Renato Braz: Saudade
(Renato Braz Facebook Page)
2015: Earth Music Productions
Renato Braz: Voice/Guitar, Paul Winter: Soprano Sax
Eugene Friesen: Cello, Paul McCandless: Oboe, English Horn
Gordon Gottlieb: Drums, Don Grusin: Piano
Paul Sullivan: Piano, Eliot Wadopian: Bass
Ivan Lins: Keyboard, Voice, Dori Caymmi: Guitar
Sizão Machado: Bass, Bré: Percussion
Nilson Matta: Bass, Jamey Haddad: Drums
Toninho Ferragutti: Accordion, Nelson Ayres: Piano
Theo de Barros: Guitar, Sergio Brandão: Bass
Café: Percussion, Mario Gil: Acoustic Guitar
Gerson Oikawa: Electric Guitar, Webster Santos: Guitar
Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble: Chorus
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 8, 2016
This CD is, according to the liner notes, based on the Brazilian thematic meaning of “saudade”, a sense of yearning and melancholia of the spirit, for all that encompasses having one’s roots in Brazil. Paul Winter produced this album and also appears on soprano sax. Winter notes that decades ago he was drawn to the classical and cultural Brazilian musical genres, through numerous travels and adventures. Renato Braz, who appears on vocal and occasional acoustic guitar on all 15 tracks, is thought to be, by Mr. Winter, “Brazil’s musical ambassador”, as Oscar Castro-Neves is now gone. Mr. Winter notes that Mr. Braz’ personal family heritage derives from Indian, African, and European cultural roots, making Mr. Braz a “complete” Brazilian. One can see from the expansive list, above, of the album’s instrumental collaborators, that “Saudade” is infused with multiple tones, rhythms, and styles. The liner notes include English translations for all the tracks. Mr. Braz has smooth vocals in a wide range of tonality, with each track individualized by its composer and its own musical arrangement. You will be transported to Rio in the moment.
#6 – Beatriz – Composed by Edu Lobo / Chico Buarque. The musical collaborators here are Mr. Braz on voice, Mr. Ferragutti on accordion, Mr. Ayres on piano, and Mr. Machado on bass. The featured accordion adds exquisite harmonies and interludes to this languid, romantic song. Mr. Braz’ vocals are poignant and endearing, as this song was originally composed for a 1980’s album meant as a soundtrack for a dance show. Piano and bass add understated drama and melody.
#8 – Chora brasileira – Composed by Djalma Tinoco / Fatima Guedes / Rosane Lessa. Mr. Braz notes that he sang this song to his mother, when she traveled to New York for a Winter Solstice Celebration in 2006. The musicians accompanying Mr. Braz’ vocals, which, here, reach the highest range, are Mr. Winter on soprano sax, Mr. McCandless on English horn, Mr. Friesen on cello, Mr. Sullivan on piano, Mr. Brandão on bass, Mr. Gottlieb on drums, and Bré on percussion and effects. The mood is somber, a song about a funeral procession and a woman marching in tears. The sax and horn are subdued but resonant, and cello, bass, drums, and percussion blend in solemn reverence.
#12 – Bambayuque – Composed by Zeca Baleiro. With Mr. Braz doubling on percussion, Mr. Friesen on cello, Mr. Gil on acoustic guitar, Mr. Oikawa on electric guitar, and Bré on percussion, this song has the sultry, bossa nova tempo, the tropical effect of a Brazilian breeze. Mr. Braz again reaches into a wide tonal range, and the two guitars, cello, and percussion blend for a relaxing mood. I especially liked the cello solo in the track’s introductory moments.
#15 – Angola – Composed by Theo de Barros / Paulo César Pinheiro. This live concert bonus track is imbued with the African cultural motif of the “capoeira” tradition of dance and fight. The Pokrovsky Ensemble sings the rhythmic refrain in Yoruba, the language of African slaves who came to the Brazilian shores long ago. Here I discovered the lively Brazilian Samba I was waiting for, with Mr. Braz’ vocals merging with the chorus. Mr. Braz doubles on percussion, with an ensemble of Mr. Winter on sax, Mr. McCandless on oboe, Mr. Friesen on cello, Mr. Sullivan on piano, Mr. Santos on 12-string guitar, Mr. Brandão on bass, Mr. Gottlieb on drums, and Café on percussion. The album ends with vivacious, Brazilian musicality.