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Imagine if the MJQ had been born in Brasil and crossed with the Tamba Trio sound? A collectors' legend this LP features a vibes led group on the jazzier side of bossa! Tracks include 'Sambossa', 'My Manne Shelly', 'Estamos Ai', 'Blues For Mother'
  • with legendary drummer portinho
  • includes up tempo tracks 'sambossa' & 'voce'
  • exclusive new liner notes by breno sauer

Check the 30 second clips from the album...

The whatmusic.com interview...

I come from a musical family from Porto Alegre, in the very south of Brasil. My father and three brothers, all of them were musicians - drummers, guitarists and accordionists. I began playing all three instruments, but I ended up deciding to play the accordion myself.

I started out professionally by playing Musica Regional. If you don't know exactly what Regional is, it's a type of group made up of two guitars, cavaquinho, accordion, flute and pandeiro and they used to accompany the calouros, as the new crop of singers were called, on the Radio.

After playing the accordion for some years I began to listen to an American group, the Art Van Damme Quintet. I was totally influenced by that sound and so I formed my first group with the exact same line up - electric guitar, vibraphone, bass, drums and accordion.

Like I said, my first professional instrument was the accordion, but because of a heart problem, I lamentably had to give it up. That was when I started to play the vibraphone, which I played for many years. I only gave the vibes up in 1967 when the quartet broke up and there was no pianist to give me the necessary base for my vibes playing, so I was obliged to start playing piano, which is the instrument I've played until today!

My first recordings were for the Columbia do Brasil label - Breno Sauer Quinteto, Viva O Samba and Viva O Ritmo. Then I recorded for RGE - Sambabessa and Agostinho, Sempre Agostinho which we recorded accompanying the singer Agostinho dos Santos.

From there on we had a new formation, the Breno Sauer Quarteto, which dispensed with the accordion and was very much influenced by the Modern Jazz Quartet. This line up was the one we recorded in Rio for Musidisc - 4 Na Bossa in 1965 followed by 4 No Sucesso in 1966. Later, in Mexico, but with the same group, we recorded with Leny Andrade, Pery Ribeiro and the great flautist Altamiro Carrilho.

People talk about the musical movement in Porto Alegre in the early 60s, Manfredo Fest, Primo Jr, Elis Regina, but I don't know about that... in reality everyone already had to go north to Rio and São Paulo.

It wasn't necessary to actually move to Rio to be successful, but at that time there was a whole thing going on; the Rio-São Paulo connection. Well, Rio could launch a new artist's career but São Paulo was where you made money! Certainly, though, this to and fro between Rio-São Paulo helped musicians to be prepared for the big move north - to the USA and to Mexico. Rio and São Paulo were really the reference point for Brasilian music outside of Brasil.

In 1967 the opportunity arose for my group to tour Mexico, along with Primo Jr. and we ended up staying there for five years, playing as the Breno Sauer Quarteto, but eventually both the pianist and bassist went home to Brasil. João Gilberto was already there recording in Mexico City, doing shows and stuff but not actually living there. Carlos Lyra was also there when we arrived and there had been talk of us doing his play Pobre Menina Rica, but Carlinhos went home to Brasil before that could happen. The Tamba Trio were also in Mexico for two periods, once with my great friend Luiz Eça and secondly with the maestro Laércio de Freitas at the piano. Incidentally, my daughter Andrea had a doll at the time with really long legs that she called Laércia after him, she thought he was great!

After travelling extensively throughout Mexico and the Northwestern USA, our drummer Portinho decided to try his luck in the big city and moved to New York. All this time I was travelling with my family, [one daughter from my first marriage, my wife Neusa who still sings with me, and our daughter Andrea], and by 1974 we ended up in Chicago. We settled there because it really was time that the kids went to school and stuff... and here we are until today.

Once in Chicago, I started a new group and began to play a lot - this time with American musicians, and some very good ones, too. The first Chicago group was really international - Ron De War [ts, American]; Akio Sasajima [g,Japanese]; Paulinho Garcia [b, Brasilian]; Phil Gratteau [ds, American], Neusa Sauer [vox, Brasilian]; Roberto Sanchez [cga, Cuban] and myself on piano. However, this group didn't really have the identity or the sound - I went through a lot of drummers. I even brought them from Brasil. Here, in the States, I found it very difficult rhythmically, you know, the brasilian suingue. Finally, I got to point where I found the sound that I wanted and that was the band you will have heard.

In Chicago we recorded another four independent albums this time with a similar line up - trumpet, sax, piano, bass, drums, percussion and a vocalist with the initial name of Made in Brasil. This all came about when we decided to go into a studio here in Chicago to record a direct-cut session, a premixed live recording, just for us to hear how the group flowed together, you know, if there were any defects we needed to iron out and stuff. And this served as a demo for us. At the time we were playing under the name Made in Brasil. Anyway, the owner of the studio loved the sound of that band so much that he got in touch with PAUSA Records, sold them the demo and they released the record on the spot - just like that! And there we were, afraid to say anything that would make us look dumb, so we just went along with it, kept our mouths shut and let the record come out. At this point Victor Meshkovsky appeared on the scene and it turned out that he had a group with the same name, Made in Brasil - only this name had been registered by him! As a result of this we changed our name to Som Brasil - this time registering our name and keeping quiet about the Made in Brasil thing! That really was a painful time - muito painful...

With Som Brasil I also changed the format of the group once more. I had David Urban, then Art Davis [tp]; Peter O'Neill or Jim Galereto [ts, ss, fl]; Paulinho Garcia, then Kurt Bley [b]; Luiz Ewerling [ds]; Neusa [vox] and myself on piano. With this line up I wanted to approach the sound of the Jazz Messengers, but playing Brasilian music. The band spent a number of years playing what I think was some really excellent music.

In terms of what I'm doing today, I was never really into Musica Gaùcha, [that is music from the south of Brasil near the Argentine/Uruguayan borders] but I certainly never felt any the less gaùcho for that! But two or three years ago, here in Chicago, we started getting a big demand for musicians to accompany dancers - tango etc and singers as well. Because I'm a gaùcho from Porto Alegre I know this music very well, especially if you're talking about the more interesting side of it - Astor Piazzolla, Marianito Mores and those guys. However, our move towards this kind of music is a result of market forces...

I do have many fond and funny memories of recording 4 Na Bossa. At that time a lot of the best studios in Brasil had started to record with more modern equipment and utilising new techniques for recording - overdubs and things like that, and with more channels to record through the desk. This was obviously a great help to artists who could go back over mistakes and use the infamous 'punch in' and 'punch out' facility to drop into the recording. Well, we had so much fun with that button, I can tell you! The thing was, none of us were really singers so we had these constant fights as to who was in or out of tune and who needed those 'punch-ins' but it was worth all the effort.

I think what you guys at whatmusic.com are doing is very smart - releasing albums like 4 Na Bossa after 35 years. In fact, I should mention that each time I'm in Brasil I get calls to re-issue all of my records but as I'm rarely there and been away for so many years it's not been easy to organise. I think you'll do well with this record!

I think for me the future of [good] Brasilian music is... well, I'd like to have something good to say about it but it's probably best to wait some more and keep our fingers crossed!

Breno Sauer - Chicago 4th September 2001

Special thanks to Breno Sauer, Andrea Sauer, Durval Ferreira, Nilo Sergio, Ary, Bob @ TangoNadaMas & Charles Gavin.

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