How does one top a release such as Moacir Santos – Ouro Negro? Mario Adnet and Zé Nogueira make the wise decision to invest more in the wonderful music of living legend Moacir Santos (Vila Bela, Pernambuco, 1926) by releasing this essential album, Choros & Alegria.
However, before delving deeper into that release, it is also important to note that there is a three-volume songbook collection Cancioneiro Moacir Santos, which was simultaneously released this year in Brazil. The books, also organized by Adnet and Nogueira, focus on the music written by Santos. The three volumes are Coisas (with the music from the 1965 album, which was re-released this year, too); the second is Ouro Negro (referring to the double CD by the same title); and the third is Choros & Alegria. To publish this music, Adnet and Nogueira had to rewrite all the arrangements for Coisas by ear since the originals had been lost. This task, as arduous as it might be, shows the dedication Adnet and Nogueira have to keep alive the great music of Moacir Santos.
Choros & Alegria covers Santos’ music prior to his 1965 Coisas album. Putting together musicians for such a project is not hard, especially with Adnet’s and Nogueira’s names associated with it. The twenty-four major players include, among others, Andréa Ernest Dias, Cristóvão Bastos, Jessé Sadoc, Marcello Gonçalves, Marcos Nimrichter, Nailor Proveta, RIcardo Silveira, Teco Cardoso, Zé Paulo Becker besides Adnet, Nogueira and Santos themselves and very special guest Wynton Marsalis.
Adnet and Nogueira did a lot of research to recover the forgotten melodies in this album. In a time line, it is important to note that six of the pieces (tracks four through nine) presented here date back to the 1940s, the same time when Pixinguinha was revolutionizing Brazilian music with his orchestrations. As for the other numbers, we can hear the more complex melodies more easily associated with Santos from 1965 on. Arrangements are written by Santos, Adnet and Nogueira for the most part, but one track — the gorgeous choro “Ricaom” — is arranged by Trio Madeira Brasil and still some other tracks are re-orchestrations of Adnet’s based on original arrangements by Moacir Santos and Curt Berg. In all, the fifteen tracks are beautiful compositions showing the diverse universe of Santos’s music. However, I must say that those tracks from the 1940s are the centerpiece of this release. “Vaidoso,” the first of those tracks, features a lovely tenor sax by Marcelo Martins, who later on doubles with Vittor Santos’s endearing trombone in an unforgettable duet. Proveta’s clarinet solo in “Flores” is another delicious highlight. He steps back in the second verse to allow Dias’s piccolo take center stage. It is hard not to want to dance to these numbers. There is a certain evocative feeling carried on in these arrangements. The golden era of the 1940s is vividly portrayed. Nimrichter’s accordion and piano showcase in “Saudade de Jacques” pays great tribute to the song’s honoree, Jackson do Pandeiro. As expected, “Cleonix” is dedicated to Cleonice Santos, Moacir’s wife. Here, Zé Nogueira’s soprano sax is matched in beauty by Wander Nascimento’s trumpet. The richness of this music is mesmerizing in all aspects. When the entire ensemble seems to change for “Ricaom,” we are presented with Trio Madeira Brasil’s stellar arrangement and performance. Zé Paulo Becker (acoustic guitar), Marcello Gonçalves (7-string guitar) and Ronaldo do Bandolim (mandolin) shine brightly. We finally close this 1940 section with a merry encounter of flute (Dias), clarinet (Proveta), tenor sax (Martins) and trombone (Santos). The remainder of these tracks are beautiful bookends carefully prepared to support the core of this project. “Outra Coisa,” for example, has a nice reminiscent touch of the themes used in the original Coisas album. Also it must be noted the awesome presence of Wynton Marsalis with his trumpet solo in “Rota Infinito” (the song title uses the symbol for infinity instead of the word).
Choros & Alegria is a great album featuring timeless Moacir Santos’s compositions in superb arrangements and renditions. Adnet and Nogueira accomplished a rare feat in producing this album. We can only hope for more to come from their minds and hands. You can read more about this album and the artist here. There is also additional information with sound samples here.
Moacir Santos – Choros & Alegria
Adventure Music AM1022 2 (2005)
All compositions by Moacir Santos.
- Agora Eu Sei
- Outra Coisa
- Saudade de Jacques
- De Bahia ao Ceará
- Excerto No. 1
- Os Lemurianos (Pâtâla)
- Rota Infinito
- Samba Di Amante