Sunday, November 9, 2014

YouTube pick of the week: Three Phases of Sivuca!

For This week's feature, I'd like to share the music of one of my favorite musicians, Severino dias de Oliveira, better know by the professional name Sivuca had an extremely long and prolific career, not only in Brazil, but internationally as well. An accomplished pianist, guitarist and arranger, Sivuca's primary instrument was the accordion and I would argue that he was the finest accordionist of his generation.

While a kid called George Harrison was introducing Paul McCartney to John Lennon, Sivuca was already releasing his second album, the "Motivo Para Dancar" (Reason to Dance) released in 1957, one year before Joao Gilberto's first single, a song called "Chega de Saudade" and two years before  Gilberto's first full LP, which had the same title (and was featured on BBR #25). Unlike Gilberto's album, Sivuca's has long been out of print, but we're lucky to be able to hear it thanks to YouTube. Many of Sivuca's signature traits were already present at this early stage, Including his impressive facility on the Accordion, as well as his vocalizations, a trait that he dropped in favor of actual singing later in his career. The set presented here is hardly likely to set the house on fire, but the musicality is undeniable.

Years went by and Bossa Nova had its day. While Sivuca did even adopt some of its repertoire, he was always more at home in the Forro idiom. In some ways this marginalized Sivuca, as this musical style, associated with the rural areas of northeastern Brazil was considered unsophisticated by the people living in the large urban centers, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Still, Sivuca thrived through the strength of his music and released albums regularly.

Of the three featured albums, I own and recommend very highly our second selection, 1993's Pau Doido, Released overseas with the name Crazy Groove. A highly virtuosic album, which I own on vinyl and on CD.

In the latter years of his career, Sivuca's lifetime achievement afforded him many opportunities, including the chance to record with two other younger accordionists, the late great Dominguinhos and Oswaldinho do Acordeom. With the former's death, I would argue that Oswaldinho is the greatest living Brazilian accordionist, if one does not count Multiinstrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal. The selections tackled by the trio are more retrospective in nature and played a bit too fast for my ears, but all in all still a very enjoyable album,

Bem Brasil with Will Crawford is a Native Alternative Production. 
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