The first thing that will catch your attention in Mú Carvalho’s new album is its title: Óleo Sobre Tela. Even before hearing any of the original 13 tracks, you cannot help but enjoy the gorgeous liner notes. The carefully crafted booklet displays a collection of beautiful artwork blended nicely with a couple of simple photographs. In brief, as the album release explains, Óleo Sobre Tela is the result of Mú Carvalho’s personal belief about the symbiosis of all arts. He says that “in all artistic expression there is a kind of energy that nourishes the observer” and takes him/her somewhere as a result of that. He goes on and mentions the influence of Cèzanne’s paintings on Hemingway’s stories and the Moulin Rouge dances in Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings. So, here in this fine release Mú pays tribute to the arts, the artists and their works. Óleo Sobre Tela is art in its purest form.
Mú Carvalho (Maurício Magalhães de Carvalho), born in Rio de Janeiro in 1957, grew up surrounded by music. His siblings are Dadi (bassist, singer, songwriter), Sergio (producer) and Heloísa (Brazilian music researcher). He began his musical career at age 16 and has performed with Jorge Benjor, Moraes Moreira, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, Alceu Valença and several others. Mú is likely better known as the founder of the group A Cor do Som and also a member of Tigres de Bengala. In addition to all of that, he also has written several novela, theater and movie soundtracks. Furthermore, in 2005 together with Ana Zingoni he created the label Café Brasil, and Óleo Sobre Tela is its first release. The label challenges the Brazilian musical market with a strong proposition: to release quality music with no preoccupation of immediate commercial success. Based on what you will hear in this album, that proposition is fulfilled very nicely. In addition to Mú (piano and keyboards), other top-notch musicians add to the quality of this product: Arthur Maia (bass), Jorginho Gomes and Jurim Moreira (drums), Carlos Malta, Nivaldo Ornelas and David Ganc (flutes), Nando Duarte (seven-string acoustic guitar), Edu Morelembaum (clarone), Sidinho (percussion), Idriss Boudrioua (also sax), Ana Zingoni (guitar), Armandinho (mandolin), Pepeu Gomes (guitar), Márcio Montarroyos (flugelhorn) and several others.
The music performed here is truly a wonderful watercolor of genres, and each track is associated with an artist (shown in the track listing above). In the liner notes, by each track we find a painting that reflects the mood of each composition. Showcasing his diverse musical formation, Mú starts off with the delectable choro “Tagarelo,” in which his wurlitzer piano solo is featured along with Carlos Malta’s flute. The next track, “Manhã Azul,” is a nice bossa featuring Idriss Boudrioua’s alto sax solos. In “Veneza,” the influences from Nino Rota’s and Ennio Morricone’s movie scores are noticeably present. Chico Chagas’s accordion solo brings in a taste of France and Italy to this piece. Traveling back to Brazil, “Baile na Roça” is an electric mixture of baião and forró. Chagas’s accordion now is joined by Pepeu Gomes’s guitar and Nicolas Krassik’s violin in a dazzling solo. Still exploring northeastern rhythms of baião and maracatu, “Acenda a Fogueira” brings back Malta and Chagas. Another enchanting choro very much reminiscent of Ernesto Nazareth’s classic pieces is “Paisagem Carioca.” The piece will definitely take you back to Rio de Janeiro in the beginning of the nineteenth century. The modern art of Anita Malfatti is presented in “O Farol de Anita.” The melodious ballad “Pra Onde Foram Todas as Flores?” is melancholic and touching. For “Dança Cigana,” the gypsy mood comes shining through Malta’s and Chagas’s outstanding solos. As for “Relógio de Dali,” nothing better than a very jazzy arrangement in which Mú’s Hammond organ solo is centerpiece. “Caffè Florian” is another memorable ballad featuring Mú on Rhodes and Márcio Montarroyos’s haunting flugelhorn solo. Just like “Baile na Roça,” “Licor das Bruxas” is another intoxicating piece with Mú’s fingers flying all over the keys while the arrangement alternates between a Greek mazurka and a choro. In closing the album, “Joinville” is the most cinematographic piece with a grandiose arrangement.
Óleo Sobre Tela
Café Brasil AA0001000 (2005)
All music by Mú Carvalho.
- Tagarelo [Picasso]
- Manhã Azul [Matisse]
- Veneza [Monet]
- Baile na Roça [Portinari]
- Acenda a Fogueira [Volpi]
- Paisagem Carioca [Daeco]
- O Farol da Anita [Anita Malfatti]
- Pra Onde Foram Todas as Flores? [Antônio Cláudio Carvalho]
- Dança Cigana [Clare Andrews]
- Relógio de Dali [Salvador Dali]
- Caffè Florian [Modigliani]
- Licor das Bruxas [Van Gogh]
- Joinville [dedicated to his father, Haroldo de Carvalho]