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whatmusic.com presents ‘Bossa Maximus’, a trip into deep afro-bossa territory by long-lost singer Carlos Lee!
  • First ever worldwide release!
  • Tracks include afro-bossas on ‘Capoeira de Oxalá’ & ‘Zulu’!
  • Exclusive new liner notes

Check the 30 second clips from the album...

The whatmusic.com interview...

maximum bossa!

We guess that forty years is a long time to remember everything one ever did. Normally when whatmusic.com releases an album we either already know a lot about the artists or can quite easily track them down through the original record label owners, producers, sidemen etc. Even if the artist is no longer living, there’s usually somebody who’s more than happy to fill in details of their lives. However, with Carlos Lee, it was a chance sighting online of this LP for sale secondhand that provoked our curiosity. The record looked interesting and our exclusive relationship with Musidisc Brasil meant that if we liked the album, then reissuing it would be a certainty.

Whilst waiting for the LP to arrive in the post, we started to do some research into Carlos Lee and his ‘Bossa Maximus’ album. Usually, it’s not too difficult to track down details of an artist online, or at least find some info trail that leads to someone who knows something about the subject. But not this time. No problem we thought, we’ll just have to wait for the LP to arrive and check the liner notes. The LP arrived but, like Orlann Divo’s ‘Samba Em Paralelo’, it was one of those Musidisc titles where the back cover only advertised their other easy listening titles – Os Romanticos de Cuba, and so on.

No problem, Nilo Sérgio and Ary at Musidisc will have everything we need. Then we got a call from whatmusic.com’s Brazilian ‘aide de camp’, Durval Ferreira, saying that Musidisc didn’t release any records by Carlos Lee and what’s more they’d never even heard of him! But the record in our hands was incontrovertible proof. After some searching around, the master tapes were found – much to Nilo Sérgio and Ary’s amusement. ‘I’ve been asking around and no one’s ever heard of this guy’, said Durval, despite the fact that one of his own songs, ‘Mensagem’, was featured on the album – which must have meant that he cleared the song for use back in the mid-60s.

The album ‘Bossa Maximus’ sits somewhere between the earliest Jorge Ben albums, with their simplistic rhythms but jazzy Meirelles arrangements, and the emergent ‘canção de protesto’ movement with its ‘primitive’ songs about the struggles of the poor; as typified by Geraldo Vandré, Ruy Guerra and Edu Lobo and their muse Nara Leão.

So let’s let both man and music speak for themselves…

‘Boadeiro’ – A ‘Nordestino’ song with touches of Moacir Santos in the arrangements, this paean to the sad song of the north-eastern ‘cauboi’ features moody woodwinds, trombones and some nice percussive piano. An early example of intellectual ‘canção de protesto’ it’s doubtful whether Carlos Lee was singing from personal experience!

‘Meu Rio’ – More than reminiscent of Menescal’s more famous song ‘Rio’ the song moves into 50s French style vocal before returning to the groove. Carlos sings of the Rio of sea and sand, the early morning sun in this early song from 70s singer songwriter César Costa Filho.

‘Zulu’, the only song in this set by Carlos Lee, opens with congas hymn to ‘Zulu’ who wants to go up the favela to be at peace. Life hurts those who are weak and cannot overcome it. To live life is to struggle against death, but don’t leave your brothers behind, Zulu. This afro-samba theme is reminiscent of Moacir Santos’ great ‘Coisas’.‘Amandou Estou’ features a neat catchy ‘carousel’ organ motif in bossa waltz time that will stick in the listener’s mind and is one the best tracks on the album. The theme and vocal treatment are similar to Jorge Ben’s earliest songs.

‘Cantinguinha’ is a love song – ‘I did everything to forget you but nothing worked, so I wrote this little ‘cantigo’ to tell the world that I’m gonna die of love’. Beautiful piano and flute double the theme.

‘Capoeira de Oxalá’ – a classic from the afro-bossa school – piano and organ duet in this uptempo groover with the organ taking the ‘berimbau’ part followed by a neat solo underpinned by swirling organ. ‘I’m a good son of Oxalá I’m an obá de Xango’.

Side two opens with the aforementioned ‘Mensagem’ from the pen of Durval Ferreira. The ‘message’ in question is that no one will ever forget that girl’s message of love. The basic trio is joined by vibes and guitar on another Jorge Ben soundalike.

‘Suburbio Triste’ is a 50s samba by Newton Chaves with Carlos remembering his lost love and their little ‘nest’ they had in the suburbs – a place you wouldn’t want to live in Rio these days! ‘Have you forgotten everything about me?’, sings Carlos; guitar and flute lead the plaintive melody that prefigures the kind of ballad that Roberto Carlos would sing in the 1970s.

‘Rei Do Kilombo’. This is a real club track. Another afro-samba about the legendary rebel slave king Zumbi das Palmares. Sax leads the big band arrangement then piano solos and horns, with heavy percussion leading the way to the ‘kilombo’.

‘Voce Me Conquistou’ brings back the small group and a classic bossa sound – ‘You’re the present that god gave me’. A neat vibes solo adds to the laid-back atmosphere.

‘Quarta Feira’ and a sleepy vibes and organ intro to Ash Wednesday. ‘Sky so sad, Carnival’s over, I’m alone on the sidewalk, but my baby ‘carnivaled’ and sambaed between the serpents, the columbines, the African camels and transvestites. She sambaed and rejoiced but left me here alone’. A beautiful melancholy ballad.

Tito Madi was a popular singer in the pre-bossa late 50s. His ‘Disseram’ is another song to feature a jazz waltz intro that morphs into 2/4 bossa time. ‘They say that I live a banal life and I suffer just to suffer and love is only a question of smiling on – and that’s all’.

So Carlos Lee, wherever you may be, thanks for leaving us with this single LP tribute to your talents!

Remastered from the original tapes by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master Rio de Janeiro March 2002

Special thanks to Durval Ferreira, Ary and Nilo Sérgio.

© 2002 whatmusic.com
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