Sunday, November 2, 2014

YouTube Pick of the Week: ConSertão, Featuring Heraldo do Monte, Paulo Moura, Artur Moreira Lima & Elomar

Well, it's our first week off the air, but as promised, the show will go on on our blog. (We'll be back on the air soon. Watch this space for updates!)

*****My past shows are still available for download for the next 30 days! Download them while you can!!! Here's the link to my archives:


Today's feature is an album that I had planned to play on the show, but never got around to do it: it's the extremely rare ConSertão album, which I happen to own on vinyl, but which I understand has now been released on CD, so you may be able to get your hands on a copy. Luckily, someone posted the whole thing on YouTube, making it easy for me to share this record with you.

Original Album Cover. L-R: Heraldo do Monte,
Elomar, Arthur Moreira Lima, and Paulo Moura
The concept of a supergroup is well known: a bunch of established artists get together to collaborate on a project. Well-known examples include Cream (with the late Jack Bruce on Bass) and The Traveling Wilburys. 

In Brazil, however, this concept is not as popularized, with the best-known example of a Supergroup probably being Os Doces Barbaros, which was comprised of Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, his sister Maria Bethania and Gal Costa.  Even so, this foursome were not so much a group, as a collaboration between the four srtists. In reality, the first self-contained supergroup title must be given to a group we're covered many times here on BBR, The great Quarteto Novo, which featured Airto Moreira (Weather Report, Return to Forever), Hermeto Pascoal (Miles Davis) , and the comparatively less famous Bassist/Arranger Theo de Barros and Guitarist Heraldo do Monte, who is also playing on the recording we are featuring today.

Besides Heraldo, we have the great Saxophonist Paulo Moura, whose long career has included stints with Cannonball Adderley. Classical pianist Arthur Moreira Lima, who achieved international recognition in 1965 when he drew the second place in the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. Never one to be confined by stylistic labels, Moreira Lima may be the best known interpreter of the works of Ernesto Nazareth, a prominent late 19th/early 20th century composer of Tangos and Boleros highly influenced bi Chopin and who could be broadly described as Brazil's answer to Scott Joplin. 

Rounding out the quartet, we have the singer/songwriter Elomar. Born in the Sertao regions of Northeastern Brazil, Elomar's songs are greatly influenced by Iberian and Arabic music, brought to Brazil by the Portuguese colonization. His folk poetry is often sung in an ancient regional dialect with lyrics that often make references to passages in the Old Testament. Although the least known of the four, his aesthetic seems to be the guiding principle behind the music in this double album. 

The name "ConSertão" is actually a pun. it means both "Large Concert" and "With Sertão", the backlands away from the Atlantic coastal regions where the Portuguese first settled in South America in the early sixteenth century.

This is not a lively record, but rather a long sequence of tone poems with occasional singing from Elomar. on many tracks, Heraldo makes use of the Viola Caipira, a close cousin of the acoustic guitar, and Moreira Lima makes occasional contributions on the harpsichord. An unprecedented meeting of talents whose real significance may not be fully recognized for years to come. Enjoy!

Below is a translation of the rather convoluted liner notes on the back of the album:

The Idea of ConSertão is to showcase the Brazilian instrumentalist and his ability to arrange, improvise, embroider, embellish, weaving musical frames e plots over well-known (or not so well-known) musical themes, but of unquestionable musical value.

The freedom of improvisation, if employed with taste, consolidates the musical form, instead of tearing it apart. This architectural problem, the managing of form in music with space for improvisation, so feared at the beginning of rehearsals, resolved itself as we gradually became accustomed to our companions' musical vocabulary, enhancing our own playing with the wealth of each other's ideas, adding our colleagues' dilalectic wealth to our own musical language.

Another concern we had was to establish musical ambiences, more by suggestion than by affirmation. From there, maybe, originates the somewhat impressionistic character of the opus, as each musician had the opportunity to fully explore his individual fantasy, being limited only by the boundaries of good taste. Evidently, all the influences we experienced as musicians playing as a group  and as human beings came to the fore. 

Arthur Moreira Lima 

Bem Brasil with Will Crawford is a Native Alternative Production. 
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