Brazilian Music Digest
Is it possible to summarize a century of Brazilian music in one hundred recordings? After reading André Domingues’s enjoyable book Os 100 Melhores CDs da MPB (The 100 Best CDs in Brazilian Music), you might just think that is what you have in your hands.
André Domingues (São Paulo, 1976) graduated from the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in the state of São Paulo with a degree in philosophy. His passion for Brazilian music has been a part of his life since age 14, though. He has worked as a music critic and journalist for Alltv as well as some dailies (Jornal da Tarde, Diário do Comércio) and Brazilian magazines (Raça Brasil, Cultura DO). A Brazilian music historian teacher, Domingues took upon himself the hard task to challenge a group of music specialists to come up with a hundred of Brazil’s best CDs. The task appears to be presumptuous, one might argue. Wouldn’t such a book be nothing but a working list from a small group of critics? That is arguable, but the method Domingues used to present those hundred titles set his book apart from other similar attempts. Besides Domingues himself, the panel that selected these works was comprised of the following names: Arley Pereira (journalist, music critic), Carlos Rennó (composer, journalist, music critic), Éder Sandoli (composer, arranger, instrumentalist), Hílton Valente (composer, arranger, instrumentalist, Brazilian music history professor at UNICAMP), Luiz Melodia (singer, songwriter), Maria Alvim (singer, voice specialist), Rui Moraes (journalist, MPB specialist), Théo de Barros (singer, songwriter, arranger, instrumentalist) and Victor Martins (songwriter). As one can see, the panelists are just as varied as the titles chosen.
The first thing that calls the reader’s attention is the book’s first section covering the top 10 most voted CDs (see side bar). This preliminary list is presented in alphabetical order by CD title, which is also the same approach used for the rest of the book. It is interesting to note the absence of works dating prior to the late 1950’s. Though O Mito was released in 1990, it actually includes João Gilberto’s first album, Chega de Saudade, from 1959. That is the oldest recording included in that top 10 list. In any event, such a list does raise questions about the absence of works released in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The list does include historical albums — Clube da Esquina, Rosa de Ouro, Chega de Saudade and Tropicália — all marking important musical movements in Brazilian music: Minas Geraes composers (the Clube da Esquina), traditional samba re-emergence, Bossa Nova and Tropicália, respectively. It is obvious that no matter what the choices might have been, readers and critics would always find missing titles. This is, after all, the panelists’ personal choices. However, do not be fooled by this top 10 list. The book itself does include some compilations that cover earlier periods in Brazilian music.
A second feature in the book — and here is where it goes beyond a top 100 list and reviews — is that there are rich side notes providing valuable information about artists cited as well as musical genres. For example, in writing about Paulinho da Viola’s Bebadosamba, Domingues not only reviews that work, but he also adds side notes about maxixe, samba-canção, partido-alto and samba-de-quadra. In another example, Rosa Passos’ Curare, we also find side notes about Brazilian music festivals, Ary Barroso, Carlos Lyra and Bororó. And in yet another, César Camargo Mariano & Hélio Delmiro’s Samambaia, we learn more about Marlene, Dóris Monteiro, Luiz Eça and choro. The reviews are all insightful and enjoyable, making this easy reading and clearly not forgetting the rich content the book presents.
For someone not very familiar with Brazilian music, Os 100 Melhores CDs da MPB does provide a wealth of information and possible shopping list. The book is also a good companion for collectors who would like more information about a certain album and how it fits within the scope and history of Brazilian music.
Os 100 Melhores CDs da MPB
Sá Editora (2004)
Top 10 CDs:
Titles listed in chronological order.
- 2 em 1: Rosa de Ouro – Aracy Côrtes, Clementina de Jesus & Conjunto Rosa de Ouro (1965/1967)
- Tropicália ou Panis et Circencis – Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Nara Leão, Tom Zé & Os Mutantes (1968)
- Clube da Esquina – Mílton Nascimento & Lô Borges (1972)
- Elis & Tom – Elis Regina & Tom Jobim (1974)
- Cartola – Cartola (1976)
- Urubu – Tom Jobim (1976)
- O Grande Circo Místico – Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque & others (1983)
- O Mito – João Gilberto (1990)
- Paratodos – Chico Buarque (1993)
- Bebadosamba – Paulinho da Viola (1996)