Sergio Santos Litoral e Interior Biscoito Fino
The modern history of Brazilian musicor Musica Brasileirawill surely have to be rewritten to include Litoral e Interior, this masterpiece from composer, guitarist and singer, Sergio Santos. Cast on a gigantic canvas where mountains meet the swell and foam of the warm waters of the Atlantic, where the clouds descend in thick and frequent showers on the magnificent countryside, where dancing takes place and celebrates the warmth of the sun and the cool of the moon, the music of this album swirls in song. The vivid colors mingle and often give way to subtle shades and magnificent tonal textures that only Brazilian artistry can conjure up in song. And like a sorcerer, Santos conducts this mistura fina, this fine mixture, like wet paint alive on his earthy canvas, as he brings to life the loves and lives he has led ever since he burst into song with Milton Nascimento years ago.
Litoral e Interior is a collection of vignettes in exquisite song that combines the wonders of an Egberto Gismonti, a Guinga, even a Heitor Villa-Lobos. That is, while its music is so alive the notes and phrases become real personas, with living relationships with the earth on which they walk and cry and laugh, they so within the marvelous structure of song. Guinga's masterpiece, Suite Leopoldinha (Velas, 2000) may be the last time any artist captured this so memorably. But perhaps that is where all comparisons end. Santos' album is ancient and modern. It begins with a maracatu announcing the scope of the journey, defining the limitless horizons of what the artist sees as he casts his mind back and forth, from boyhood to the future. The song unfolds emotionally from behind the accordion of Andre Mehmari, a vivid presence, on piano too, throughout the record.
Santos' journey across his beloved country is recorded largely in song with the concrete imagery of Paulo Cesar Pinheiro's poetry, which describes heartfelt emotions in the laughter and crying of the metaphors of a lifetime. But in "Zabumba," Pinheiro brings the sheer joy of the sound of the drum that creates the shuffling beat in the rhythm of life as it unfolds. Santos also shows himself to be a fine lyricist with masterful poetry in the title track and elsewhere. But it is often the instrumental music and the songs without words that stir the soul and cause the blood to rush and bubble in the veins. This has everything to do with the fine string arrangements and the orchestral intervention in songs such as "Cinema Rio Branco" and "O Sertão Acorda." And flutist Teco Cardoso creates a spectacular, fluttering and soaring atmosphere wherever he is heard, especially on "Ventando na Areia," a soul-stirring, joyful expression in song.
There is also the "small" matter of Sergio Santos as a vocalist, who often breathes life into the lyric with air from his guts and from the depths of his heart, as much as he does in great mouthfuls expelled from his lungs. This gives the words extraordinary power, as evidenced in "Lua e Sol." And just as this story of the waves of life begins with the sensuous dancing on "Litoral e Interior," there is a magnificent climax in "Mar, Montanha e Sertão" that unravels in song, with magical vocals from Monica Salmaso, who inhabits the charactersboth human and inanimatewith such rare power that she is a singular vocal artist whenever a song is sung. The memory of the music on this album echoes vividly in the mind long after the haunting voice of Salmaso brings its magic to a close.
Tracks: Litoral e Interior; O Mar Adormece; Sombrinha Branca; Cinema Rio Branco; Lá Vem Chuva; A Montanha Sonha; Ciranda; Ventando na Areia; Baturía; Zabumba; O Sertão Acorda; Mar, Montanha e Sertão.
Personnel: Sergio Santos: guitar and vocals; Monica Salmaso: vocals (13); Andre Mehmari: piano (1-8, 10-12), accordion (1, 4); Teco Cardoso: flute (1-5, 7, 8, 10), tenor saxophone (7, 10); Fabio Cury: fagote (2, 12); Luca Raele: clarinet (2) Éser Menezes: oboe (6, 12); Jota Moraes: vibraphone (7, 10); Rodolfo Stroeter: bass (1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11); Zeca Assumpção: bass (4, 7, 12); Tutty Moreno: drums (1, 3-8, 10, 12); Marcos Suzano: percussion (11); Orchestra conducted by Andre Mehmari; Luiz Amato: Leader and 1st violin; Esdras Rodrigues: violin; Cesar Augusto Miranda: violin; Gerson Nonato de Sousa: violin; Katia Spassova Ranguelova Costa: violin; Alexandre Xavier de Sousa: violin; Andreas Uhlemann: violin; Marcia Miyuki Fukuda: violin; Andres Lepage: viola; Ricardo Lobo Kubala: viola; Elisa Monteiro: viola; Adriana Holtz: cello; Raiff Dantas Baretto: cello; Regina de Vasconcellos Pinto: cello; Pedro Jorge Gadelha de Oliveira: contrabass; Ney Vasconcelos: contrabass.