns are a revelation. Definitely worth your attention!
Various Artists "O DOUTOR DO BAIAO: HUMBERTO TEXEIRA" (Biscoito Fino, 2003)
A splendid live tribute to composer Humberto Texeira, one of the great founders of modern Northeastern pop... Texeira's legacy tends to be overshadowed by his connection to Luiz Gonzaga, but this fine concert album brings his work to the foreground, with rich, heartfelt renditions of his classic baiao compositions from the middle the 20th Century. It's an all-star cast, packed with MPB royalty: Maria Bethania, Chico Buarque, Gal Costa and Gilberto Gil on call for the '70s old guard, Lenine and Rita Ribeiro representing the younger generation, Elba Ramalho and Fagner as Texeira's nordestinho stylistic stepchildren. High marks go to Caetano Veloso for his soft, piercing rendition of "Baiao De Dois," although one of the most surprising artists on here is alt-rocker Lenine, who gives a similarly gentle, exploratory performance. This entire album is quite nice, actually, highlighting the fun, playful, bouncy aspects of Texeira's work, while liberating it from the manic, hyperactive feel of the original, old-school baiao recordings of the 1940s and '50s. This disc does for Texeira's legacy what the BAIAO DE VIRAMUNDO collection did for Gonzaga in 2000: it shows the elasticity and enduring appeal of these gloriously catchy old pop tunes. Recommended!
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