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Walter Wanderley portrait
Walter Wanderley (1932-1986) -- A Brazilian keyboard player/organist whose '60s albums served up a canny mix of cheesy listening along with authentic Brazilian percussion and melody. Fun stuff, fit for any roller rink in the land, though it can get a little too EZ at times. Here's a quick look at his long career...

Discography- Best-Ofs

Walter Wanderley "Festas Dancantes Vol. 1" (Discobertas, 2012)
This much-welcomed box set gathers four of Wanderley's earliest albums, all long out of print for several decades. Included are: Eu, Voce E Walter Wanderley (1959), Feito sob medida from 1959, Sucessos Dancantes from 1960, and O Sucesso E Samba, also from 1960. Hardcore fans will want to snap this puppy up!

Walter Wanderley "Festas Dancantes Vol. 2" (Discobertas, 2012)
The second box-set in this series collects four more albums: O Samba E Samba Com Walter Wanderley (1961), Samba E Mais Samba com Walter Wanderley (1961), O Bolero E Walter Wanderley (1962), and Samba No Esquema De Walter Wanderley (1963) many of which are reviewed below. Rare material from his Odeon years!

Walter Wanderley "Samba!" (2000)
This disc borrows heavily from the Samba So album, with a few extra tracks thown in for good measure...

Walter Wanderley "Samba Swing" (Scamp, 1996)

Walter Wanderley "Talkin' Verve: Roots Of Acid Jazz" (Verve, 1998)

Walter Wanderley "Boss Of The Bossa Nova" (Motor Music - Germany)
2 CD set.

Walter Wanderley "Pure Bossa Nova" (Verve, 2007)

Discography - Albums

Walter Wanderley "Eu, Voce E Walter Wanderley" (Odeon, 1959)

Walter Wanderley "Feito Sob Medida" (Odeon, 1959)

Walter Wanderley "Sucessos Dancantes" (Odeon, 1960)

Walter Wanderley "O Sucesso E Samba" (Odeon, 1960)

Walter Wanderley "Samba E Samba Com Walter Wanderley" (Odeon, 1962)

Walter Wanderley "O Samba E Mais Samba Com Walter Wanderley" (Odeon, 1961)
(Produced by Ismael Correa)

Goofy, glitzy and utterly irresistible Brazilian muzak. Wanderley's perky, roller-rinky organ work slides comfortably inbetween the persistent, pattering rhythms. Some arrangements are more striking than others, but ont he whole this is a fun little album. Definitely sets the template for his later work -- kitschy, but compelling.

Walter Wanderley "Samba No Esquema" (Odeon, 1961)
(Produced by Lyrio Panicali & Jose Ribamar)

This one's just a little too kitschy and jittery for me to get into... I tried listening several times, and it just didn't grab me. There didn't seem to be much the relaxed, open vibe that makes the best Brazilan music so great -- instead, it was all mile-a-minute, goofball dit-dit-dit organ-riff zippiness. Not my cup of tea.

Walter Wanderley "O Bolero De Walter Wanderley" (Odeon, 1962)

Walter Wanderley "Walter Wanderley's Brazilian Organ" (Capitol, 1962)

Walter Wanderley "Samba So!" (World Pacific)

Walter Santos "Bossa Nova" (Audio Fidelity, 1963) (LP)
The first album from singer Walter Santos, a compatriot of bossa nova's founder, Joao Gilberto. Santos and Gilberto were in the Os Enamorados do Ritmo group together, and here Santos is following Gilberto's lead, singing gentle, whimsical songs with a perky little lilt to them. Like many early bossa enthusiasts, Santos can hardly match the elegance and subtlety of Gilberto's original recordings -- but what he lacks in rhythmic and harmonic nuance, Santos makes up for in pep and good cheer. Of special note here is the accompaniment by organist Walter Wanderley, whose goofy, upbeat sensibility permeates the whole record. All in all, a fine, cheerful album with a nice nostalgic feel.

Walter Wanderley "O Toque Inconfundivel De Walter Wanderley" (Philips, 1964)
Sort of a two-part album: Side One is super-chirpy-perky, classic Wanderley roller-rink music, while Side Two is a bit slower and more doleful. Things pick up a little towards the end, particularly on "Menino Das Laranjas," where guitarist Teophilo de Barros Neto adds some suave vocals. There's also a female singer on "Deixa Isso Pra La," but I'm not sure who she was... Mostly this is pretty blithe and disposable (but also quite fun, if you're in the mood) though there are some cool arrangements on several songs. Wanderley is in his element here, and he's definitely rockin' it on the organ; this includes some of his finest, most nimble playing.

Walter Wanderley & Neyde Fraga "Balancando Com Walter Wanderley" (Philips, 1964)
(Produced by Alfredo Borba)

A fun set from singer Neyde Fraga (whose career spanned back to the early 1950s: anyone know if her pre-LP stuff is available anywhere?) She's backed here by organist Walter Wanderley and a large-ish band that sometimes widens the sound from the normal Wanderley style. Fraga is a very appealing singer, performing here with a lightness, lilt and intimacy that's quite different from her later, brasher big band work on Continental. I suppose that shows her range: in either mode, she sounds great. Wanderley's presence is definitely felt as well; his trademark dit-dit-dit organ riffs thread through all the songs, but mostly he tones it down and plays it cool. Definitely worth checking out.

Walter Wanderley & Portinho "Orgao Sax Sexy" (Philips, 1964)
(Produced by Alfredo Borba)

Funny album title, dreary record. Saxophonist Portinho plays everything super-slow and super-serious; Wanderley dutifully follows his lead. It's a static and monotonous album -- no fun at all, really, which is a big surprise for a Wanderley album of this vintage. Go figure.

Walter Wanderley "Quarteto Bossamba" (Som Maior/World Pacific, 1965)

Walter Wanderley "Brazilian Blend" (Philips)

Walter Wanderley "Organ-ized" (Philips)

Walter Wanderley "Sucessos + Boleros = Walter Wanderley" (Philips, 1966)
Good kitschy fun... If you're into the whole EZ thing, and a Wanderley fan, nothing to complain about with this moest, small-ensemble outing. In this case, the "sucessos" (hits) are of an international variety: Aznavour, Mancini, Sid Tepper's "Red Roses For A Blue Lady," along with non-Brazilian Latin material from Augustin Lara and others, as well as contemporary Brazilian tunes by Erlon Chaves and Marcos Valle... I'm not familiar with Jair Amorim, but there are two of his songs on here, so I assume he was a pal of Wandrerley's at the time. Anyhoo, this is a slower-paced outing, but I'm sure some of you all out there will enjoy it.

Walter Wanderley "Rain Forest" (Verve, 1966)
This is his best-known record, and is one of the definitive '60s easy listening albums. His instrumental version of "Summer Samba" is as easily recognizable and as archetypal as Astrud Gilberto's vocal version (which Wanderley also performed on). Roller rink music with a vengance, which has held up well over the decades...

Walter Wanderley & Astrud Gilberto "A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness" (Verve, 1967)
Wanderley teams up with bossa nova vocalist Astrud Gilberto for this mellow bossa-pop outing. The songs are mainly bossa standards, translated into English and sung with a charmingly awkward flatness by the ever-blase Gilberto. Wanderley's roller-rinky organ toot-tootles along, a little at odds with her delivery, but pleasant and compelling in its own way. Nice for the translated lyrics, and the cheerful summery vibe.

Walter Wanderley "Cheganca" (Verve, 1966)

Walter Wanderley "Batucada" (Verve, 1967)

Walter Wanderley & Luiz Henrique "Popcorn" (Verve, 1967)

Walter Wanderley "Kee-Ka-Roo" (Verve, 1967)

Walter Wanderley "Summer Samba"

Walter Wanderley "From Rio With Love" (Tower/Capitol)
This is a fairly lackluster outing... it's got all the constituent elements, but isn't as imaginative or arresting as some of his other work. Nothing objectionable, other than an overall flatness to the production. Feels like he was just going through the motions, though a few tracks can still grab you...

Walter Wanderley "Murmurio" (Tower/Capitol)
This disc, on the other hand, has some great moments! The title track, "Murmurio," is a lively, innovative stereo landscape, with rich percussion and Wanderley going wild on the keyboard... There are several other standout tracks on here, and overall the album just has a really fun, joyful feel to it. Worth checking out!

Walter Wanderley "When It Was Done" (CTI-A&M, 1968)
Goofy soft pop, recorded in L.A., with co-arrangements by Eumir Deodato. Features sleazied-out versions of songs by a variety of Brazilians, from old-timers such as Dorival Caymmi and Luis Gonzaga to bossa and post-bossa composers such as Jobim, Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque (a pleasant version of "Ole Ola"), as well as a couple of contemporary pop tracks by Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb. Mostly this is pretty so-so (though easy listening diehards would surely disagree!)... Anamaria Valle is a featured vocalist, having just recorded the excellent Samba '68 album with her husband Marcos Valle... Here she performs along with two L.A. singers in an iffy version of the already-iffy Brazilian vocal group, Quarteto Em Cy. A young Milton Nascimento is on hand to sing harmony on one track (presumably on his way to record his first album, which was also made for A&M...)

Walter Wanderley "Moondreams" (CTI-Polydor, 1969)
(Produced by Creed Taylor)

With Eumir Deodato...

Walter Wanderley "Return Of The Original" (Canyon)

Walter Wanderley "Brazil's Greatest Hits" (GNP, 1979)

Walter Wanderley "Perpetual Motion Love" (GNP, 1981) (LP)
Horrifying! Perhaps the ultimate roller-rink easy-listening instrumental album, with tinny, '70s-ish sound beds, and a multi-tracked Wanderley playing both Moog synths and his own trademark doot-doot-doot organ. The small band backing him includes jazz percussionist Alex Acuna. Includes a bunch of dootly-doot versions of Brazilian oldies, as well as American pop songs such as Bill Summers' "Just The Two Of Us." A rare gem if you like the style... but... yikes. So scary.


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