Brazil - Full Moon 36 - 09/25/99
Marcelo Sandmann and Benito Rodriguez
with Silvia Contursi
Cantos da Palavra
I often think that what makes a song Brazilian goes beyond melody,
instrumentation, and rhythm. There is also that special Brazilian
way, the jeitinho brasileiro, to capture music and make it
distinctly Brazilian. Furthermore, there are lyrics. Yes, words in
Brazilian music are as important as everything else. Take, for
example, Cantos da Palavra, a multifaceted independent release
with the obvious word play in its title and deep, multiple
Cantos da Palavra features the songs of Marcelo Sandmann
and Benito Rodriguez. Unlike what one would expect, Sandmann and
Rodriguez are not professional musicians. Well, at least in the sense
that they make a living as literature professors at Universidade
Federal do Paraná, a southern Brazilian state. Of course, upon
listening to this CD, you will be convinced of the serious musical
proposition made by these two artists. The words, as implied in the
CD title, are the focus here, but to make Cantos even more
astounding, Silvia Contursi lends her beautiful, soulful vocals to
these tracks. The result is a fountain of creativity in Brazilian
popular music. It is really no surprise that Jornal do
Brasil's music critic Tárik de Souza listed Cantos
as a release that "injects rhythmic, melodic, harmonious, and poetic
subtleties." The music is varied and vibrant. The lyrics are intense
Paulo Brandão, member of the group Aquarela Carioca,
arranged and produced the 14 tracks. Besides Sandmann, Rodriguez, and
Contursi, several other musicians contribute to the group, including
Grace Torres, Sidon Silva, Antonio Saraiva, as well as more familiar
names, as is the case of Paulo Malaguti (of Arranco).
Cantos da Palavra is samba, samba-funk (with samplers), frevo,
pop, hip-hop, and more. Very eclectic and yet homogeneous.
The opening track, Cisco (Speck), starts off with a
progressing alliteration enhancing the strong rhythmic and pulsating
beat, an effect compounded by the solid bass line. The words by
themselves could be music without notes. On another track, Samba
Danado (Darn Good Samba), there is a direct reference to
Dorival Caymmi's lyrics "quem não gosta de samba, bom
sujeito não é" (you cannot be a good guy if you do not
like samba). Besides closing the circle between the new and
traditional, these lyrics are like literary cannibalism, lending
themselves to a similar proposition as the Tropicalista movement,
where the incorporation of foreign elements into Brazilian music made
itself present. Here, traditional elements morph with electronic
Then there is www.infolia.com.pc, a cybernetic frevo as I
would describe it. The rhythm is infectious as traditional frevo, but
the words are light years ahead. It's definitely a frevo in the best
Carnaval style, but with a percussive and electronic accompaniment.
As expected, the lyrics are all about cyber terminology.
The title track, Cantos da Palavra (Songs of the Word,
Corners of the Word, Word Pockets, etc.) is an all-acoustic samba
tribute to Brazilian greats: Ernesto Nazareth, Pixinguinha, Cartola,
Ary Barroso, Nelson Cavaquinho, Chiquinha Gonzaga, Carlos Lyra, all
the way to the present. Besides being a music history lesson, it is a
very festive and swinging samba.
Cantos da Palavra expands the Brazilian music horizons
beyond the comfortable geographical zone of Rio de Janeiro - São Paulo.
The music is much more than the notes and words you
will hear. Every time you play this CD, a new meaning will unfold.
Novel, traditional, electronic, acoustic, Brazilian, World - Cantos da Palavra is everything.
Since this is an independent release, you will not likely find it
in stores very easily. You can contact the artists directly by
writing Marcelo Sandmann
or calling (041) 338-4996 in Brazil.
Copyright © 1999 Egídio Leitão