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whatmusic.com presents 'Tropical'. One of the rarest Brazilian LPs of all time. For this LP Meirelles expanded his Copa 5 group for tunes by Donald Byrd, Horace Silver & Julian Adderley - a tough take on American Jazz with a Brazilian twist!
  • First ever worldwide release!
  • Features Dom Salvador, Chico Batera & Helcio Milito
  • Tracks include Horace Silver's 'The Gringo'!
  • Exclusive new liner notes
  • Remastered from the original stereo tapes!

Check the 30 second clips from the album...

The whatmusic.com interview...

copa 7 up!

There was a distinct point in the early 60s when the cool laid back swing of the bossa nova evolved into the hard-edged urgent syncopation that became known as samba jazz. Promoted with various names at the time (one of the main appellations being MPM - Musica Popular Moderno) this music came from the second generation of Brazilian musicians to be influenced by Joo Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, who were by now beginning to spread their musical wings. The much-documented birthplace of this transition from cool swing to hard bossa was the Beco das Garrafas, a tiny alley of even tinier bars in Copacabana, many without even a liquor license. But this was where the visiting American musicians would end up after hours, taken there by fans of American jazz who themselves would later have a huge influence on modern American music. People like Sergio Mendes, Luiz Carlos Vinhas, Milton Banana, Dom um Romao, Edison Machado and of course J.T. Meirelles. The musicians they came to see were Herbie Mann, Curtis Fuller, Coleman Hawkins, Jim Hall - pretty much any heavyweight jazz musician from the North. Here an exchange of ideas began which further synthesised the samba into yet a new form, and one which these musicians were keen to distance from the image of rich girls in their Ipanema apartments, gently strumming their acoustic guitars and singing siren songs about the sea, sand and stars. As a result the music became harder, faster, tighter and much more improvised. To the shame of the record companies of the day (who were these young musicians main employers outside the bars and clubs), the worldwide craze for bossa nova in its lowest form meant that this improvisational talent survived on few session recordings at the time.

One of the exceptions is the now legendary Meirelles e Os Copa 5 - O Som (Philips 1964) followed by O Novo Som (Philips) the following year, in which Luiz Carlos Vinhas, now with his own Bossa 3 group, was replaced by a very young Eumir Deodato. Definitively a jazz group playing samba with jazz 'rules', this was a landmark recording of the new music. Of course there are other recordings from the time which show the promise of such young players as Raul (Raulzinho) de Souza, Sergio Mendes, Edison Machado and others but few were as uncompromising in their non commercial approach as the Copa 5. The Copa 3 had originally been Dom Um Romao's own group featuring Luiz Carlos Vinhas on piano. Dom Um then recorded his own legendary LP for an enlarged version of this group and it was here that the incredible arrangements and sophistication of JT Meirelles came into its own, especially on self-penned material such as the much-covered Quintessencia, which also featured on Edison Machado's heavyweight Samba Novo.

As leader Meirelles also helmed the group that added such an incredible sound to the first couple of Jorge Ben LPs - it's his sound you hear on the original Mas Que Nada. From then on Meirelles was much in-demand both as a live player and as a key session player and arranger at the same time as recording obscure titles such as Mancini Tambem Samba (whatmusic.com WMLP-0014). These independent recordings provided Meirelles and his cohorts the all too brief space to expand ever further into improvisation over tight jazzy arrangements. By the late 60s the bossa craze in all its forms was pretty much dead in Brazil. True to type the major labels were resorting to releasing endless LPs by pseudonymous orchestras aimed at the easy listening crowd or the 'youngsters' who wanted to dance to international 'discotheque' music. Most of these LPs were instantly forgettable, but some, like the work of ace drummer Wilson das Neves were always interesting, even if they did contain weird covers of Mary Hopkins tunes or Beatles music in march time.

This is where the LP Tropical fits in. From the Calendar Girl cover image, to the flagrant misspelling of Meirelle's own name and the lack of musicians credits, EMI's London imprint was obviously aiming Tropical squarely at the easy listening market. Step up to the challenge Mr Meirelles. Given the chance to record with an expanded line up (now called the Copa 7 but not to be confused with the 70s funk band of the same name!), Meirelles takes on songs which, although well known standards and Broadway show tunes and the like, are songs associated with his North American heroes, liberally peppered with less obvious original tunes by the likes of Horace Silver, Charles Lloyd and Julian Adderley. Instead of the usual lush and insipid covers Meirelles does the near impossible by taking on tunes like On Green Dolphin Street and Taboo and re-presenting them as if they were new works fresh from his own pen.

This version of Horace Silver's The Gringo has long been a bootleg classic with DJs and collectors, touching as it does on the sacred image of the 60s Blue Note sound. Playing only alto flute instead of his usual sax, Meirelles achieves a tone similar to that of Hermeto Paschoal of the same era. Throaty, rasping and urgent, the solos are short but incredibly well conceived and each one hits the spot exactly before returning to the statement of the theme.

Upon release Meirelle's subversion obviously worked - the record sold so badly to its target audience and at the same time was so unhip looking for the jazz crowd, that it became truly one of the rarest Brazilian LPs of the 60s, so much so, that the legendary Brazilian music writer and critic Jose Domingos Raffaelli, (who not only accompanied the birth and blooming of samba jazz but who wrote many of the original liner notes), recently confessed that he had never heard of it!

Ed Motta has said that the only music that American jazz players have ever felt 'threatened' by is the music played by Brazilians such as these. Complicated, intricate but always harmonious and rhythmically accessible, Meirelles and his group go a long way towards explaining that comment.

So, here it is, the LP Tropical, after more than 30 years, back where it belongs in the pantheon of the great and good of samba jazz classics.

J.T. Meirelles: Alto Flute
Maurilio Santos: Trumpet
Juarez Arajo: Tenor Sax
Dom Salvador: Piano
Sergio Barroso: Bass
Robertinho Silva: Drums
Pedro dos Santos: Percussion
Luna: Percussion
Helcio Milito: Percussion
Chico Batera: Percussion
Jorge Arena: Percussion

Special thanks goes to:-
Perna for lending the artwork
Ed Motta for the musicians credits
Jose Domingos Raffaelli for his great stories
Glen de Souza at EMI London & Luiz Garcia at EMI Odeon Brazil without whom we'd never have managed to release this LP!

Praise also to Durval Ferreira (O Gato), Ricardo Garcia @ Magic Master Ryan McCarthy for reconstructing the artwork

2002 whatmusic.com

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