The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘Luis Bonfá’ Category

Cherry Red’s él Heads to the Sixties for Pop Art, Bossa Nova, and Singing Celebs

leave a comment »

Pop Goes the Easel

What made the swinging sixties swing?  Cherry Red’s él label continues to explore the various corners of early 1960s pop music with a trio of releases that, in large part, offer answers to that very question.  Pop Goes the Easel: The Start of the Swinging Sixties takes its name from maverick director Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary film, and over two eclectic CDs, boasts 65 tracks from thirteen different films and television programs.  Artists range from Buddy Holly to Anthony Newley.  A fine companion disc is Bowler Hats and Leather Boots: Personalities Go Pop Art.  If Pop Goes the Easel shows how music infiltrated cinema, Bowler Hats shows how silver-screen personalities infiltrated music.  Hence, you’ll hear songs from such offbeat singing stars as Oliver Reed, Anthony Perkins and even Orson Welles.  Lastly, Modernism and Bossa Nova offers a heaping helping of songs with lyrics by the poet Vinicius de Moraes, frequent collaborator of Antonio Carlos Jobim and the co-writer of “The Girl from Ipanema.”  The 29 tracks on this anthology laid the foundation of bossa nova, which set the musical tone for countless swinging bachelor pads!

Ken Russell’s BBC documentary Pop Goes the Easel introduced the British public to four “pop artists” –Peter Philips, Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier and future Sgt. Pepper cover artist Peter Blake.  Pop Goes the Easel: The Start of the Swinging Sixties looks at the musical soundtracks to many of the films and television shows that bade farewell to the 1950s and ushered in the 1960s.  James Darren, Buddy Holly and Clay Cole tunes populated Russell’s film.  For 1959’s Elvis-inspired Idle on Parade (also known as Idol on Parade), Anthony Newley played the titular idol and supplied songs with titles like “Sat’day Night Rock-a-Boogie” and “Idle Rock-a-Boogie.”  1962’s drama All Night Long was a hip jazz take on Shakespeare’s Othello, and its soundtrack (included here in full) featured performances from Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus and John Dankworth.  The same year, Play It Cool starred real-life pop idol Billy Fury; five songs are heard here from its soundtrack including Fury’s hit “Once Upon a Dream.”

Future A Hard Day’s Night director Richard Lester helmed It’s Trad, Dad! from that pivotal year of 1962, a youth-oriented comedy about two teens fighting the local establishment over their right to enjoy the new jazz!  Stars Helen Shapiro and Craig Douglas are heard on the soundtrack here, performing their own songs from the film.  Chubby Checker, Gene McDaniels, Del Shannon and The Paris Sisters are also featured.  On the television side, Pop Goes the Easel features songs heard in The Avengers and The Prisoner.  This slipcased anthology also features early works from composers John Barry (“The Lolly Theme,” from The Amorous Prawn) and Lionel Bart (“Sparrows Can’t Sing,” from Joan Littlewood’s movie of the same name).

After the jump, we’ll dive into Bowler Hat and Leather Boots: Personalities Go Pop Art and Modernism and Bossa Nova.  Plus: full track listings and order links for all three titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 13, 2014 at 13:17

Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars: Él Collects Vintage Gilberto, Jobim, Bonfá on CD

with 3 comments

Joao Gilberto - The LegendFewer images in music are more evocative than that of the tall and tan and young and lovely girl from Ipanema, walking like a samba and inspiring passersby to go, “Aaaah.”  Jazz musicians of every stripe and every instrument latched onto Brazil’s bossa nova sound after it exploded to popularity in the wake of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luis Bonfá, Vinicius de Moraes and João Gilberto’s soundtrack to the 1959 film Black Orpheus.  Though Black Orpheus was the breakthrough, it wasn’t the birth of bossa nova.  From the very beginning, though, was João Gilberto.  Él Records, an imprint of the Cherry Red Group, has just released two new collections that chronicle the early, heady days of bossa nova and the works of Gilberto: the 2-CD mini-box set João Gilberto: The Legend and the various-artists songbook collection The Hits of João Gilberto.

João Gilberto began recording in his native Brazil as early as 1951, but his earliest work was mere prelude to the seismic contributions he would make to world music later in the decade.  “Bim-Bom,” written by Gilberto in 1956 but not recorded until 1958, has been considered the first true bossa nova song.  The artist’s hushed, intimate style of voice-and-guitar epitomized the breezy yet sophisticated genre which refined the traditional sound of samba into something altogether more intimate.  Identified by gentle acoustic guitar and sometimes piano, and often adorned with subtle string or horn accents, bossa nova de-emphasized the more percussive aspects of samba.  Instead, an emphasis was placed on the inviting melodies and rich harmonies.  Gilberto’s 1959 album Chega de Saudade, named after a composition by his friends Jobim and de Moraes, was the first bossa nova LP, and ignited the genre.  It’s the first of three consecutive albums from Gilberto included on Disc One of The Legend.  This disc also includes 1960’s O Amor, O Sorriso e a Flor, and 1961’s self-titled João Gilberto.

Gilberto popularized many cornerstones of the bossa nova songbook on these three albums, many written by his compatriot Jobim, often referred to as “the Gershwin of Brazil.”  Chega de Saudade, with arrangements and productions from Jobim, features “Desafinado (Off-Key)” alongside Gilberto’s own “Bim-Bom” and songs from future bossa legends Dori Caymmi and Carlos Lyra.  O Amor, also produced and arranged by Jobim, included yet more standards-to-be such as “Samba de Uma Nota So (One Note Samba),” “Meditação (Meditation)” and “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars).”  Whereas Chega had also updated samba classics in the new style, O Amor widened its net to transform vintage American songs such as Mort Dixon and Harry Woods’ venerable “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.”   1961’s eponymous album found Gilberto teaming not just with Jobim but with organist Walter Wanderley.  Jobim and Wanderley split arrangement duties, and Gilberto tackled more compositions from Lyra and Caymmi as well as a handful of songs from Jobim including “Insensatez (How Insensitive).”

These three albums formed the roots of bossa nova, and by the release of the 1961 album, the genre was poised for its imminent international success.  The second disc of The Legend, however, turns the clock back for a collection of Antiques and Curios.  This odds-and-ends collection has embryonic bossa tracks from Gilberto dating to 1951 and 1952, but also draws from a number of recordings during and after the period chronicled on the first disc.  Hence, Antiques offers a sampling from Black Orpheus (including the much-covered “Manha de Carnaval”) alongside seven songs from vocalist Elizete Cardoso recorded with both Gilberto and Jobim in 1958 and four from singer Jonas Silva on which he is accompanied by Gilberto.  Also included are selections from the soundtrack of 1962’s Copacabana Palace film, which (like Black Orpheus) had the participation of Gilberto, Jobim and Bonfá.  The Legend is handsomely packaged in a slipcase containing a booklet of liner notes and both discs in individual mini-LP sleeves.

After the jump: what’s on The Hits of João Gilberto?  Plus: track listings and order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 31, 2013 at 10:09

Relaunched FiveFour Label Offers Rare Jazz Classics from Ornette Coleman, Luis Bonfá, Gary Burton

with 2 comments

FiveFour, the jazz-oriented sister label of Cherry Red’s él imprint, had lain dormant since 2008 following releases by some of the genre’s greatest artists including Bill Evans, Buddy Rich and Milt Jackson. Founder Mike Alway has just reactivated FiveFour, however, and the label has just relaunched with three long out-of-print titles drawn from the Sony Music archives: Ornette Coleman’s Chappaqua Suite (1965), The Gary Burton Quartet’s In Concert (1968) and a two-fer from Luis Bonfá: The New Face of Bonfa (1970) and Introspection (1972).

The most demanding of the three titles, and perhaps the most rewarding for some listeners, is doubtless Coleman’s Chappaqua Suite. Free jazz pioneer Coleman was commissioned by director Conrad Rooks to compose a score to his film Chappaqua, a soon-to-be underground classic exploring Rooks’ drug addiction. The motion picture, released in 1967, featured appearances by Coleman (as the Peyote Eater) alongside other icons like William S. Burroughs (Opium Jones), Allen Ginsberg (Messie) and Ravi Shankar (Dieu de Soleil). But Rooks ultimately decided against using Coleman’s score, fearing it would overpower the film itself. Chappaqua’s music was provided in the end by Shankar and The Fugs; Fugs leader Ed Sanders also appeared in the movie. Columbia Records went ahead and issued Coleman’s intended score as Chappaqua Suite in 1965, before the actual film was completed and released.

Chappaqua Suite consists of four lengthy pieces of music, each one which actually took up one full side of the original double-LP set. Coleman, on alto saxophone and trumpet, is joined by David Izenson on bass and Charles Moffett on drums, plus Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone (on the fourth segment) as well as a studio orchestra arranged by Joseph Tekula. (The liner notes credited “eleven studio musicians.”) Taken as a whole, Chappaqua Suite certainly is a rather overpowering composition, typical of Coleman’s free jazz style but with a unique sound thanks to the presence of the orchestra. It can turn on a dime from pastoral to clattering, disturbing to swinging. Though heavily improvised and light on traditional melody and changes, Coleman’s control is never in question. It’s fierce and unrelenting, and if it’s not for everybody, it’s an expression of the saxophonist/composer’s singular, and influential, vision. FiveFour quotes Coleman: “I didn’t need to worry about keys, chords, [or] melody if I had that emotion that brought tears and laughter to people’s hearts.”] The original Columbia album was withdrawn from the catalogue shortly after its release, and has not been widely available since then, making FiveFour’s reissue most worthy, indeed!

After the jump: Bonfa’s bossa nova and Burton’s good, good, good vibes! Plus: track listings, pre-order links and more!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 4, 2012 at 10:08