A Historical Musical Document
It’s among friends that musicians can express their art in a total relaxed and personal way. There’s no doubt that some of the finest music never travelled further than the discrete walls of a fortunate living room. Unless, of course, if one of the friends was attentive enough to have a tape recorder running. This happened when Brazil’s television pioneer Geraldo Casé (1928-2008) organized one of his famous informal evenings of music at his house, somewhere between 1957 and 1958. Some fine young musicians brightened up the evening with an unpretentious set of music. High quality music, since these youngsters were guitarists Baden Powell (21 years old) and Manuel da Conceição (27), accordionist Chiquinho do Acordeón (29) and star of the evening Dolores Duran (27 years old). The music of that soiree is made available for our listening pleasure for the first time now, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of singer Dolores Duran. Or: how an evening among friends turned out to be a historic musical document.
Dolores Duran was born as Adiléa da Silva Rocha on June 7, 1930 in Saúde, a quarter near the port of Rio de Janeiro. She started to sing almost immediately: at age three she had already discovered the joy of expressing herself musically. Adiléia was only ten when she impressed Ary Barroso with her rendition of the song “Vereda Tropical,” which she sang in both Portuguese and Spanish. It earned her a first prize in his famous radio show, Calouros em Desfile (Freshmen on Parade). Two years later, when her father died, this prize provided the teenager with the opportunity to earn some extra money for her mother and four brothers. When she was 16 she started to use her artistic name Dolores Duran and decided to lie a bit about her age so that she could sing in Rio’s nightclubs. The female crooner earned success with a varied repertoire of evergreens and standards from the Brazilian and American songbooks. Knowing that she had a weak heart, Dolores rushed from one event to another in order not to miss anything. Very early in the morning of October 24th, 1959, Dolores came home from a gig at the Little Club and hanging out with friends in Clube da Aeronáutica. She told the maid she was so tired that she could easily sleep till she died. Ironically enough, Dolores passed away that same morning of a heart attack, probably caused by a combination of stress, alcohol and barbiturates. After her premature death, Dolores’ fame increased drastically.
We hear Dolores Duran during the peak of her career. Dolores and her accompanying musicians go through a wonderful set of music, exposing their unique talents in a nostalgic homy atmosphere. Dolores freely chose the repertoire without the pressure to sing her own hit songs for a greedy audience. We hear five songs from the Great American Songbook. Especially in the opening “How High the Moon,” it’s easy to discover the influence of Ella Fitzgerald in Dolores’s scat singing. The song is followed by the ballad “Cry Me a River,” which she sings in a more Julie London kind of way. It’s fun to hear a certain contrast during the performances of these American jazz classics. Dolores sings them as American as it can be, but in the accompaniment there are clear Brazilian influences. It all sounds seriously professional, yet the atmosphere is very relaxed. There’s a short example of Dolores’ ability to sing in French, when she ventures into the first two strophes of “Hymne a l’Amour.” Four Brazilian compositions complete the set of the evening. Two by Billy Blanco; the syncopated performed samba “Mocinho Bonito” and the passionate samba-canção “Coisa Mais Triste.” With “Neste Mesmo Lugar” Dolores proves again to master various singing styles. The set is concluded with the samba-canção “Marca na Parede”, which ends with a little rumour, probably a few more guests who show up too late (we hear greetings and laughter).
To complete the album, three extra songs were added from soirees at the apartment of Raul and Helenita Marques de Azevedo; also friends from Dolores (and, as a side-note, grandparents of Marisa Monte). The sound quality of the recordings is less, but the historical significance in the Dolores Duran biography is of a compensating height. The first songs, “Body and Soul” and “Eu Sim Você,” were recorded in 1949, when Dolores was only 18 years old. She was accompanied by pianist Jaques Klein (1930-1982), a classical pianist, with a love for jazz. In “Eu Sim Você” the duo is extended by its composer, guitarist Billy Blanco (1924), a musical partner of Dolores. The third extra take is the samba “Praça Mauá,” taped at the same apartment in 1953. Composer Billy Blanco accompanies Dolores on the acoustic guitar. Billy Blanco was still studying architecture at that time. Ever since then he divided his time between music and a job as architect.
It all forms a worthy memorial album for one of the more outstanding musicians in the history of Brazilian Popular Music. The ambitious Dolores would have been extremely pleased with the result of these remastered tapes; to hear her own voice the way she never heard it before. Only to realize, as everyone else who listens to this CD, that she was really one of a kind. Fifty years after she passed away…
Biscoito Fino BF-900 (2009)
DRG-Brazil DRG 31624.2 (2010)
- How High the Moon (Nancy Hamilton/ Morgan Lewis)
- Cry Me a River (Arthur Hamilton)
- Neste Mesmo Lugar (Armando Cavalcanti – Klécius Caldas)
- Coisa Mais Triste (Billy Blanco)
- Hymne a L’Amour (Part 2) (Marguerite Monnot – Edith Piaf)
- Makin’ Whoopee (Walter Donaldson – Gus Kahn)
- Cheek to Cheek (Irving Berlin)
- Mocinho Bonito (Billy Blanco)
- Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen – Edgar Yipsel Harburg)
- Marca na Parede (Ismael Neto – Mario Faccini)
- Body and Soul (Edward Heyman – Robert Sour – Frank Eyton – Johnny Green)
- Eu sem Você (Billy Blanco)
- Praça Mauá (Billy Blanco)