The Art of Improvisation
After his 2005 Quarteto, Conrado Paulino now graces us with a brand new album of solo guitar work. The album also differs from his previous work in the solid repertoire chosen. With an excellent selection covering some of Brazil’s most significant songwriters and a couple of U.S. standards, Wrong Way is everything one would expect from the hands of such an expert guitarist as Conrado.
Although the listener has no distraction from Conrado’s “fine and sophisticated” guitar work (those are Marco Pereira’s words), Conrado does invite very few guests to share some of the performances in this charming release. Aside from Alexandre Ribeiro’s clarinet solo featured in “Só Danço Samba,” all other guests are percussion performers. Beto Angerosa, João Marcondes, Celso de Almeida, Dinho Gonçalves and Ari Colares add a solid and discreet presence with surdo, cuíca, pandeiro, conga, bongô, cowbell and much more in four of the 14 tracks. Speaking of those, the last two are bonus tracks: “Samba da Minha Terra” was previously recorded in Quarteto, whereas “Vamos, Vamos” has never been previously released.
So, what makes this album different from other guitar solo recordings? In one word: creativity! As Conrado explains in the liner notes, some of the songs performed in Wrong Way have nearly defined arrangements (4 tracks), that is, a beginning, middle and end. Others are a little improvisational (6 tracks) and the remainder are totally improvised (4 tracks). Improvisation here means that the main theme and solos were all created in the studio at the very time of recording. The tracks in that category are “A Saudade Mata a Gente,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “All the Things You Are” and “Vamos, Vamos.” For example, as Conrado explains, “A Saudade Mata a Gente” was not in the original plans for an improvised arrangement, but after recording “Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai,” he decided to replay “A Saudade Mata a Gente” in the improvised rendition that we hear in the album. That vision pays off quite well. The meaning of “saudade” is matched in the pensive and recitative way Conrado plays that João de Barro classic. Beautiful! Of the two non-Brazilian tracks, “All the Things You Are” lends itself to a nice soft and jazzy feel with restrained swing.
The tracks with defined arrangements are “Isaura,” “Manhã de Carnaval,” “Todo Sentimento,” and “Luz do Sol.” These titles don’t need any embellishment other than Conrado’s sensitive approach to their renditions. I especially like the subtle flamenco touches Conrado adds here and there in “Manhã de Carnaval.”
Finally, the happy medium between defined and improvised arrangements come in the following tracks: “Olha para o Céu,” “Dindi,” “Feitio de Oração,” “Só Danço Samba,” “Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai” and “Samba da Minha Terra.” Coincidentally, five of those tracks are the ones with the guest musicians. In this set only “Dindi” features Conrado on guitar alone. Whether in duo, trio or quartet formation, the other five tracks are also beautifully arranged and performed. The right amount of percussion only adds to these arrangements. In “Olhando para o Céu,” cuíca and surdo are as intimate as couples in love. For “Feitio de Oração,” the wire brushes Celso de Almeida adds go very well with the woodblock. Yet another great combination is presented in “Só Danço Samba” with the coupling of Alexandre Ribeiro’s fine clarinet accompaniment and João Marcondes’ pandeiro and ganzá base. And what would be Ivan Lins’ “Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai” without a good dose claves and congas? We have them all.
Conrado Paulino got it absolutely right in Wrong Way. His guitar skills deserve all the shining moments that this release provides. For more information about the album and artist and to listen to the tracks in Wrong Way, please visit Conrado Paulino on the web.
Enjoy Conrado Paulino’s performance of the classic “Manhã de Carnaval.”
Tratore WW1 (2010)
- Isaura (Herivelto Martins – Roberto Roberti)
- Olha para o Céu (Tom Jobim)
- Dindi (Tom Jobim – Aluísio de Oliveira)
- A Saudade Mata a Gente (João de Barro)
- Feitio de Oração (Noel Rosa – Vadico)
- Manhã de Carnaval (Luiz Bonfá – Antonio Maria)
- Todo Sentimento (Cristóvão Bastos – Chico Buarque)
- Só Danço Samba (Tom Jobim – Vinícius de Moraes)
- Luz do Sol (Caetano Veloso)
- Don’t Blame Me (Dorothy Fields – Jimmy McHugh)
- Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai, Ai (Ivan Lins – Vitor Martins)
- All the Things You Are (Oscar Hammerstein – Jerome Kern)BONUS TRACKS
- Samba da Minha Terra (Dorival Caymmi)
- Vamos, Vamos (Public Domain)