Saturday, September 28, 2013

SHM-CD of the Month - "Luiz Bonfá Plays and Sings Bossa Nova"

SHM-CD of the Month
Luiz Bonfá: "Composer of Black Orpheus Plays and Sings Bossa Nova with Lalo Schifrin & Oscar Castro Neves" (Verve)

Produced by Creed Taylor
Basic Tracks Arranged by Luiz Bonfá
Strings & Horns Arranged & Conducted by Lalo Schifrin

Featuring: Luiz Bonfá (acoustic guitar, vocals), Oscar Castro-Neves (acoustic piano & organ), Lalo Schifrin (acoustic piano), Iko Castro-Neves (acoustic bass), Roberto Pontes Dias (drums), Henry Percy Wilcox (electric guitar), Maria Helena Toledo (vocals)

Recorded at A&R Recording Studios, NY, on December 30 & 31, 1962, it was Bonfá's debut album on Verve. Creed Taylor (the artistic director of the label at that time) decided to sign him for Verve (previously, Bonfá had albums released in the USA through Capitol, Atlantic and Epic) soon after having attended the famous "Bossa Nova Concert" at Carnegie Hall. On that historic night of November 21, 1962, Bonfá was the only artist that received a standing ovation in the concert, when he performed "Manhã de Carnaval" twice. Firstly, he played the song (the first bossa nova international hit, thanks to its inclusion on the "Black Orpehus" movie) as an instrumental piece, backed by the Oscar Castro-Neves Quartet, and soon after reprised it with the original Portuguse lyrics, inviting singer Agostinho dos Santos to the stage.

Originally released on Verve (8522) in 1963, this album now re-appers in a SHM-CD release, but once again the label omitts the musician's names, except for Schfrin and Castro-Neves.

The first six tracks (five of them originally included in the Side A of the LP, plus "Domingo à Noite" used as the opening track of side B) were recorded in a single 6-hour session on December 30, 1962, with Bonfa playing acoustic guitar and singing backed by Oscar Castro-Neves (piano & organ) Iko Castro-Neves (bass), Roberto Pontes Dias (drums) and, in some tracks like "Vem Só", Henry Percy Wilcox (electric guitar).

Maria Helena Toledo, then Bonfá's wife and most constant lyricist, wrote the lyrics for "Sambalamento", "Tristeza" (not to be missed with the Haroldo Lobo/Niltinho samba) and "Silêncio do Amor", did her first recordings ever on "Tristeza" and "Silêncio do Amor". Many people think that Oscar arranged the basic tracks, but it's not true. "Bonfá himself arranged the small group sides," as stated by Mason Sargent in the original LP liner notes, included on this CD reissue.

In the following morning, on December 31, 1962, Bonfá and the group returned to the A&R studio to cut seven more tracks. The Argentinian genius Lalo Schifrin, not yet a household name, arranged & conducted the orchestra (flutes & strings sections) on "Manhã de Carnaval", "Ilha de Coral" (my personal favorie track, originally composed for the soundtrack of the Italian film "Le Ore Dell'Amore"), "Adeus" (another highlight) and "Bossa Nova Cha Cha". Maria Toledo is heard doing subtle wordless vocal counterlines on the delightful "Domingo à Noite" and the haunting ballad "Adeus", that Bonfá would re-record for the Chesky label in 1999, on the "Non-Stop To Brazil" CD.

Besides his own songs, the always very generous Bonfá also recorded tunes by Oscar Castro-Neves & Luvercy Fiorini ("Chora Tua Tristeza") and Chico Feitosa & Lula Freire ("O Amor Que Acabou", once again with Toledo's voice).

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