A Gold Mine
When Ouro Negro was released in Brazil in 2001, it definitely caused a stir in the media and public alike. The quality of the production was such that one journalist said that if there was anything negative about this double CD was its title. He was making a reference to the fact that in order to have this majestic tribute made, it was necessary to get the Brazilian national oil company (Petrobrás) as a partial sponsor of this undertaking. The choice in the title Ouro Negro (Black Gold) was clearly connected to the “other” black gold we so heavily depend on these days. Almost three years later, Adventure Music releases the same double CD to a wider audience. The packaging is similar to the original, including the complete and photo-filled booklet with information about the maestro, the performers and the songs featured here.
Moacir José dos Santos was born on July 26, 1926, in the countryside of Pernambuco, a northeastern state in Brazil. One of four brothers, he lost his mother at age three and was raised by his godmother. As a child, one of his favorite pastimes was to play musical games along with other kids in his neighborhood. They would get together and imitate the local city band in the main square. The game turned into reality at 14 years of age, when he began actually playing several reed instruments as well as the guitar and drums in his city band. The rest is history. Maestro Moacir Santos traveled the world.
Ouro Negro was produced by Mario Adnet and Zé Nogueira and uses original transcriptions of Santos’s own arrangements for music from his albums Coisas (Forma 1965), Maestro (Blue Note 1972), Saudade (Blue Note 1974) and Carnival of Spirits (Blue Note 1975). To give you an idea of the magnitude of this tribute, Zé Nogueira and Mario Adnet had to redo the charts of the album Coisas because the original scores were lost when the Forma label was sold to Polygram. So, what you get is Moacir Santos music, his original arrangements and even his special appearances in a few tracks. A quick look at the roster of names involved in the project will certify this is no small feat. Considering the great music Santos wrote, it is really no wonder that Mílton Nascimento, Djavan, Gilberto Gil, Joyce and many others jumped at the chance to be involved in this project. It is a well-deserved tribute presented by the best in Brazilian music. The instrumentalists featured here include Mario Adnet and Ricardo Silveira (guitars), Cristóvão Bastos and Marcos Nimrichter (piano), Jorge Helder (bass), Nailor Proveta (alto sax), Zé Nogueira (soprano sax), Teco Cardoso (baritone sax), Hugo Pilger (cello), Jessé Sadoc (trumpet) and many other top-notch performers.
From the opening track, including “Nanã,” one of Santos’s most recognizable melodies, the listener is transported to Santos musical world with unparalleled artistry. The fact the liner notes include small statements about each song makes this work even more valuable. You get the composer’s mind and his comments about each tune. It’s a perspective not often shared by other artists. The first vocal appearance in this collection is presented by Mílton Nascimento, who sings “Coisa Nº 8 – Navegação” beautifully, especially in the section where he uses his extraordinary falsetto. This song, according to Santos, was inspired by Luiz Gonzaga’s “Vem Morena.” This northeastern association in Santos’s music will reappear in other tracks, e.g., “Mãe Iracema” (inspired by José de Alencar’s romance Iracema). Another example is featured in “Bluishmen,” where Santos talks about the similarities between an African coastal tribe and other blacks in Ceará. This mixture of Brazilian and universal themes in Santos’s music is one reason why Ouro Negro is such a remarkable and timeless release.
You can read more about Ouro Negro and hear sound samples here.
Moacir Santos – Ouro Negro
MP,B 325912001312 (2001)
Adventure Music AM1011 2 (2004)
Time [CD 1]: 59’12”
Time [CD 2]: 56’12”
- Coisa nº 5 – Nanã (Moacir Santos)
- Suk-cha (Moacir Santos)
- Coisa nº 6 (Moacir Santos)
- Coisa nº 8 – Navegação (Regina Werneck – Moacir Santos – Nei Lopes) – w/ Mílton Nascimento
- Amphibious (Moacir Santos)
- Mãe Iracema (Moacir Santos)
- Coisa nº 1 (Clóvis Mello – Moacir Santos)
- Sou Eu (Luanne) (Moacir Santos – Nei Lopes) – w/ Djavan & Moacir Santos
- Bluishmen (Moacir Santos)
- Kathy (Moacir Santos) – w/ Moacir Santos
- Kamba (Moacir Santos)
- Coisa nº 9 (Regina Werneck – Moacir Santos)
- Orfeu (Quiet Carnival) (Moacir Santos – Nei Lopes) – w/ Ed Motta
- Amalgamation (Moacir Santos)
- Coisa nº 7 (Evocative) (Mário Telles – Moacir Santos) – w/ Moacir Santos
- Coisa nº 2 (Moacir Santos)
- Lamento Astral (Astral Whine) (Moacir Santos) – w/ Moacir Santos
- Maracatu, Nação do Amor (April Child) (Moacir Santos – Nei Lopes) – w/ Gilberto Gil
- Coisa nº 4 (Moacir Santos)
- Coisa nº 10 (Moacir Santos)
- Jequié (Moacir Santos – Aldir Blanc )
- Oduduá (What´s My Name) (Moacir Santos – Nei Lopes) – w/ João Bosco
- Coisa nº 3 (Moacir Santos)
- Anon (Moacir Santos)
- Quermesse (Moacir Santos)
- De Repente, Estou Feliz (Happily Happy) (Moacir Santos) – w/ Joyce & João Donato
- Maracatucutê (Moacir Santos)
- Bodas de Prata Dourada (Moacir Santos) – w/ Sheila Smith, Muiza Adnet & Moacir Santos