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whatmusic.com presents ‘Sambossa’, a rare early bossa trio date from pianist Primo Jr.!
  • First ever worldwide release!
  • Tracks include the classics ‘Nanã’, ‘Sambossa’ & ‘Arrastão’!
  • Remastered from original tapes!
  • Exclusive new liner notes

Check the 30 second clips from the album...

The whatmusic.com interview...


The story of instrumental music in Brazil in the 1960s is indelibly linked with that of the bossa trios. Always piano-led, these acoustic trios developed from a hotbed of ferment in the universities and nightclubs of Rio and São Paulo from 1960 until the introduction of elements such as electric bass and organs by around 1966 terminally changed the classic trio sound. During this time the success of the main exponents of the genre – all Rio-based – were the Tamba Trio (named after drummer/percussionist Helcio Milito’s own invention – the ‘tamba’ drum), the Copa Trio led by ace drummer Dom Um and the Bossa Três led by that dandy-about-town Luiz Carlos Vinhas. Many of these trios were based originally on the line-up used to record with João Gilberto (the Walter Wanderley Trio) on his 1958 debut LP. According to Bebeto, bassist and reeds player from Tamba Trio, his group was formed originally as a backing band for trombonist Raul de Barros and enjoyed playing together so much that the trio format stuck. Many of the trios used the new recording techniques such as ‘punch-in’ and 2-track recording to augment the limitations of the piano, bass & drums setup. The Tamba Trio used Bebeto’s obvious skills on flute and sax as well as vocals, and most of the trios developed a style whereby they might not actually sing but would harmonise vocal passages in the choruses of the better known songs they were playing. According to Bebeto, the Tamba Trio included a lot more vocals in their live sets than on the recordings, which must have been some feat!

In an obvious move by the record companies to cash in on the trio phenomenon, many of the trios were employed as backing bands for the emerging singers of the day. Meirelles’ Copa 3 was expanded to 5 to back Jorge Ben on his first three Philips LPs and the Bossa Três backed 50s crooner Maysa in her bid for bossa nova stardom. Other famous trios in Rio who recorded with singers included the Milton Banana Trio, Antonio Adolfo’s Trio 3-D with Eliane Pittman and Tenório Jr. Trio with Leny Andrade.

Although stylistically based on such American groups as the Three Sounds, the influences of the piano trios were often anachronistic – more Nat King Cole than McCoy Tyner. But the inherent modernism of the new wave in Brazilian music meant that these trios (and certainly their pianists) often had a strong influence in return on their American heroes. On his early MPS albums, for example, Oscar Peterson draws heavily on the bossa trio style.

Like all musical movements the originators and leaders were inevitably followed by the followers and the imitators. But that didn’t meant that these trios were all derivative. Some of the musicians, like pianist Salvador Filho (later to become Dom Salvador) were just too young to have been playing professionally (or even semi-professionally) back in 61 in the Beco Das Garrafas, but his Rio 65 and Salvador Trios (also released on whatmusic.com) were both highly successful.

After the Rio-based trios came a massive wave of new groups from Sao Paulo, aided by the daily TV broadcasts such as those broadcast live from the Teatro Paramount that showcased the ‘new’ music. Cesar Mariano’s Sambalanço Trio, Jongo Trio (later with Mariano to become Som 3), Adilson Godoy’s Zimbo Trio, his brother Amilson’s Bossa Jazz Trio, the Pedrinho Mattar Trio, Ely Arcoverde Trio, Sambrasa Trio, Sansa Trio – the list is almost endless. Some of the trios featured future MPB legends such as Ivan Lins, another featured Marcos Valle and Nelson Motta and there was even a trio of albino multi-instrumentalists featuring Sivuca and Hermeto Pascoal!

From Brazil’s other cities came ever more trios. From Porto Alegre in the south there was Manfredo Fest Trio & Primo Trio.

Primo Jr. recorded two LPs with the classic piano/bass/drums format for Musidisc. This album, ‘Sambossa’, is the second of the two titles and features a good number of those tunes that are certain to make a bossa trio album a classic.

Side one opens with Edu Lobo’s Festival winner ‘Arrastão’, a song given English lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman and later recorded by Sergio Mendes & Brasil 77 as ‘For Me’. The impressive thing about the bossa jazz trios of this time was their leader’s abilities to reinvent ways to arrange those same well-known songs that all the other trios were also recording.

‘Primavera’ is an early Marcos Valle number tastefully rendered here at a swinging mid-tempo. ‘Vai No Balanço’ by Luiz Bittencourt, son of Jacob do Bandolim, is from the golden era of samba-canção, a subtle and melancholy tune redolent of lovers’ quarrels.

‘Chuva’, also known as ‘Rain’, is by Durval Ferreira and Pedro Camargo. A classic of early 60s bossa and covered by many in Brazil and the USA. ‘Do Jeito Que a Gente Quer’ is an oddity here. The song swings with force and has more than a touch of the ‘influencia do jazz’ that Carlos Lyra bemoaned in his eponymous song. Not too many Ed Lincoln compositions made it onto bossa nova albums, principally because Lincoln and his ‘Zona Norte’ pals with their ‘sambalanço’ were diametrically opposed to the winsome ‘Zona Sul’ airs that often passed for second division bossa in the early 60s. But its inclusion here shows not only Lincoln’s compositional craft but also, with hindsight, how stupid factionism is.

‘Deus Brasileiro’ is another Valle brothers tune. Marcos and Paulo Sergio were the natural bridge between the early bossa elitists and the new bossa-influenced pop emerging in the late 60s. The third Valle brothers song is ‘Preciso Aprender a Ser Só’ and another that received English lyrics during Marcos’ stay Stateside. A true standard in Brazil and one that is still being recorded today, the lyric (when present) has the singer lamenting that he must learn to live alone.

Cult dancefloor number ‘Sambossa’ is from the pen of Musidisc boss Nilo Sérgio and a big hit on whatmusic.com’s previous release, the Breno Sauer Quarteto’s ‘4 na Bossa’ (WMLP-0006). A spare groove tightly played out on cymbals and piano leads into the jazzy chorus that will have the listener tapping in time.

‘Vivo Sonhando’, known as ‘The Dreamer’ on Jobim’s own US recordings, is perhaps one of his most beautiful melodies. More uptempo here than usual, Primo leads the trio through a swift but strong rendition.

‘O Sol Nascerá’ was the song that signalled the wider acceptance of ‘samba de morro’ composer, the legendary Cartola. Although well known by the samba cognoscenti, Cartola only reached national recognition at an advanced age in the mid 60s after Nara Leão started to record his songs along with those of Zé Ketí and João do Vale.

‘Nanã’. What can you say about this extraordinary song? Written for a movie soundtrack by the genius composer and arranger Moacir Santos the words were added later by Mario Telles, brother of singer Silvia. Santos’ signature afrocentricity and timing are both evident here. Moacir Santos spent many years in the US ghostwriting for one Lalo Schifrin (think about it!) and, despite making two albums for Blue Note, has only very recently received the acclaim he deserves in his native Brazil.

‘Minha Namorada’ is by Carlos Lyra, the ‘enemy’ of the jazz influence in bossa nova. Lyra even registered the word ‘sambalanço’ as a trademark for his non-bossa nova (but also non-jazz!) songs, even though the name was claimed by the jazz-infected likes of Ed Lincoln and Jorge Ben. Still, polemics aside, Lyra wrote some great songs and this one, in partnership with poet Vinicius de Moraes, is gorgeous.

All in all, Primo Jr and his trio sound very accomplished and relaxed on record which, as originally recorded in its stereo form, still sounds as fresh today as it did in the mid-60s!

This release is dedicated to the memory of Primo Jr.

Remastered from the original stereo tapes by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master Rio de Janeiro March 2002 with additional mastering by Sean ‘Big P’ Pennycook

Special thanks to Durval Ferreira, Nilo Sérgio & Ary at Musidisc

© 2002 whatmusic.com
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