João Gilberto – “João Valentão” (Dorival Caymmi) and “Chão de Estrelas” (Orestes Barbosa and Silvio Caldas)

 

“João Valentão” by Dorival Caymmi (1945)

João Valentão é brigão// João Valentão is a tough
De dar bofetão// He throws blows
Não presta atenção e nem pensa na vida// He doesn’t pay attention and doesn’t even contemplate life
A todo João intimida// He intimidates every João
Faz coisas que até Deus duvida// He does things even God can’t believe
Mas tem seu momento na vida// But he has his moment in life…

É quando o sol vai quebrando lá pro fim do mundo pra noite chegar// It’s when the sun goes breaking over the end of the world, for night to arrive
É quando se ouve mais forte o ronco das ondas na beira do mar// It’s when the roar of the waves can be heard more loudly at the edge of the sea
É quando o cansaço da lida, da vida, obriga João se sentar// It’s when the weariness of the struggle, of life, forces João to sit down
É quando a morena se encolhe, se chega pro lado querendo agradar// It’s when the morena curls up, comes to his side, wishing to please
Se a noite é de lua a vontade é de contar mentiras, de se espreguiçar// If the night is moonlit, the urge is to tell fibs, to stretch out
Deitar na areia da praia que acaba onde a vista não pode alcançar// Lie down on the sand on the beach that ends beyond where the eye can see
E assim adormece esse homem que nunca precisa dormir pra sonhar// And that’s how this man falls asleep, who never needs to sleep to dream
Porque não há sonho mais lindo do que sua terra não há// Because there is no dream more beautiful than his land, there’s none

“Chão de Estrelas” by Orestes Barbosa and Silvio Caldas (1937)

Minha vida era um palco iluminado// My life was a lighted stage
Eu vivia vestido de dourado// I was always dressed in gold
Palhaço das perdidas ilusões// Clown of lost illusions
Cheio dos guizos falsos de alegria// Full of the phony bells of joy
Andei cantando minha fantasia// I went around singing my fantasy
Entre as palmas febris dos corações// Among the feverish palms* of hearts

Meu barracão lá no morro do Salgueiro// My shack, on Salgueiro Hill
Tinha o cantar alegre de um viveiro// Had the cheerful song of an aviary
Foste a sonoridade que acabou// You were the sonority that ended
E hoje quando do sol a claridade //And today, when the sun’s rays
Forra meu barracão, sinto saudade// Stream into my shack, I feel saudade
Da mulher, pomba rola, que voou// For the woman, dove that flew away

Nossas roupas comuns dependuradas// Our modest clothes hanging
Na corda, qual bandeiras agitadas// Out on the line, like waving flags
Parecia um estranho festival// Appeared an exotic festival
Festa dos nossos trapos coloridos// A party of our colored rags
A mostrar que nos morros mal vestidos// Showing that on the poorly dressed hillsides
É sempre feriado nacional// It’s always a national holiday

A porta do barraco era sem trinco// The shack’s door had no latch
Mas a lua furando o nosso zinco// But the moon, boring through our tin
Salpicava de estrelas nosso chão// Peppered our floor with stars
E tu pisavas nos astros, distraída// And you stepped on the stars, absent-minded
Sem saber que a ventura dessa vida// Unaware that the fortune of this life
É a cabrocha, o luar, e o violão// Is the cabrocha, the moonlight and the guitar

— Commentary–

 

Última Hora, Missão 2858-59
João Gilberto’s debut at Copacabana Palace, 1959. Photo via Arquivo Publico do Estado de São Paulo. 
Jornal Aqui Sao Paulo;
João Gilberto. Photo via Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo.

It would be hard to find a foreign lover of Brazilian music whose life wasn’t fundamentally changed by João Gilberto, who died yesterday, July 6, at age 88.  I remember listening over and over to a playlist put together by the fantastic Zuim Podcast in 2011 for Gilberto’s 80th birthday. I was living in New York at the time and the songs — which still bring to mind memories of runs in Prospect Park and drab days at a midtown office — helped inspire this blog, which I started a few months later, and my move to Brazil. They included several from this 1958 recording from the casa de Chico Pereira, linked above. Especially beautiful to me was “João Valentão,” to this day, thanks to that recording, maybe my favorite Brazilian song — or at least one of the first that would come to mind if I had to answer that impossible question. It was one of the first songs I translated for the blog back in 2011. Here it is reprised with João Gilberto singing, along with “Chão de Estrelas” (which also has its own post from 2012), which follows “João Valentão” on the album. Over the next few weeks I hope to get time to translate more João Gilberto recordings on here; for now, here are two of my favorites.

 

*The first verse of “Chão de Estrelas” ends with “among the feverish palms of hearts.” In Portuguese, the literal translation for “clap” in English is “to beat palms.” Orestes Barbosa played with this phrase, referring to beating hearts as “palms of hearts.”

Mascarada/ Minhas Madrugadas/ Injúria/ Recado/ O Sol Nascerá (A Sorrir)/ Jurar com Lagrimas/ Rosa de Ouro

Lyrics from “Mascarada” by Zé Kéti and Élton Medeiros (1964)


Vejo agora esse teu lindo olhar/ I see your beautiful gaze
Olhar que eu sonhei/ A sight I dreamed of
E sonhei conquistar/ And dreamed of winning over
E que num dia afinal conquistei, enfim/ And that in the end one day I won over at last Findou-se o carnaval/ Carnival ended
E só nos carnavais/ And only during Carnivals
Encontrava-me sem/ I’d find myself unable
Encontrar este teu lindo olhar, porque/ To find your beautiful gaze, because
O poeta era eu/ I was the poet
Cujas rimas eram compostas/ Whose rhymes were composed
Na esperança de que/ Of the hope that
Tirasses essa máscara/ You’d remove that mask
Que sempre me fez mal/ That always caused me pain
Mal que findou só/ Pain that ended only
Depois do carnaval/ After Carnival

Lyrics from “Minhas Madrugadas” (Paulinho da Viola/ Candeia, 1965)

Vou pelas minhas madrugadas a cantar/ I go along through my late nights, singing
Esquecer o que passou/ To forget all that happened
Trago a face marcada/ I show wear and tear
Cada ruga no meu rosto/ Every wrinkle on my face
Simboliza um desgosto/ Represents a hardship

Quero encontrar em vão o que perdi/ I want to find in vain what I lost
Só resta saudade/ Only saudade remains
Não tenho paz/ I have no peace
E a mocidade/ And my youth
Que não volta mais/ That will never return

Quantos lábios beijei/ How many lips I kissed
Quantas mãos afaguei/ How many hands I caressed
Só restou saudade no meu coração/ Only saudade is left in my heart
Hoje fitando o espelho/ Looking in the mirror today
Eu vi meus olhos vermelhos/ I saw my bloodshot eyes
Compreendi que a vida/ And understood that the life
Que eu vivi foi ilusão/ I lived was an illusion

Lyrics from “Injúria” by Élton Medeiros and Cartola

Pois é/ That’s right
Tudo começou assim/ That’s how it all started
Alguém se vingou em mim/ Someone took revenge on me
Inventando o que eu não pratiquei/ Making up something I hadn’t done
Pois é/ That’s right
Só deus sabe o quanto amei/ Only god knows how much I loved
Por te amar tanto chorei/ For loving you how I cried
E chorando levo a coisa até o fim/ And crying I take the thing to its end
Não sei como foste acreditar/ I don’t know how you came to believe
Em mentira tão vulgar/ In such a vulgar lie
De um sujeito tão vulgar também/ From such a vulgar guy what’s more
Sofri a maior decepção/ I’ve suffered the greatest disillusion
Tentarei te esquecer/ I’ll try to forget you
Pois te amar foi ilusão/ Because loving you was an illusion
Não sei porque foste derrubar/ I don’t know why you went and knocked down
O castelo que eu fiz/ The castle I built
Em meu castelo era tão feliz/ In my castle I was (or you were) so happy


Lyrics from “Recado” by Paulinho da Viola and Casquinha (1965)

Leva um recado/Take a note
A quem me deu tanto dissabor/ To the one who caused me such bitterness
Diz que eu vivo bem melhor assim/ Say that I live much better like this
E que no passado fui um sofredor/ And that in the past I was a wretch
E agora já não sou/ And now I’m not anymore
O que passou, passou/ The past is the past
E agora já não sou/ And now I’m not anymore
O que passou, passou/ The past is the past
{bis}

Vai dizer à minha ex-amada/ Go and tell my ex-love
Que é feliz meu coração/ That my heart is happy
Mas que nas minhas madrugadas/ But that in my late nights
Eu não esqueço dela, não/ I haven’t forgotten her
Leva um recado!/ Take a note


Lyrics from “O Sol Nascerá (A Sorrir)” by Cartola and Élton Medeiros (1963)

A sorrir/ Smiling
Eu pretendo levar a vida/ I intend to lead my life
Pois chorando/ Because crying
Eu vi a mocidade/ I saw my boyhood
Perdida/ Lost

Finda a tempestade/ Once the storm’s over
O sol nascerá/ The sun will come out
Finda esta saudade/ Once this saudade is over
Hei de ter outro alguém para amar/ I’ll find someone else to love


Lyrics from “Jurar Com Lágrimas” by Paulinho da Viola (1965)

Jurar com lágrimas/ Swearing with tears
Que me ama/ That you love me
Não adianta nada/ Won’t get you anywhere
Eu não vou acreditar/ I won’t believe it
É melhor nos separar/ It’s better for us to split up

Não pode haver felicidade/ There can’t be bliss
Se não há sinceridade/ If there’s no sincerity
Dentro do nosso lar/ In our home
Se aquele amor não morreu/ If that love hasn’t died
Não precisa me enganar/ You don’t need to try to fool me
Que seu coração é meu/ That your heart is mine


Lyrics from “Rosa de Ouro” by Paulinho da Viola, Élton Medeiros and Hermínio Bello de Carvalho (1965)

Ela tem uma rosa de ouro nos cabelos/ She has a golden rose in her hair
E outras mais tão graciosas;/ And others too so lovely
Ela tem outras rosas que são os meus desvelos/ She has other roses that are my devotion
E seu olhar faz de mim um cravo ciumento/ And her gaze turns me into a jealous thorn
Em seu jardim de rosas/ In her garden of roses
Rosa de ouro, que tesouro/ Golden rose, what a treasure
Ter essa rosa plantada em meu peito!/ To have this rose planted in my heart
Rosa de ouro, que tesouro/ Golden rose, what a treasure
Ter essa rosa plantada no fundo do peito!…/ To have this rose planted deep in my heart…

 

— Commentary —

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Paulinho da Viola and Élton MedeirosPhoto via Instituto Moreira Salles.

I translated all of these together because they’re all recorded as a single medley track on the album Samba na Madrugada (1966). In April 1966, just before leaving for the First Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal, Paulinho da Viola and Élton Medeiros hurriedly recorded the albumwhich became an enduring samba classic.  (It was supposed to be called Na Madrugada, but the record company misprinted the name, and it stuck.)

According to Élton Medeiros, in an interview recorded in 1985 for the General Archive of the City of Rio de Janeiro, he and Paulinho recorded the album in a single night on the eve of their trip to Africa, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Medeiros laughed as he recalled the other musicians joking that “Benil [Santos, the album’s producer] thinks you’re going to die on that plane,” because Santos was in such a rush to record everything before they left.

Medeiros said that by the middle of the night he was exhausted, and the album included moments of him falling asleep, including at the beginning of the first song in this ‘potpourri,’ or medley, “Mascarada.” He said he could be heard nodding off as the song began but that they were in too much of a rush to do a retake.

In 1968, the renowned music critic Luiz Carlos Maciel wrote in the Rio daily Correio da Manhã that the album transmitted a “pleasant spontaneity,” with performances offering the “freshness of improvisation”; Medeiros’s description of the recording session helps to explain that vibe. Maciel praised Samba na Madrugada as a model samba album, beginning, “O samba carioca has its traditions. And almost all of them can be found on this LP by Paulinho da Viola and Élton Medeiros.” He wrote that the collection of sambas revealed “roots on the morro” — the favela — “but a trunk nurtured by the asphalt,” or more refined city below.

Medeiros recalled that he and Paulinho were in a bit of a fight at the time with Zé Kéti, with whom they had been performing and recording as A Voz do Morro since they all began to frequent Cartola’s restaurant Zicartola together in 1964. So they abandoned A Voz do Morro and decided, upon Benil Santos’s urging, to record an album on their own.

The trombonist on the album is Raul de Barros, who also traveled with the Brazilian delegation to the festival in Senegal. Élton Medeiros played trombone as a teenager, and had always been a vocal admirer of the instrument. He stopped playing when the friend whose trombone he had borrowed asked for it back; after that, he said he went into a botequim and bought a matchbox — a cheaper and more portable instrument. He can be heard playing matchbox on this recording.

A couple notes on the other songs here: “Recado” was the first samba Paulinho da Viola played when he went in late 1964 to Portela Samba School. When the composers there asked him to show them one of his compositions, he played the first part of “Recado” twice and recalls that Casquinha jumped in with the second part on the spot.

Cartola and Élton Medeiros also composed “O Sol Nascerá (A Sorrir)” on the spot when challenged to compose a samba one night at the house on Rua das Andradas that prefigured Zicartola.

Main source for this post:  Élton Medeiros depoimento para o Projeto Memória Músical Carioca, Arquivo Geral da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro, 4 July 1985.

“Na Pavuna” – “Lataria” – “Eu vou pra Vila”

“Na Pavuna” by Almirante and Homero Dornelas (pseudonym “Candoca da Anunciação”), released by Bando de Tangarás, January 1930

__

Na Pavuna // In Pavuna
Na Pavuna // In Pavuna
Tem um samba // There’s a samba
Que só dá gente “reiúna” // Thronged with troopers*

O malandro que só canta com harmonia // The malandro that only sings with harmony
Quando está metido em samba de arrelia // When he’s in the midst of the fervent samba
Faz batuque assim // Beats like so
No seu tamborim // On his tamborim
Com o seu time, enfezando o batedor // With his team, riling up the beater
E grita a negrada: // And the black folk yell
Vem pra batucada // “Come to the batucada!” 
Que de samba, na Pavuna, tem doutor // Cause in Pavuna we have Doctors of Samba

Na Pavuna…

Na Pavuna, tem escola para o samba // In Pavuna, there’s a school for samba
Quem não passa pela escola, não é bamba // Anyone who doesn’t pass through it’s  no bamba (virtuoso of samba)
Na Pavuna, tem // In Pavuna there’s
Canjerê também // Canjerê too
Tem macumba, tem mandinga e candomblé // There’s macumba, mandinga and candomblé [all four of these refer to Afro-Brazilian religious or spiritual rituals]
Gente da Pavuna // People from Pavuna
Só nasce turuna // Are all born brutes
É por isso que lá não nasce “mulhé” // That’s why no pansies are born out there


“Lataria” by Almirante, João de Barro (Braguinha) & Noel Rosa, released by Bando de Tangarás, January 1931

__

Conversation
Almirante: Como é, pessoá, vamos fazer uma batucada? // What you say, fellas, let’s make a batucada?
João de Barro: Vambora. Mas cadê pandeiro? // Let’s do it. But where’s the pandeiro?
Eduardo Souto: Pandeiro nada! Lata véia tá aí à beça // Forget the pandeiro! We have plenty of old cans.
João de Barro: Isso mesmo. Vamos fazê um batuque de lata véia! // Alright! Let’s have a batuque with old cans!
All: Vambora! // It’s on!

Lyrics
Já que não temos pandeiro // Since we don’t have a pandeiro
Pra fazer nossa batucada // To play our batucada
Todo mundo vai batendo // Everyone’s beating
Na lata velha e toda enferrujada // On an old rusty can

Almirante:
Pra poder formar no samba // To be able to join in the samba
Para entrar na batucada // To be part of the batucada
Fabriquei o meu pandeiro // I produced my pandeiro
Com lata de goiabada. // From a can of goiabada

Noel Rosa:
Sai do meio do brinquedo, // Get out of the middle of the game
Não se meta, dona Irene, // Keep away, Dona Irene
Porque fiz o meu pandeiro // Cause I made my pandeiro
De lata de querosene // From a can of kerosine

Alvinho:
Ando bem desinfetado, // I’m well disinfected these days
Só porque, minha menina // Just because, my gal,
O meu tamborim foi feito // My tamborim was made
De lata de creolina // From a can of creolin

João de Barro:
Escuta bem, minha gente // Listen here, folk
Repara bem pelo som // Pay close attention to the sound
E depois vocês me digam // And then tell me
Se meu instrumento [um penico] é bom // If my instrument [a bedpan] is good


“Eu Vou Pra Vila” by Noel Rosa, released by Bando de Tangarás, January 1931

Não tenho medo de bamba // I’m not afraid of bambas 
Na roda de samba // In the roda de samba
Eu sou bacharel // I’m a diplomate
(Sou bacharel) // I’m a diplomate
Andando pela batucada // Drifting through the batucada
Onde eu vi gente levada // Where I saw spirited folks
Foi lá em Vila Isabel… // Was out in Vila Isabel

Na Pavuna tem turuna // In Pavuna, you’ve got brutes
Na Gamboa gente boa // In Gamboa, good people
Eu vou pra Vila // I’m going to the Vila
Aonde o samba é da coroa // Where the samba’s fit for royalty
Já saí de Piedade // I left Piedade
Já mudei de Cascadura // I moved away from Cascadura
Eu vou pra Vila // I’m on my way to the Vila
Pois quem é bom não se mistura // Cause noble folk don’t intermingle

Quando eu me formei no samba // When I graduated in samba
Recebi uma medalha // I received a medal
Eu vou pra Vila // I’m going out to the Vila
Pro samba do chapéu de palha. // For samba on a straw hat
A polícia em toda a zona // The police throughout the region
Proibiu a batucada // Banned the batucada
Eu vou pra Vila // I’m going out to the Vila
Onde a polícia é camarada // Where the police are pals


Commentary


Bando De Tangarás.jpg

 

InstrumentsFirst a few notes about the translation: As far as I’ve been able to find out, gente ‘reiuna’ was slang at the time for soldiers of the military police, “reuina” being the boot that they wore.  So the fact that the samba in Pavuna fills up with “gente reiuna” isn’t a good thing.

Bamba is a common word in Brazilian Portuguese to refer to “virtuosos of samba,” and is believed to derive from the Kimbundu word mbamba: preeminence. Batucada, which appears throughout these songs, refers to the act of drumming, and the word batuque was used in both Portuguese colonial Africa and Brazil to refer, often derogatorily, to African drumming and accompanying dances. In the 1930s, beginning with the 1930 hit “Na Pavuna,”  and “Já Andei” (Pixinguinha, João da Bahiana and Donga, 1932), batucada took on new meaning, referring to this style of samba, which incorporated the percussion instruments typical of Rio’s nascent samba schools (some pictured left).

Recording technicians in Rio’s studios — a German, in the case of “Na Pavuna” — were dubious of these instruments, believing their sounds wouldn’t transfer well to wax and would just muddy up the recording. “Na Pavuna” proved this notion unfounded, and thus paved the way for the professionalization of percussionists as recording artists in Rio de Janeiro, including tremendous talents like João da Baiana, Alcebíades Barcelos, Armando Marçal, Raul Marques, Ministro da Cuíca, and others.

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In this note in Rio’s Gazeta de Notícias from Tuesday, 4 February 1930, the author joyfully describes a group of pre-Carnaval revelers gathered around his home, one of whom handed him an envelope with the lyrics from the samba “Na Pavuna” by “Candoca da Anunciação” (Homero Dornelas’s pseudonym)
almirante-589x376
Almirante (Henrique Foréis Domingues, 1908 – 1980) was a fundamental figure to 20th century Brazilian popular music: a composer and singer of resounding success, and a researcher and collector of items of immeasurable value to the memory of Brazilian popular music during a time when scant attention was paid to preservation and documentation of  popular music.

And actually, according to the Bando de Tangarás’s front man, Almirante, one of the reasons the group decided to record “Na Pavuna” was because they thought it would work well with these percussion instruments in the studio, an experiment they’d been hoping to try out. Almirante recalled that their friend Homero Dornelas invited the group to his house in Vila Isabel to hear the samba he’d composed, which he beat out for them on the piano (he was a cellist); in spite of Homero’s graceless piano playing, the Tangarás saw potential in the song. Almirante composed the verses for the second part, and they brought it to record at Odeon/Parlophon.

Funnily enough, Parlophon, against Almirante’s wishes, released “Na Pavuna” not as a samba but as a “Choro de rua de Carnaval” (Carnaval street choro), demonstrating how arbitrary genre classification was at the time.

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Lyrics for “Na Pavuna” published in Diário Carioca – 21 January 1930

“Na Pavuna” is the first example of a recorded reference to a “school for samba.” And just as it pioneered the use of surdos, omelê, tamborim, cuícas (friction drum) and reco-recos in the recording studio, “Na Pavuna” also inspired a series of sambas about neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. Shortly after the release of the wildly popular song, Jota Machado released “Na Gamboa,” which began in a nearly identical fashion: “Na Gamboa, Na Gamboa / Tem macumba que só entra gente boa” [In Gamboa, in Gamboa, there’s a macumba where only good people get in] and J. Rezende’s samba for the Carnaval society Clube Tenentes do Diabo that year, “Canja de bode,” began “No bairro de Catumby/ Tem cigana de pagode” [In the neighborhood of Catumby/ There’re pagode gypsies], and went on to mention Largo do Machado and Leblon. Other examples include “Em Deodoro” (Mário Paulo, 1934), and “Isso Não Se Atura,” by Assis Valente, released by Carmen Miranda in 1934: “Lá em Cascadura/ isso não se atura.”

And in turn, Noel Rosa composed “Eu vou pra Vila,” his tribute to Vila Isabel, making reference in the lyrics to both “Na Pavuna” and “Na Gamboa.”

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Jornal do Brasil, 20 March 1928 – Conjunto Flor do Tempo announced as entertainment for a benefit party for the Pavilhão dos Tuberculosos organized by the União de Senhoras do Hospital Evengelico.

Almirante remarked years later that he was surprised when Noel presented the samba to him, saying he’d underestimated Noel’s ability to compose.  Noel was just starting out in his short but inimitable musical career, and played a largely background role with Bando de Tangarás. He was the last member to join the band:

History of Bando de Tangarás
 In 1928, Braguinha (Carlos Alberto Ferreira Braga, alternatively known by his pseudonym João de Barro) and his talented classmates Henrique Brito and Álvaro “Alvinho” de Miranda Ribeiro had organized with several other students from Tijuca’s Colégio Batista as the Conjunto Flor do Tempo. One day Braguinha invited Almirante –so nicknamed from his time as a Navy reservist — to their rehearsal. Braguinha had been impressed by Almirante’s musical prowess when he’d seen him in Carnaval blocos, and at the rehearsal Almirante showed off his clear superiority on pandeiro (as he recalled, their pandeirista had no rhythm) and his powerful voice, with a vast repertoire of songs. They snatched him up and he quickly took on a role as leader.

When the group received an invitation for a recording audition with Odeon/Parlophon, Almirante suggested sending only their four top talents — himself, Braguinha, Alvinho and Brito — to have a better chance at commercial success.  But they still wanted another stringed instrument, so they invited their shy young guitar-playing neighbor in Vila Isabel, Noel Rosa, whom Almirante had first met in 1923.

Since they’d changed the group’s make-up, they decided to change the name. Braguinha, enchanted by a tale he’d heard of Tangarás birds gathering in circles of five to dance and sing in the Brazilian rainforest, suggested they call themselves Bando de Tangarás. He also  suggested they each take the name of a bird, but only his stuck: João de Barro.

In mid-1929, when Bando de Tangarás recorded their first two songs with Odeon/Parlophon, Noel was a timid boy of just nineteen. Many in his milieu looked askance at his hobnobbing with the malandros of Vila Isabel, and Almirante, two years his elder, was decidedly the leader of the pack. These elements might help explain why Noel’s tremendous talent as a composer was initially overlooked, and Bando de Tangarás only recorded the first of Noel’s compositions, “Eu vou pra Vila,” in August 1930, over a year after their first recording.  That song has endured as one of Noel’s greatest tributes to his neighborhood and his relationship with his city.

“Lataria”: In their biography of Noel Rosa, João Máximo and Carlos Didier relate that shortly after recording “Na Pavuna,” Almirante and Braguinha found themselves on the streetcar from Vila Isabel to Rua Almirante Barroso wondering what to record on side B of Braguinha’s “Mulata.” They began to joke around about recording on whatever cans they found upon arriving downtown, and composed a refrain on the streetcar, using the melody from the first samba Almirante had composed, several years earlier: Já que não temos pandeiro / para fazer nossa batucada / todo mundo vai batendo / na lata velha e toda enferrujada. They’d give each member of Bando de Tangarás a can to bang on and sing a verse about. Pleased with their plan, the pair presented it to Eduardo Souto, artistic director of Casa Edison, who was so delighted that he joined in on the recording.

The musicians improvised the verses in the studio, with the help of Noel, one of Brazilian music’s greatest improvisers.  Only Henrique Brito was left off, since, according to Almirante, he couldn’t stop laughing when it was his turn to record, and ruined several takes of the song. And they were all really playing on the cans they mentioned; João de Barro, in his verse, left to the imagination the detail that he was playing on a bedpan.

Not surprisingly, considering its relatively well-heeled make-up, Bando de Tangarás was an important agent for samba, nudging Rio’s middle-class toward embracing the genre. The decision to bring percussionists onto the the recording of “Na Pavuna” was crucial in strengthening ties between the Tangarás and sambistas from Rio’s morros. In the following years, Noel Rosa earned his lasting reputation as one of the most important figures in uniting “morro and asphalt” in 1930s Rio de Janeiro.

The Bando de Tangarás recorded together for the last time in May 1933. Between 1929 and 1933 they appear on 38 albums, 73 tracks, most of which were composed by Almirante. Here’s a short video that shows the rising stars, beginning around minute 7:00:

 

 Sources for this post: Noel Rosa, uma biografia by João Máximo and Carlos Didier; No Tempo de Almirante: uma história do Radio e da MPB by Sérgio Cabral; Yes, nós temos Braguinha by Jairo Severiano; Dicionário da História Social do Samba by Nei Lopes and Luiz Antonio Simas; and conversations with Jairo Severiano.