A Voice for the Ages!
Can saudade be accurately defined? Arguably not. Most people believe that the Brazilian word for deep, almost painful, longing and nostalgia is a feeling that offers no direct translation in any other language. Instead of trying to explain saudade, why not hear it?
For his U.S. debut album, Saudade, Renato Braz (1968, São Paulo) brings his inimitable high tenor voice — hardly any vibrato — in a collection of 15 astoundingly beautiful songs from the rich Brazilian songbook. Ten years in the making, the album was produced by Paul Winter and Dixon Van Winkle, with associate production by Kik Thomas. Besides featuring the Paul Winter Consort and the Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble, Saudade also adds appearances by Dori Caymmi and Ivan Lins as well as featuring musicians such as Eugene Friesen (cello), Paul McCandless (oboe, English horn), Don Grusin (piano), Nilson Matta (bass) and Toninho Ferragutti (accordion). The repertoire was impeccably chosen to fit these guests and Renato Braz’ voice. Some of the songwriters included in the album are Paulo César Pinheiro, Fátima Guedes, Dori Caymmi, Ivan Lins, Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, Zeca Baleiro and several others.
Renato Braz (singer, guitarist, drummer, percussionist) began his career in São Paulo playing drums and singing in night clubs. As it is traditional in Brazil, he also performed in various music festivals and in concerts along names such as Luiz Melodia, Antônio Nóbrega and Ney Matogrosso. With ten albums to date and countless other participations in various artists’ releases, Renato Braz is a well-known and established singer in Brazil. His 2001 album Outro Quilombo, for example, garnered him with the prestigious 2002 Prêmio Visa/Edição Vocal. Brazilian critic Luis Nassif calls Renato Braz “the João Gilberto of he 21st Century.”
The first time Paul Winter heard Renato Braz was in 2004. Coincidentally, it was with the original track “Anabela,” from the self-titled 1996 album. “Anabela” is the opening track here. Through a performance with the Paul Winter Consort in New York, Renato and Paul began their collaboration for Saudade. Little by little, they kept meeting again and again and recording tracks in Paul Winter’s barn, in São Paulo and at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Paul Winter said that his goal was “to find the greatest songs, create the best arrangements, and capture the musical soul of this wonderful singer.” Well, Saudade is all of that and much more. Track after tack, Renato wows his listeners with his voice. He breaks the ceiling with his soaring vocals in “Beatriz.” For him to sing that song was like “entering a sacred place.” Another memorable rendition in Saudade is “Chora Brasileira.” For Renato, the song has a special meaning, as he performed it in his third appearance in the Winter Solstice Celebration in New York in 2006 and dedicated it to his mother, whom he had brought with him to New York. “Disparada” is another noteworthy performance. With songwriter Theo de Barros on acoustic guitar, the track is also meaningful to Renato because at the time the song was first performed in the Record TV Music Festival, his mother was pregnant with him and in the audience watching the final festival results. It is evidently clear that each track in Saudade shows a wide range of emotions in the singer’s stirring vocals. Except for “Eu Não Existo sem Você,” “Na Ilha de Lia, no Barco de Rosa” and “Disparada” all tracks in the album are new arrangements and performances of songs previously recorded by Renato Braz in his Brazilian releases.
Saudade is to be enjoyed when you need peaceful moments. If you’re craving for a voice for the ages and timeless music, Renato Braz is your ticket! His soaring and soothing vocals appear effortless because he brings his energy and music from his soul. Here is Renato Braz and the Paul Winter Consort performing “Anabela.”
Living Music LMU-48 (2015)
- Anabela (Mario Gil – Paulo César Pinheiro)
- O Cantador (Dori Caymmi – Nelson Motta)
- Eu Não Existo sem Você (Antônio Carlos Jobim – Vinicius de Moraes)
- Feitiço da Vila (Vadico – Noel Rosa)
- Acqua Marcia (Ivan Lins – Marina Colasanti)
- Beatriz (Chico Buarque – Edu Lobo)
- Na Ilha de Lia, no Barco de Rosa (Chico Buarque – Edu Lobo)
- Chora Brasileira (Djalma Tinoco – Fátima Guedes – Rosane Lessa)
- Disparada (Theo de Barros – Geraldo Vandré)
- Onde Está Você? (Oscar Castro-Neves – Luvercy Fiorini)
- Sodade, Meu Bem, Sodade (Zé do Norte)
- Bambayuque (Zeca Baleiro)
- The Last Train (Don Grusin)
- Desenredo (Dori Caymmi – Paulo César Pinheiro) – Intro and coda “O Trenzinho do Caipira (Heitor Villa-Lobos)
- Bonus track (live in concert): Angola (Theo de Barros – Paulo César Pinheiro)