Discovering New Talent
Among the many great vocalists in Brazil, Gal Costa conquered herself a special place in the Brazilian music history. When the 60-year-old singer from Salvador was in her teens, it already became clear she was destined to become a singer. Performing under her own name, Maria da Graça, or Gracinha, she mainly covered the bossa nova repertoire. A turning point came when she was part of the Tropicalismo movement (1968), which shocked the Brazilian music scene with the power of an earthquake. Some of the most important persons of the Tropicalismo (Gilbert Gil, Tom Zé, Maria Bethânia, Caetano Veloso and Maria da Graça “Gal” Costa) met earlier when they were promoted as young promising talents, at the opening of the Teatro Vila Velha in Salvador (1964). Their cooperation became very fruitful, reacting on what happened outside Brazil (Jimi Hendrix, Beatles, Rolling Stones). The music was dominated by a mix of tradition and avant-garde with heavy sounding electric guitars. Gracinha started to use her new name “Gal Costa” and changed her image from a respectable young girl to that of a true hippy. Odd enough, the problem Gal Costa would fight with during the rest of her career, started here… When her two favourite composers, Gilbert Gil and Caetano Veloso were forced to depart for exile in London (1969), she all of a sudden was without new repertoire. Being a pure vocalist who never composes, Gal started to sing the repertoire of composers like Jards Macalé and Jorge Ben. To cut a long story short, ever since then, she’s been singing the music of settled composers like Buarque, Jobim, …. When people confronted her with that, Gal sent out a major complaint about the lack of new repertoire. With reason, a large group of unknown composers felt underestimated and neglected. Frivolous actions like “Bolsa Nova, Help provide Gal with new repertoire” were born.
And here it is: a new Gal Costa album, her first for Trama, loaded with the music of relatively unknown composers. The repertoire for this cd was chosen from an input of a couple of hundred songs. The music is accompanied mainly by musicians who hardly reached the age of 30 yet, directed by the experience of producer and keyboardist Cesar Camargo Mariano. Guitarist is Marcus Teixeira, who worked with Gal earlier during her “Todas as Coisas e Eu” show, also worked with singers like Rosa Passos, Zélia Duncan, Angela Maria and Zé Luiz Mazziotti. Edu Martins, on acoustic bass, has worked with (among others) Marina Lima, Rita Lee and Cesar Mariano. Electric bassist Robinho, drummer Daniel de Paula and percussionist Márcio Forte are from the Trama stable and gained experience with Wilson Simoninha.
The album opens with “Mar e Sol,” one of the three contributions from Lokua Kanza, singer/ composer from Zaire and composer, writer, journalist Carlos Rennó from São Paulo. The African influenced music is always very well sung by Gal, paying tribute to the strong African culture of her hometown Salvador da Bahia. “Te Adorar” from the same composer duo is a lovely ballad while on their third composition, the pop song “Sexo e Luz,” Lokua Kanza joins in with the vocals. “Voyeur” from Bahian composer Periandro Cordeiro, Péri, has a catchy rhythm and could well be one of the best songs on this album. The song loses character because of the silky and somewhat faceless background vocals (Silvera). Those vocals unfortunately dominate the arrangement of the impressive Junio Barreto composition “Santana.” The beautiful jazzy accompaniment on the sambas “Pra Que Cantar” and “Jurei” (two compositions from Nuno Ramos) are definitely among my favourite tracks. Gal sounds at her best in this kind of compositions. There are also two compositions from Moreno Veloso on this album. The emotionally charged title track “Hoje” and the lovely samba “Um Passo à Frente.” Moreno’s father Caetano Veloso wrote the poetic ballad “Luto” especially for this cd. Maybe the most beautiful track is “Nada a Ver,” only accompanied by the acoustic piano (Mariano) and acoustic bass (Martins). It’s Gal at her best, and the song reminds us about what a delicate pianist Cesar Mariano can be. The bossa “Os Dois” (from Bahian composer Moisés Santana) is another example of how good Gal can sound. When Gal raises her voice, she often sounds too sharp. On many of the songs on this album, Gal uses her mellow and somewhat melancholic but playful timbres; qualities that made her an exceptional vocalist. The penultimate track on this cd underlines those qualities once again. “Embebedado” is a perfect Chico Buarque/José Miguel Wisnik composition. Bassist Edu Martins uses his bow to give the song even more depth.
At this respectable age Gal Costa delivers a very good album on which the choice of repertoire and musicians proved to be a very good move. It makes the singer sound fresh and obviously motivated. And motivation always is good basis for quality.
Trama 1020-2 (2005)
- Mar e Sol (Lokua Kanza – Carlos Rennó)
- Voyeur (Péri)
- Pra que Cantar (Nuno Ramos)
- Te Adorar (Lokua Kanza – Carlos Rennó)
- Santana (Junio Barreto – João Carlos)
- Hoje (Moreno Veloso)
- Jurei (Nuno Ramos – Clima)
- Logus Pé (Tito Bahiense)
- Luto (Caetano Veloso)
- Nada a Ver (Hilton Raw – Lenora de Barros – Marcos Augusto)
- Os Dois (Moisés Santana)
- Sexo e Luz (Lokua Kanza – Carlos Rennó)
- Embebedado (Chico Buarque – José Miguel Wisnik)
- Um Passo à Frente (Moreno Veloso – Quito Ribeiro)