It still surprises me that in a country with such Christmas traditions as Brazil has, there are not many recordings with holiday music. Even after Simone released her successful 25 de Dezembro in 1995, recording labels did not jump on the bandwagon to flood the market with Brazilian artists singing Christmas music. So, when Ivan Lins decided to release Um Novo Tempo, it was a nice treat.
Mixing traditional Brazilian Christmas music, such as Assis Valente’s “Boas Festas,” with new pieces, such as Celso Viáfora’s “Papai Noel de Camiseta,” Um Novo Tempo feels like Christmas morning with its surprises. In fact, the album’s best moments are with the new songs. Even the Brazilian version of José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” sounds fresh.
As the listener goes from track to track, one thing becomes obvious: Brazilian Christmas music is very different from its North American counterpart. Brazilian songwriters explore the variety of traditions and rhythms in our music and culture. “Ô de Casa” is a good example since it focuses on the Wise Men’s day in Brazil, January 6, when the Christmas season ends in Brazil. That tradition — Dia de Reis — is very much alive in the lyrics by Sérgio Natureza. People go from door to door on that day singing the praises of Christ’s birth. At each house, the owners greet the visitors with food and beverages. Another example of the Brazilian celebration is evidenced in Aldir Blanc’s lyrics for “Festas.” Everything is a party for Brazilian, the lyrics say:
Quando desejamos Boas Festas
Na verdade, a festa somos nós
Brasileiros, somos assim mesmo
Na Páscoa, São João ou no Natal.
When we wish season’s greetings
In reality the party is all of us
Brazilians, we are that way
At Easter, St. John or Christmas.
Another new song written for this album is Ivan Lins and Vitor Martins’ samba “Noite para Festejar.” The humor in Adoniran Barbosa’s “Véspera de Natal” is, as always, impeccable in this delicious samba about Christmas Eve. The samba focuses on the misfortune of this character who dresses up as Santa Claus only to find himself stuck in the chimney as he tries to deliver bread and other goodies to the kids. Another Brazilian Santa Claus is portrayed in Celso Viáfora’s “Papai Noel de Camiseta.” Here Santa Claus is typically Brazilian. Instead of bells, he’ll carry an agogô and will appear singing Noel Rosa’s “Palpite Infeliz.” Instead of the traditional attire, he’ll be wearing a tank top. Christmas will be the same, nevertheless, and people will gather to party as if it were Carnaval.
Besides José Feliciano’s guest appearance in the first track, Simone and Simone Guimarães join Ivan Lins for two other duets. Of course, a Brazilian Christmas album would not be complete without the most well-known Christmas song in the Brazilian songbook, Assis Valente’s “Boas Festas.” The arrangement Ivan Lins chose here was simple and highlighted by a chorus of children’s voices. Bittersweet moments, such as those sung in “Boas Festas,” mix with the happiness of the celebration of Christmas bringing together rich and poor. Um Novo Tempo captures the reality of Christmastime in Brazil with a good combination of old and new music.
Um Novo Tempo
Abril Music 1107019-2 (1999)
- Um Feliz Natal (Feliz Navidad) (José Feliciano – Ivan Lins) – w/ José Feliciano
- Noite Feliz (Silent Night) (Franz Gruber – Vicente Aricó Júnior)
- Festas (Ivan Lins – Aldir Blanc)
- Um Natal Brasileiro (Ivan Lins – Tavinho Daher) – w/ Simone
- Ô de Casa (Simone Guimarães – Sérgio Natureza) – w/ Simone Guimarães
- Boas Festas (Assis Valente)
- Noite pra Festejar (Ivan Lins – Vitor Martins)
- Então É Natal (Happy Xmas) (Was Is Over) (John Lennon – Yoko Ono – Cláudio Rabello)
- Papai Noel de Camiseta (Celso Viáfora)
- Bate o Sino (Jingle Bells) (PD – Ivan Lins)
- Um Bom Natal (O Tannembaum) (PD – Ivan Lins)
- Natal das Crianças (Blackout)
- Véspera de Natal (Adoniran Barbosa)
- Adeste Fidelis (PD – Ivan Lins)
- Novo Tempo (Ivan Lins – Vitor Martins)
Incidental music: Fim de Ano (Francisco Alves – David Nasser)