The Right Ingredients
There must be a music gene characteristic of the state of Bahia in northeast Brazil. How else would you explain so many important names in Brazilian music, such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, João Gilberto, Maria Bethânia, Gal Costa, Ivete Sangalo, Batatinha and many others? Add to that the group Novos Baianos, formed in Salvador (Bahia’s state capital) in 1968. The group later on would split up and its members would pursue successful solo careers, as is the case of Baby do Brasil (formerly known as Baby Consuelo), Pepeu Gomes, and Moraes Moreira. Moreira left the group in 1975 and affirmed himself as a strong force in Carnaval music, the Brazilian Mardi Gras celebration. His first Carnaval solo hit was “Pombo Correio,” a super-charged song full of electric guitars in the most traditional style of the famous “trios elétricos” (electric trios) of Salvador street parades. Another hit penned by Moreira (and co-writer Abel Silva) is Gal Costa’s 1981 “Festa do Interior.”
Always connected to Carnaval and Salvador, Moreira released an album that produced several Carnaval hits for the 2000 parades. The title, 500 Sambas, makes reference to Brazil’s 500th anniversary of the Portuguese arrival on the coast of Bahia in the year 1500. It would be inaccurate, however, to think of this CD as a samba CD. There’s samba indeed. The album opens with “500 Sambas,” a celebration of samba composers Carlos Cachaça, Cartola, as well as other Brazilian traditions (e.g., soccer) and our religious syncretism. However, what is truly infectious in 500 Sambas is the typical Moraes Moreira frevo style, that electrifying rhythm of the Brazilian northeast Carnaval. In other tracks, Moreira pays tribute to his home state of Bahia. In “Festa de ArromBahia,” the focus is the many performers that were born in Bahia, whereas in “Estação Bahia,” the people in general take center stage. Yet in “Escola Dodô e Osmar/Atrás do Meu Trio,” Moreira will not forget the duo who made Bahian Carnaval what it is today. Dodô and Osmar were the moving forces behind all the street celebrations in Salvador and its electric trios (huge trucks with musicians parading down the streets of Salvador playing Carnaval music).
This album has the right ingredients. Moraes Moreira can write good frevos. Like most Carnaval music, the lyrics need to be easy to remember, have catchy choruses and be lively. There is plenty of that in 500 Sambas. This is most definitely a party album for your Carnaval celebrations.
Abril Music 11007024-2 (1999)
All tracks by Moraes Moreira, except where noted.
- Brasil 500 Sambas (Tavinho Paes – Moraes Moreira)
- Festa de ArromBahia
- Estação Bahia
- Só de Sacanagem
- Baião de 2000
- Escola Dodô e Osmar (Armandinho – Moraes Moreira) / Atrás do Meu Trio (Moraes Moreira-Fausto Nilo)
- A Lua dos Amantes (Pepeu Gomes – Moraes Moreira)
- Cidade da Bahia
- Triscou, Pegou
- Jubileu de Ouro (Armandinho – Moraes Moreira)
- Melô do Camarote (Toninho Paes – Moraes Moreira)
- ABC das Frutas
- Asa Branca da Paz
A modified version of this review first appeared in Luna Kafé, January 2000.