My Brazilian albums from Dustygroove arrived. They are superb. It seems Odeon has reissued 45 albums, but I can’t find a listing of them anywhere on the web. The two I have are great, anyway.

Joao Donato: 'Quem e Quem' (CD; Odeon; 1973)
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This is one of the Joao Donato albums I had in my head as being worth looking out for (the other is 'A Bad Donato'). So I jumped at the chance to pick up a CD for $12.99. It's very different from what I expected, but good all the same. Although the back of the CD case states 1968 as the original release date, the opening strains of 'chorou, chorou' make it clear that it's later than that, and the inside confirms that the album is actually from 1973. It's extremely light-sounding, with prominent fender rhodes, bouncy drums, and Joao's gentle vocals. There are some female backing vocals on some tracks, giving tracks like 'Terremoto' a similar feel to that of Marcos Valle's Previsao do Tempo album (in fact, Valle is listed as 'assistant producer' on this album).

'Fim de sonho' is warmer and slightly less bouncy than many of the tracks on the album, and highlight's Donato's voice, which is slightly rougher than Valle's. 'A ra', a classic scat number, is familiar to me from a compilation. It's simple and repetitive, but good all the same.

It's a little goofy, but this is a nice record all the same.

Update: I think I was a bit harsh to call this goofy, actually. There are some goofy tracks, but overall, it's just very beautifully distilled, tender music, with nice instrumentation. The arrangements are pleasantly spare, and the record has grown on me a lot.

Quarteto Em Cy: 'Quarteto Em Cy' (CD; Odeon; 1972)
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This Brasilian reissue from 1972 is quite magnificent, and exactly the kind of healing music that my exhausted ears need today.

The opening track is Chico Buarque's 'Quando o carnaval chegar', and the spectrum of sound is a superb blend of strings, piano, bossa nova guitars and female vocals. There's a delightful introduction, featuring a Claus Ogerman-like string arrangement, before the song gets going. 'Talvez' highlights the piano more, but has the same wonderfully rich production.

'Tudo que voce podia ser', is the only track on here that I've heard previously (on the 'Blue Brazil 2' compilation). It has a hip rhythm, and the vocals give it a spooky air. Later, the rhythm intensifies, accompanied by some cool scat vocals. It took a while for this song to really 'hit' with me, but it definitely has now.

In spite of my use of words like 'delightful' and 'soothing', many of the tracks are actually quite spooky. 'Incelensa' an unsettling song, starting with other-worldly voices that sound like the angels in the library in Wim Wenders's film 'Wings of Desire'.

There are also a few very poppy numbers. 'Underground' is an extremely bouncy, upbeat track. 'Antes da primeira hora', by the same songwriting team of Luis Carlos Sa and Ze Rodrix, is similarly light. 'Cavaalo-ferro,' with its catchy vocal refrain, is probably the best of the more upbeat and poppy numbers.

'Zanga, zangada' and 'Cantoria' are both strong Edu Lobo tracks, the latter of which has the same chords as 'death of a disco dancer' by The Smiths, but sped up.

The final track features the vocals of Dorival Caymmi and prominent berimbau and percussion.

This is a superb album. I never would have found (or afforded) the original, so I'm delighted that Odeon in Brasil have seen fit to release it.

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