A Malian's Musings about Music and Mali…
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“Corcovado” by Joao Gilberto / Stan Getz / Astrud Gilberto

Putting the magic of the music itself aside, Corcovado is a classic by default when you read the production credits.  The song boasts no less than four pioneers of the genre on the same record: Astrud Gilberto on the vocals, Stan Getz on the saxophone, Jobim on the piano and Joao Gilberto on the guitar and vocals.   This was originally recorded and released in 1964 on probably the greatest bossa nova album ever: “Getz/Gilberto”.

The lyrics are in both Portuguese and English with Astrud providing an English intro to the song, and Joao continuing in Portuguese from then on.  You can sense a slight hesitation in the way Astrud sings in English, but the beauty of her voice overshadows any imperfections in her pronunciation:

Quiet nights of quiet stars,

Quiet chords from my guitar,

Floating on the silence that surrounds us,

Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams,

Quiet walks by quiet streams,

And a window that looks out on Corcovado,

Oh! How I lovely……..

Stan Getz’ melodies on the saxophone evoke a bittersweet longing experienced by someone who is reminiscing about good times spent in his favorite place on earth.  In this case, he is referring to the mountain that towers over Rio de Janeiro: “Corcovado”.

This is one of those songs that stands out in so many ways, that you love it more with every listen.  

Take your time with it…

Title: Corcovado/ Artist: Stan Getz/J. Gilberto/A. Gilberto/ Album: Getz/Gilberto (1964)

“Ha Dias” by Luca Mundaca

Luca Mundaca built a bridge between indigenous Brazilian sounds, jazz and folk.  I guess that gives her the right to zoom back and forth between the three without any sort of restriction.  To be clear, this is a statement of fact and not a complaint.

In fact I have been listening to “Ha Dias” for years now and I still can’t find fault with it: No vocal lapses, no missteps on the drums and not a single misplaced note on her guitar.  Luca Mundaca is successful in creating the illusion that her performance is unrehearsed, organic, almost spontaneous.  

There is a certain clarity about this song I’ve never been able to define.  I’m guessing it’s probably better that way.

Title: Ha Dias /Artist: Luca Mundaca / Album: Day by Day (2005)

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“Voce Vai Ver” by Joao Gilberto

Joao Gilberto

Bossa is often described as music that “fills the heart”.  On Voce Vai Ver, Joao Gilberto is able to undertake this task armed with just his voice and a guitar.  In fact he does so on the entire Voz e Violao album, although this is by no means a surprising feat from an artist with a catalog that’s littered with “classics”.

You don’t need to understand a single word of Portuguese to figure out that this song is about heartbreak.  The pain is apparent in Joao’s tone and expressed in every guitar lick.  The lyrics tell a tale of passion, unrequited love and eventually deep regret: the classic romantic tragedy.

Title: Voce Vai Ver / Artist: Joao Gilberto /Album: Joao Voz e Violao, 2000

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“Tanto Tempo” by Bebel Gilberto

“Tanto Tempo” is about living in the moment without the need to rationalize or question anything.  It’s about recklessly immersing yourself in the “now”, which is the ultimate acknowledgement that it is all there is.

Every day is good day.

Title: Tanto Tempo /Artist: Bebel Gilberto /Album: Tanto Tempo, 2000

“Berekere” by Geraldo Azevedo

Forro is folk Brazilian music that originates from the Northeastern part of the country. It is extremely rhythmic and a permanent fixture at parties. Forró lyrics are usually about love and romance, passion, jealousy, and the longing or homesickness (Saudade) that was often experienced during migrations in search of work by people from that region.

Geraldo Azevedo is considered a pioneer in the genre and has been very popular since the 1970s. I came across “Berekeke” in 2000 while snooping around a friend’s music folders on his computer. I’ve been a fan ever since.
With the acoustic guitar being my favorite instrument, Berekeke really hits home for me. The song involves multiple guitars that interact to create a beautiful “mess” in terms of melodies, while keeping traditional samba rhythms with the percussion.

Title: Berekeke
Artist: Geraldo Azevedo
Album: Berekeke, 1995

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