Os quadris da Tradição - 1992
(Bros Luaka Bop / Warner 9 45118-2)
Tom Zé. It´s free
association, a merging of
cultures, quirky and
exhilarating. Settle in to
|SETTLE IN TO BE UNSETTLED
Tom Zé's original title for this album was Ancas, the Portuguese word for hips. "Hips" is hip here because of the immediate association with movement of the body - dance - even if the music might seem more heady than anything else. But there's more to this anca business. The word may have come to Portuguese through Provençal, the language of the medieval troubadors who enchanted ladies and admirers with the fine art of song. And what better way to think of Tom Zé than as a (post -) modern troubador of the electronic age, inventing and blending motz el som (words and sound, in Provençal), as the elegant Brazilian concrete poet and critic Augusto de Campos saw some 20 years ago (here the echo is brightest in "Feira de Santana"). In the 1970's, Tom Zé recorded on a label called Continental, whose beyond - Brazil overtones become even more relevant in listening to this outside urban outbacker who tosses some needed perplexity into the ring of Brazilian music. Zé was a studied poet of song in the 70's; he experimented with decomposition, groaned satires and pursued "serious" metaphor-laden material. No reason to believe any of that has changed. Here you can hear the against-the-grain "Suffer From Youth," and sense the surprise without knowing the native language. Tom Zé makes it strange for Brazilians, too. His colorful, oddball, offbeat words simply make you wonder. And even the noise is nice where polyvalent play-polyrhythms, polyphony and polysemic approaches to performance - abounds. These bits and pieces, compositions, songs and soundings probe tradition, diction, arrangement and derangement.
Settle in to be unsettled, again.
CHARLES A. PERRONE
|THOSE WHO THINK ...
of Brazilian music as just simple samba from he poor black Rio favelas(slums), or as sophisticated bossa nova, once developed in the rich white neighborhoods of Copacabana and lpanema, are wrong. It is even more than the contemporary dance craze, lambada, originating from the city of Belém, or the old but ever - popular rhythms and styles of the Northeast, such as forró.
Just listen to the unusual music on this album. It combines experimental melodies and rhythms with concrete poetic verses. It plays with a deep sense of wit, even sarcastic humor - elements mostly unheard of in progressive circles. No wonder. The auteur is Tom Zé, a singer and composer from the Brazilian Northeast, a man still bursting with energy and musical ideas at the age of 55.
As a young, self - educated guitar player, Tom Zé felt that the partly Lusitanian, partly Indian and partly Black cultural heritage in his home state of Bahia was repetitive. All of the rhythms and dances, customs and fests were going around in circles. Nothing evolved, nothing changed. Tom Zé himself recalls, "Although it was a mythical and beautiful time, every year one sang the same songs in the same manner. Every year, one danced the same dances to the same rhythms and steps when the big celebrations came, or when the traditional religious fests were held, like São João or São Pedro."
During his high school years in Salvador, Tom Zé was exposed to new musical influences from his communist uncles, who, as most communists do, had a strong interest in records and books. They owned all the records of the piano concerts and symphonies of Tchaikovsky. Tom Zé listened with his uncles to Beethoven and Brahms and opera.
Zé was again confronted with more new musical ideas when he entered the College of Music at the University of Bahia in the late 50's. Although there were interruptions - he didn't have much money, coming from a poor family from a little country town upstate - Zé met and studied with teachers who were to influence him profoundly. At this experimental school, classes were held simultaneously in film, theatre, music and poetry.
Some of Tom Zé's most influential teachers were from Europe. Ernst Widmer, from a small city near Zurich, became his link between European and Brazilian folklore. Widmer was a passionate follower of Igor Stravinsky and Belà Bartók. Walter Smetak, who was born in Zurich, taught Zé violin, cello and the building of his own instruments, which were sometimes transformed from typewriters, blenders and water conduits. It was these peculiar, experimental instruments which would later become the trademark of Tom Zé's music. Hans - Joachim Koellreutter, a native of Freiburg, Germany, and the founder of the open musical seminars at the university, introduced him to the atonal theories of Arnold Schöenberg.
Tom Zé became very interested in atonality, which was always part of the music of the Northeast. Musicians in this region always seem to play sodesafinado - out of tune. Zé also developed a strong interest in the organization of measures, sometimes placing them in a very logical, symmetrical way (such as mirroring them in the middle of the composition), and sometimes in a disorganized, illogical way, depending on how he liked them.
Today, Tom Zé describes his music as a mixture of Schöenberg, Beethoven, and Jackson do Pandeiro. Pandeiro, a true character from the nearby state of Paraíba, has always been one of Zé's idols. Since youth, Zé has admired him as a magician of rhythms, because he taught people rhythms without them knowing it. It was these rhythms, Tom Zé believes, that helped people in the Northeast endure their hard life, often having only dry manioc and beans to eat. As Zé stresses, Jackson do Pandeiro provided, in the midst of this unbelievable poverty, a backbone for their spirit.
Tom Zé is also a great admirer of Jackson do Pandeiro's way of entertaining people, citing his use of funny language, satirical words and ironic verses, and his use of body language to express emotions. To this day, Tom Zé's performances are stamped by it. One can also detect the influences of the Tropicália movement, to which Zé once belonged. While he was once a creative composing head behind it, that was a long time ago and Tom Zé is always trying to move in new directions.
Tom Zé has lived for many years in the big city of São Paulo, surrounded by concrete, asphalt, skyscrapers, slums and millions of people trying to survive by making a decent living. I personally think this is not so important in context. More importantly for me is how this unusual, exceptional musician is still able to communicate, entertain and address a public with such unusual, exceptional music- at once avant garde and rooted in tradition.
|1. Ogodô, Ano 2000 3:57|
|2. Sem a letra "A" 3:00|
|3. Feira de Santana 2:53|
|4. Sofro de Juventude 3:15|
|5. Cortina 1 1:06 (instrumental)|
|6. Taí 1:05|
|7. Iracema 1:44|
|8. Fliperama 3:04|
|9. O Amor é Velho-Menina 3:08|
|10. Cortina 2 0:25 (instrumental)|
|11. Tatuarambá 2:58|
|12. Jingle do Disco 1:06|
|13. Lua-Gira-Sol 2:32|
|14. Multiplicar-se Única 1:45|
|15. Cortina 4 0:44 (instrumental)|
|16. O Pão Nosso de Cada Mês 2:45|
|17. Amar 3:16|
All music arranged and conducted by Tom Zé
Tom Zé: lead vocals
Eder Sandoli: electric guitar, rhythm and lead acoustic guitar, mandolin, bottles and hand claps
Ronaldo de Carvalho: keyboards, vocals and hand claps
Lauro Léllis: drums, cow-bell, hand claps, pandeiro, bottles
Gilberto Assis: bass, hand claps
Jarbas Mariz: Triangle, shaker, reco-reco, hand claps, mandolin and berimbau
All backing vocals by Marle Oliveira, Edy Oliveira, Jarbas Mariz, Ronaldo de Carvalho except Marle and Edy on "Amar"
Additional vocals on "Jingle do Disco" by David Byrne
Additional bottleneck electric and 12-string acoustic guitars on
"Sem a Letra 'A"' by David Byrne
Additional electric guitar on "Tatuarambá" by Arto Lindsay
Additional bass an "Sem a Letra 'A"' and
"Ogodô, Ano 2000" by Greg Cohen
Additional percussion on "Sem a Letra 'A"' and "O Amor é Velho-Menina" by Cyro Baptista
Artistic consultants: Roberto Maia, Charles Furlan, Milton Belmudes
"Cortina 1", "Cortina 2", "Cortina 3",
and "Cortina 4" written by Dougie Bowne,
Arto Lindsay, Cyro Baptista and Tom Zé.
All songs © 1992 Shake Boom! ASCAP except
"Taí" and "Iracema" © Peer International
Lyrics Reprinted by Permission.
All Rights Reserved.
Produced by Roberto Lazzarine
Additional production and mixing by Arto Lindsay
Recorded by Leandro Oliveira, Marco Beato Paulo
Grassman and Tom Zé
with assistance by Marco Beato, Roberto Lazzarine and Lauro Léllis
Recorded and mixed at In Sonoris Causa Studios,
São Paulo, Brazil
Additional recording and remixing engineered by
Patrick Dillett at Shelter Island Sound, NYC
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk
Lyric and liner note translations by Arto Lindsay and Julio Fischer
Project Coordination by Alan Harris
Cover art by Tom Rubnitz (1956-1992)
Photo of Tom Zé: by Janet Atkinson
Photography: Westlight ® / Backgrounds
Drawings courtesy of Redstone Press
Design by Eric Baker Design Associates, Inc.
Executive Producers: David Byrne and Yale Evelev
Special thanks to Valdemar Szaniecki, João Marcos Cicarelli, Fred Rossi, M.M.P. Produçoes S/C Ltda., Hélcio Luiz, José Luis, Dougie Bowne, Cyro Baptista, Greg Cohen, Brenda Dunlap, Sarah Caplan and Melânia, for her spiritual guidance.
Dedicated to Jackson do Pandeiro, backbone of the
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