Friday, May 1, 2009

Reissue of the Month - "Luiz Henrique: Listen To Me"

CD of the Day
Luiz Henrique: "Listen to Me" (Fontana) 2009

Reissued a couple of weeks ago (April 22) in Japan, by Universal LLC, "Listen to Me" was Luiz Henrique Rosa's first solo album in the USA, after his 1963 LP for Philips in Brazil and the landmark meeting with Oscar Brown, Jr. on "Finding a New Friend" (1966). Originally recorded in 1967 and released in 1968, produced by Hal Mooney in NY by the Fontana label, "Listen To Me" is also in many ways another collaboration between Oscar (1926-2005) & Luiz (1938-1985), who had paired in the original cast of the musical "Joy 66" in Chicago and resumed their association co-writing four songs to "Listen To Me": "Alicinha" (dedicated to Henrique's daughter), the bossa-waltz "If You Want To Be A Lover," the marcha-rancho "Summer Song" (on which Romao steals the show) and the title track, the only guitar/vocal number on the album. The two friends also co-wrote the English lyrics to "Berimbau" (although Ray Gilbert had already provided a different set of lyrics for a recording by the Girls From Bahia, aka Quarteto Em Cy), "Açucena," "In My Automobile" and even Assis Valente's 1932 "Song of Santa Claus," better known as "Boas Festas" or "Recadinho de Papai Noel." So, actually they worked together in eight of the 12 tracks!

Most of the tunes feature the rhythm section consisting of Luiz on acoustic guitar & vocals, Dom Um Romão on drums & percussion (he is pictured in the back cover playing a berimbau and mispelled as Dom-Um Ramao...) and the uncredited Don Payne on bass. Sivuca, the accordion genius, oddly didn't play his main instrument, but wrote the arrangements for flutes, trombones & strings (!) and conducted the orchestra, going from tasty sparse writing (like on Romão's "Sambão", adding an unexpected celeste with great effect) to dramatically opulent scores, even using symphonic tympani on the bossa-ballad "I Was Afraid".

Dom Um Romão, the rhythmic strength throughout the session, also contributed the song "Sambão," recorded here for the first time with lyrics (there's an instrumental version by Walter Wanderley) and re-recorded by Romão on his 2001 album for JSR, "Lake of Perseverance," produced by a certain Mr. Arnaldo DeSouteiro of "devil may care" attitude. Curiously, "Sambão" became a HUGE dancefloor hit all over Europe, received several dance remixes by some of the world's most famous DJs (Ibadan's Jerome Syndenham and LTJ-Xperience aka Luca Trevisi among them) and was also included on Dom Um's best-selling remix project, "Nu Jazz Meets Brazil" in 2002. Anyway, it's a joy to listen to it on Henrique's voice. And the definitive proof that Luiz Henrique is the missing link between Joao Gilberto and Jorge Ben!

This Asian CD reissue of "Listen To Me" preserves the original liner notes by Kent Foreman, and adds a new text printed only in Japanese. My personal favorite tracks: "Sambao," "Alicinha," "In My Automobile," "Song of Santa Claus" and "Listen To Me." Enjoy!

No comments: