Brazilian music is an immediately recognizable genre with a distinct sense of melancholy underlying its beautiful melodies and harmonies. Indeed, the poetic lyrics, the soft edges of the language itself and the particular chordal colorings chosen virtually define that which is "Brazil."
Although this exceedingly attractive music has naturally been picked up by musicians all over the world, getting inside of it when one is not born and raised in that culture, is something that feels well-nigh impossible. Guinga
(born Althier Carlos de Souza Lemos Escobar in 1950) is a guitarist and composer who has recorded a dozen CDs and who is now lauded as one the most important composers in Brazil today. Porto Da Madama
not only justifies all of the critical praise he has gained, but should burnish his star even higher. Consisting of thirteen beautiful songs, including five written by Guinga himself or in partnership with another, Guinga provides solo acoustic guitar accompaniment, arrangements and occasional vocals for four quite different female vocalists: Maria Joao
, Esperanza Spalding
, Maria Pia De Vito
and Monica Salmaso
who each deliver exquisite performances.
Both guitar and voice and closely recorded, creating a strong sense of intimacy and that the performers are playing and singing for you, the listener. Guinga is a superb guitarist and knows how to weave his playing around the vocals, as well as to support them.
There is not much one can do except to bathe in the glowing beauty of the melodies, the voices and the guitar. This music will stop you in your tracks and virtually force you to sit down and let it overtake your senses. A tear here or there will not be out of place as would having your partner close bythe music is that
As an example, this a translation of "Lígia":
I've never dreamed of you, I've never gone to the movies
I don't like samba, I don't go to Ipanema
I don't like rain, I don't like sun
I never called you up, why, if I knew?
I never attemptedand would never darethe sweet nothings
That I learned with you
No, Lígia, Lígia
To go out with you holding hands on a serene afternoon
A cold beer in a bar in Ipanema
Walk along the beach down to Leblon
I've never fallen in love, I'd never be able to marry you
I would suffer such pain inevitably just to lose you in the end
You come close to me with your peculiar ways, and I say yes
But your brown eyes fill me with more fear than a ray of sun
for the story and controversy surrounding this song.
Listen to Porto Da Madama
and enter the heart of Brazil. Beautiful, just beautiful.