Soundtrack by Egberto Gismonti – “A Penultima Donzela”

In my last blog post of January, 2015, I confessed:

“One of my favorite composers is Egberto Gismonti.  I first became aware of him through his beautiful soundtrack to the film, A Penultima Donzela. However, I can never remember [or find] the names of Gismonti’s pieces that were included in that soundtrack.  (Help me if you know!)

Six months later, after several unsuccessful search sorties, the way to find these pieces suddenly dawned on me.  DOH! I was looking for another video of Gismonti’s on Youtube and found the complete  A Penultima Donzela, raced to the credits, and (faster than you can say the film’s title) I had my long- sought-after compositions: Janela de Ouro, Manequina a Praia, and Parque Laje.  Here the first, from the LP Sonho ’70.

Janela de Ouro (Golden Window)

BTW, I loved the movie.  If you’re interested in reading my  unqualified but enthusiastic review (the internet needs more of these kinds of things, don’t you think?) look here:


Posted in Brazilian Cinema and TV, Music | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Italia x Brasil

Since beginning this blog, I’ve discovered I’m just not into describing music in words.  I just want to play, listen to, and share music.

Today I’d like to share two exciting Italian singers who, along with other projects, like to hang out in my favorite neck of the musical woods.

The first is Francesca Leone.  On her first bossa album “Com Os Violões (With guitars),”  she’s supported by two exceptional guitarists, Guido de Leone and Eddy Palermo, on nylon and electric. They add solo after intriguing solo to some bossa warhorses as well as to several songs not quite as well known here in the US, such as “Você” and this one :

On the same album,she  covers my favorite Cole Porter song:

There are so many gorgeous songs especially “Minha Saudade” by João Donato, and “Estamos Ai” by Maurício Einhorn and  Durval Ferreira, and Leone’s voice is a joy.

One of my favorite composers is Egiberto Gismonti.  I first became aware of him through his beautiful soundtrack to the film, A Penultima Donzela. However, I can never remember the names of Gismonti’s pieces that were included in that soundtrack.  (Help me if you know!) Every once in awhile I research that and the last time I did, I came across this unbelievably beautiful version of Gismonti’s “Agua e Vinho” by Neopolitan singer Brunella Selo. Her voice is…well…just listen.


Posted in Music, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

A Primeira Vez, English translation

In the last post I finished with a practice video of A Primeira Vez by Bide and Armando Marçal from the fan-published João Gilberto Songbook.  Coincidentally, I came upon a computer file this morning that was an almost-finished singable English translation of the song I’d started several months ago. A few little adjustments that seem obvious now and it’s ready to perform (at least I can use it!)  Desculpe alguma coisa, Bide and Marçal!

bide marcal

A primeira vez (English translation)

 Remembering that first time I heard your voice

Happiness seemed for once within my reach

I smiled where once I was sad

Took my guitar, sang and played

Made up song after song

That I could share with no one

Then one day you said goodbye

My guitar refused to play

And my voice in my throat just died away

If I could forget the pain somehow

But my guitar sits silent now

And more each day I realize

I’ll sing no more; all that’s left is to cry…

Here’s João  Gilberto’s beautiful rendition of A Primeira Vez:

João A Primeira Vez


Posted in Bossa, João Gilberto, Music, Portuguese Language, Song Translations | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

João Gilberto Songbook, Lumiar-style

songbookjoogilberto-librodecifrasvol-1-131016054804-phpapp01-thumbnail-4Last year something wonderful happened on the occasion of Joao Gilberto’s 82nd birthday. The blog Bossa Nova Clube and the Japanese guitarist and bossa nova enthusiast Takashi Nakajima teamed up to give us a birthday gift: a songbook presented in the style of the classic Lumiar Songbooks of Almir Chediak. The accurate transcriptions cover Gilberto’s first three solo albums. This labor of love, a kind of love letter to both Gilberto and Chediak, is available as a free download to all students of the mestre.  You can find it here: João Gilberto Livro de cifras Vol 1. 

For an example of one of the arrangements, check out the guitar accompaniment on my video below.  (I think I brought some of Rosa Passos’ arrangement into it as well…)

A Primeira Vez





Posted in Books, Bossa, Guitar, João Gilberto, Music | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Gilberto Gil: Don’t Demonize the Cup

gil smallIn an interview for Spotify Brasil, Gilberto Gil takes the very Taoist viewpoint that nothing is all bad, not even this year’s complicated and controversial World Cup  hosted in Brazil.

Brazilians have always had a love/hate affair with the Cup, from what I understand from my visit there in 2002, which coincided with that year’s Cup held in Korea, and resulted in Brazil’s 5th championship.  One of my friends there described to me the mixed feelings that the focus on futbol inspires. What is a source of national pride, she said, is also a huge distraction from the real issues facing the country.  This has become even more pointed in the last couple years with Brazil being the host country.  Efforts to raise the money needed and ready infrastructure for the games has drawn criticism which ranges from attempts to raise funds from those who can afford it least, to complaints about half-finished (or poorly done) construction projects, to charges of serious abuse of human rights.

In the interview, Gil speaks with affection about his relationship with soccer. As a boy he played the goalie position (“I was pretty bad…my feet weren’t coordinated”) and his first memory about the Cup is hearing the 1950 broadcast on the radio. The announcer was composer Ary Barroso, and Brazil lost. (“I still lived in the interior of (the state of) Bahia, and there was a sense of inexplicable collective sadness.”)

About this year’s Cup :

Spotify: Many have criticized this World Cup in Brazil. Do you think that things could have been conducted differently?

Gil: Yes, but in Brazil we’ve traditionally had difficulties in the relationship between the government and society, in the provision of basic services, in public spending.  These are classic things.  We’re not just discovering them on the eve of the Cup. I don’t demonize the Cup. It’s a moment of relief and affirmation, a mimimally postive moment of expression of our collective possibilities. It is also a way to renew, to innovate, to move Brazil toward the contemporary.  Some positive aspects of the Cup are undeniable.  We need to talk about these as well. And we have to discuss the negatives.  But not everything in life is solely bad.  Everything that’s good is bad, and everything bad has some good.  We need to acknowledge the extent of human suffering. Human life is tragic and terrible. It’s joyful and sad. It’s beautiful and ugly. So’s the World Cup (laughter.)

Although I didn’t expect it (because my main goal was to practice the language) my visit to Brazil in 2002 revolved around the World Cup. Everyone watched the games, no matter the hour.  In Curitiba, friends invited me to a brunch given for a large extended family, and one person’s style of screaming at goals (and missed goals) prompted a discussion of “Psycho.” In Cascavel, 4 of us got up at 3 in the morning and watched the game in our jammies.  And in São Paulo, I watched the last game of the cup in a fancy Sports Club, with the same friend who had expressed her concerns about the how the emphasis on soccer drew attention from social reform.  When Brazil won, we joined thousands of other partiers on the Avenida Paulista for a spontaneous celebration parade, and I got to walk behind a woman who did an amazing samba. Everyone was chanting “Pentacampeão.”

You know I’ll be rooting for a sixth championship. Tomorrow afternoon Brazil plays Croatia…can’t wait!






Posted in World Cup 2014 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Essay on silence, an homage to the art of João Gilberto

ensiao sobre o silencio smallIn his song “Pra Ninguem (For No One) ,” Caetano Veloso presents a list of singers and songs, then states “better than this, only the silence; and better than silence, only João.”

I just became aware of a feature-length documentary made last year for Canal Brasil, Ensaio sobre o silêncio, uma homenagem à arte de João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, directed by Zeca Ferriera and produced by Julio Carvana e Marcelo Pedrazzi.   The film, a meditation on the trajectory of Gilberto’s musical journey,    chronicles the making of the CD “Silence.” In the words of the director Ferreira (posted on the movie’s Facebook page in January):

It was about a year ago that I was invited by my long-time friend Renato Braz to document an encounter in the studio with the musical giants Nailor Proveta (saxophone and clarinet) and Edson José Alves (guitar) to record an album honoring João Gilberto, one of the most important artists of the 2oth century, who shook existing structures and pointed out the way to new and irresistable possibilities. The film is a study of three musicians working, searching, and walking barefoot in João‘s footsteps. 

Há mais ou menos um ano atrás fui convidado pelo meu chapa de velhos caminhos, Renato Braz, a registrar um encontro no estúdio com os gigantes Nailor Proveta e Edson José Alves, na gravação de um disco em homenagem ao João Gilberto, um dos artistas mais importantes dos século XX, que abalou estruturas e apontou caminhos possíveis e irresistíveis. O filme é a observacão de três músicos trabalhando, procurando, caminhando descalços na trilha aberta por João.

Although I’m the perfect target audience for this film involving: a) João Gilberto, b)  the magnificent voice of Renato Braz,  c) learning more about contemporary Brazilian master musicians,  d) the process of musicians working together to create something beautiful and e) gorgeous cinematography, I doubt I’ll be seeing it soon since it was made for Brazilian TV.   (Detect the note of resigned self-pity?) Meanwhile,  here’s the trailer – which from its opening seconds put me in  “the João zone” – and a long excerpt about the trio’s making of  the song “Estate.” Enjoy!

 Ensaio Trailer

Ensaio Estate






Posted in Bossa, Brazilian Cinema and TV, João Gilberto, Music, News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bebel Gilberto’s Instagram greeting to her dad


bebel_gilberto_com_o_pai_joao_gilbertosmallIt was Throwback Thursday for Bebel Gilberto on Instagram last week when she published this photo of herself as a baby with her father, João Gilberto, and the caption “Daddy and me. Love!  Immense saudade!  Thinking of you and counting the days until your birthday.”

Speaking of little Bebel, here’s a song by Os Novos Baianos, who made a pilgrimage 40 years ago to Mexico, where the Gilbertos were living at the time, to visit João.  Bebel was little, and the lyrics are said to have been inspired by her combination of Portuguese, Spanish and baby talk. The music is an homage to her father’s gentle way with guitar, voice and silence.

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>Acabou chorare

Video | Posted on by | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy João Gilberto’s birthday 2014!

At my last post, in January of 2013, I wished my readers a happy New Year. Hope that carried over into 2014. 

Here in the state of Brasillinois, June 10th – João Gilberto’s birthday – is also a holiday. What better way to celebrate that happiest of days than to bring back the blog?  I’ve missed writing it so much that a friend noticed a certain darkness passing across my expression whenever he brought up his own blog! More on that later…

At least the time since then has been productive, and full of positive changes, not the least of which has been doing more performing. More on that later as well.  

I have a couple of timely items and one fabulous one from last year to share with you regarding João’s  birthday. They’ll be in separate posts…stay tuned.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Happy New Year!


Recipe for the New Year

To have an exquisitely beautiful New Year
the color of the rainbow, or the color of your own peace
a New Year that is incomparable to all time lived before,
(perhaps badly lived, or senselessly)

for you to experience a year not just repainted and patched,
but new in the little seeds of possibilites,
new even down to the heart of  the least-perceived things
(beginning from inside)
new, spontaneous, so perfect that no one even notices,
yet it is right there with you as you eat, you walk,
you love, you understand, you work,
you don’t need to drink champagne or anything else
you don’t need to send or receive messages
(does a plant receive messages?
send telegrams?)

You don’t need lists of resolutions
that you’ll file in a drawer later .
You don’t need to cry with regret for the foolishness you did
or believe that ,
beginning in January,
things will change by Hope’s decree,
and all will be
justice between men and nations
freedom that has the smell and taste of morning bread
rights respected,
beginning with the ancient right to live.

To achieve a New Year worth the name,
you, my dear, must earn and deserve it,
must make it new, I know it isn’t easy,
but try, explore, consciously.
It’s inside of you that the New Year
slumbers and waits since forever.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade
(tr. brasillinois)

Photograph: Mary Agnes Chase, Smithsonian Institution

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy 81st Birthday, João Gilberto!

June 10th is one of the most important days of the year in Brasillinois, the birthday of my guitar muse, to whose exquisitely colored chords and quietly passionate vocals I can only aspire.

So you can imagine how strange it is for me to read articles  in the brazilian press about João Gilberto that are followed by comments calling him a bad guitar player, a bad singer, and a weirdo to boot.  I want to say “Is there another João Gilberto?” Because commenter, if you have ears attached to a mind, we cannot be thinking of the same person.

However, if anything excuses those closed ears and minds, it would be the tendency of news stories about Gilberto to focus on his eccentricities rather than the substance of his artistry.

A new book “João Gilberto” will be published tomorrow by Cosac Naify.  Edited by Walter Garcia, it gathers together many previously unavailable writings on Gilberto…early interviews, testimonials by his contemporaries, unpublished photographs, and essays contributed by musicologists and others knowledgeable enough to put his genius into perspective for those of us who can’t articulate our appreciation in musical terms, if not to sway the opinions of the unappreciative.

It will be refreshing to experience a João Gilberto in context and desmystified.  But perhaps he will simply emerge as much the same person that those who love his music find him to be.

Posted in Books, Bossa, João Gilberto, Music, News | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments