Top Hat Sambas
Not many composers in Brazilian music are so intrinsically associated with Samba and its history as is Angenor de Oliveira, or Cartola (October 11, 1908 – November 30, 1980). Not only was he responsible for creating one of Brazil’s most famous Samba Schools, the Mangueira, but he was also the composer of legendary hits such as “Acontece,” “O Mundo É Um Moinho” and “As Rosas Não Falam” among several others. Revered by popular and erudite composers such as Nelson Cavaquinho, Paulinho da Viola and Heitor Villa-Lobos, Cartola is undeniably one of Brazil’s greatest songwriters. He stands side by side with Tom Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, Ary Barroso, Pixinguinha, Chico Buarque and Caetano Veloso just to name a few. Cartola’s music comes from the soul, and his verses carry profound and universal themes.
From humble origins in the hills of Rio de Janeiro, Cartola got his name because of the top hat he wore when he used to work as a brick layer, a job he maintained for many years even after becoming famous. In spite of his importance to Brazilian music, Cartola only recorded his first album at age 66, in 1974. When he passed away in 1980, he left a legacy of four albums and numerous songs. Various recordings of his music have been made by some of Brazil’s most well known performers (Gal Costa, Arranco, Beth Carvalho, etc.). However, to capture the sadness and hope in Cartola’s music, there is no one better than Cartola himself.
Tropical Music, through the hands and mind of Claus Schreiner, presents us with a collection of Cartola’s masterpieces. Divino Samba is a 23-song compilation derived from Cartola’s four albums. The title of this essential CD is a homage to the nickname appropriately given to Cartola himself, the Divine Cartola. With some of Cartola’s most famous sambas, Divino Samba includes several songs Cartola wrote with his steady collaborators and friends, Carlos Cachaça and Elton Medeiros. Framing the beauty of Cartola’s songs, several Brazilian superstar musicians accompany the poet in all tracks: Dino 7 Cordas, Canhoto, Altamiro Carrilho, Abel Ferreira, Copinha and special guests Nelson Cavaquinho, Elton Medeiros and Guinga. The lyrics can sometimes present the sadness of broken love affairs, as in “Acontece” and “Peito Vazio,” or the hopes of better days, as in “Alvorada,” “A Canção Que Chegou” and “O Sol Nascerá.”
Divino Samba is a rarity among CD releases. The quality of this recording will impress you in every aspect, from the carefully written liner notes to the sound quality in each track. Above it all, Cartola’s music will astound your senses.
Read more about Divino Samba and hear song samples here.
Tropical Music 68.804 (1999)
All tracks by Cartola, except where noted.
- Silêncio de um Cipreste (Cartola – Carlos Cachaça)
- As Rosas Não Falam
- Tempos Idos (Cartola – Carlos Cachaça)
- O Inverno do Meu Tempo (Cartola – Roberto Nascimento)
- Alvorada (Cartola – Carlos Cachaça – Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)
- A Canção Que Chegou (Cartola – Nuno Veloso)
- Peito Vazio (Cartola – Élton Medeiros)
- Senões (Cartola – Nuno Veloso)
- Ensaboa Mulata
- O Sol Nascerá
- Verde Que Te Quero Rosa (Cartola – Dalmo Castelo)
- Feriado na Roça
- Disfarça e Chora (Cartola – Dalmo Castelo)
- Cordas de Aço
- Quem Me Vê Sorrindo (Cartola – Carlos Cachaça)
- Evite Meu Amor
- Sei Chorar
- A Mesma História (Cartola – Élton Medeiros)
- O Mundo É um Moinho
- Pranto de Poeta (Guilherme de Brito – Nelson Cavaquinho)
A modified version of this review first appeared in Luna Kafé, July 1999.