Saturday, January 9, 2010

CD of the Day - "Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Chants For The Chief"

CD of the Day
Carlos Barbosa-Lima with special guest Thiago de Mello: "Chants For The Chief" (Concord Picante CCD-4489) 1991

Liner Notes by Arnaldo DeSouteiro
Original CD Release Date: December 17, 1991

Recorded at Nola Recording Studios, New York City, NY, September 1991

Chants for the Chief - Music & Lyrics by Gaudencio Thiago de Mello
1. A Chamada dos Ventos/Canção Noturna
(Wind Call/Nocturne) (3:29)
2. Uirapurú do Amazonas
(The Uirapurú of the Amazon) (3:43)
3. Cunhã-Tan do Andirá
(Little Girl from the Andirá River) (2:46)
4. Varando Furos
(Cutting Waters) (2:24)
5. Canto dos Esquecidos/Yara Levou Meu Amor
(Chant of the Forgotton Ones/Yara Took My Love) (6:28)
6. Canto do Missionário
(Chant of the Missionary) (2:38)
7. Ventos do Sertão
(Winds from the Backlands) (2:18)
8. Canto da Alvorada
(Chant of the Sunrise) (3:29)
9. Canto do Verde Amado
(Chant for the Beloved Green) (3:43)
10. Canoa Furada/Canção Noturna/A Chamada dos Ventos - Epílogo
(There is a Hole in My Canoe/Nocturne Song/Wind Call - Epilogue) (3:21)
Bonus Tracks
11. Cajita de Música (Isaias Savio) (2:22)
12. Impressão de Rua (Isaias Savio) (3:17)
13. Sonha Yaya (Isaias Savio) (3:08)
14. Teotecacinte (Thiago de Mello) (3:18)
15. Fantasy on a Hawaiian Lullaby (Byron Yasui) (6:00)
16. Batucada (Isaias Savio) (4:37)

Carlos Barbosa-Lima - Guitar, Producer
John Burk - Production Coordination
Jim Czak - Recording Engineer
Thiago de Mello - Percussion, Vocals, Producer
Arnaldo DeSouteiro - Liner Notes
Phil Edwards - Mixing Engineer
George Horn - Mastering Engineer
Carl Jefferson - Executive Producer
Kent Judkins - Art Direction
John Post - Recording Engineer
Tana Powell - Artwork
Mark Sullivan - Assistant Engineer

Liner Notes by Arnaldo DeSouteiro:

Internationally acclaimed as one of the world's finest guitarists in the contemporary scene, Carlos Barbosa-Lima has carved his brilliant path from a daring artistic posture. Since his early experiences as a professional musician in his native Brazil, where he recorded his first album and gave his first concert at the age of eleven, Barbosa-Lima used his perspective to develop, along with his classical training, a special ability to recreate some of the traditional Brazilian gems of the popular repertoire. Putting aside the unavoidable restrictions imposed by more conservative minds ("I always found the rigid distinction between the classical and the popular ridiculous" he says), Carlos Barbosa-Lima has kept his disposition to challenge labels and break musical boundaries. This attitude is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for the enormous success of his career and for the admiration of his work which comes from all areas of musical expression.

Always trying to expand the repertoire for his instrument, Barbosa-Lima put his unlimited inventiveness to the arduous task of transcribing pieces which have become recognized as historically important today. From Bach to Brubeck, Scarlatti to Joplin, Jobim to Gershwin, Bonfá to Porter, and Debussy to Villa-Lobos, Barbosa-Lima has applied his incomparable mastery to their works.

This has been well documented on a series of quintessential albums, most of them on Concord Records, the label which has given him full support for his creative adventures during the ten years he has been recording with them. His magic touch has been captured on solo albums, as well as on duo projects with the talented Sharon Isbin (with whom he recorded his astonishing "Rhapsody in Blue" (CCD-42012) adaptation for two guitars), and in a swinging three-guitar setting with Laurindo Almeida and Charlie Byrd (CCD-4389).

The most recent example of Barbosa-Lima's quest for challenge is "Chants for the Chief," which finds him in a surprisingly fascinating collaboration with fellow Brazilian composer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist Gaudencio Thiago de Mello. The first time they performed together was at Carnegie Hall's "Guitarstream" Festival in 1985 marking the beginning of the artistic partnership which has culminated in the production of this superb album. Its main theme, Thiago de Mello's "Chants for the Chief" was premiered by Barbosa-Lima and the composer in April, 1991, at St. John Smith Square in London. "I fell in love with these chants the first time I heard them," says the guitarist. "They have a primitive feeling, linked to the basic expression of the human soul."

Since these pieces express some elements of ancient rituals and religious symbolism, Barbosa-Lima and the composer agree that the word "chant" seems more appropriate than "song." The music confirms this, reflecting Thiago de Mello's childhood in the Brazilian Amazon where he grew up listening to indigenous folklore as well as hymns and spirituals brought by the missionaries into that region. These elements - together with the sounds of nature such as the whistling of the wind, the song of the birds, and the roar of the rivers - are reflected in each and every note (and in each and every silence) and are indeed the essence of this work.

The singing guitar and the melodic percussion are totally integrated, but in an unconventional manner. They interact without the constraints of the usual format of guitar soloing over rhythmic accompaniment. They sound as one instrument, along with Thiago's voice which gives a mysterious mood to the performance.

"Chants for the Chief" reveals not only the beauty of the Amazon, but also translates all its secrets, its sadness and the rich cultural heritage of its people. The music touches the listener deeply with its direct appeal, establishing a heart-to-heart connection with its apparently simple melodic lines and captivating structure. Everything is explored with complete control by Barbosa-Lima's sensitive guitar, often using the "space" as a musical element.

As a "percussion orchestrator," Thiago de Mello is gifted with a unique approach - coloring, enhancing and thrusting the guitar forward. This is felt throughout - as much in the evocative moods of "A Chamada dos Ventos" and "Uirapurú do Amazonas" (the latter recorded by Thiago on Paul Winter's Grammy nominated album "Earth, Voices of a Planet"), as in the contagious beat of "Varando Furos," an example of Thiago's architectonic conception of percussion.

There is also a subtle inherent sensuality in the music as shown in these new versions of "Cunhã-Tan do Andirá" and "Ventos do Sertão," previously recorded by Barbosa-Lima as solo guitar pieces on his "Music of the Americas" (CCD-4461) album. On the other hand, "Canto dos Esquecidos" brings out the strong influence of the northeast of Brazil.

Another Thiago de Mello composition, "Teotecacinte," was written during one of his visits to Central America in the 1980s. "Its title is the name of a small town in Nicaragua, which was constantly bombed by the Côntras for many years," explains Thiago. "This song is dedicated to the heroic people of that tiny place and their pursuit of a better life. I tried to get as close as possible to their own rich rhythm called SONNICA - a 3/4 pattern with the accent on the 2nd and 3rd beats."

Barbosa-Lima pays tribute to his master, Isaias Savio (a Uruguyan-born guitar teacher who lived in Brazil) through "Batucada," "Impressão de Rua" (both from the "Cenas Brasileiras" series, written in the early '40s), "Cajita de Musica" and "Sonha Yayá."

"Luiz Bonfá studied with Savio and recommended me to do the same," remembers the guitarist, who had recorded these pieces more than 30 years ago in Brazil. In "Batucada" Thiago applies his creative touch by adding an introduction and a short chant as a coda.

"Fantasy on a Hawaiian Lullaby," written by Byron Yasui, is based on a well-known theme from his native Hawaii - "Pupu Hinu Hinu," by Helen Beamer. "Byron recreates with mastery the slakey-guitar style, with its typical tuning of the 5th string in G and the 6th string in D" says Carlos. "It extends the original theme with a central section using a contrapuntal 4-part harmony. At the end, the lullaby feeling is reinforced by the use of double harmonics."

Showcasing successive examples of how to put virtuosity at the service of musicality, the outstanding Carlos Barbosa-Lima adds one more triumph to his brilliant recording career.

- Arnaldo DeSouteiro, September 1991
(Tribuna da Imprensa - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Cuadernos de Jazz - Spain; International Association of Jazz Educators - USA)

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