Velha Guarda da Portela - Tudo Azul
PORTELA OLD GUARD IN THE SACRED TERRITORIES OF EMOTION
Monarco, the former fish-seller and odd jobs holder Hildemar Diniz, good hand for any work, was an eight or nine years old child when he joined the Guardians of the Blue and White Eagle of Portela. Only several decades afterwards, when he already was a distinguished composer, he pronounced the phrase that summarizes it all: "Music and poetry adopted me in Oswaldo Cruz and they even let me be their partner". Oswaldo Cruz is the suburb along the railways of the Central do Brasil, Brazil Central Station, where Paulo Benjamim de Oliveira founded the Portela samba school and where the mythical heart of the school lies even until today. This glorious association has been based in Madureira suburb for long ago now, to the point that its heart breaks also there. However, when referring to Portela, Monarco keeps on using the name Oswaldo Cruz. "It is because for me Portela is Oswaldo Cruz", he states. And the interesting fact is that people arrive at that place with an air typical from the interior of the country, so modest and so much forgetting urban resources that, suddenly, they fall into an indefinable emotion, into something spiritual, as if they were touched by the flying movements of the wings of the majestic eagle that Paulo da Portela was. And they see themselves diving in a bizarre but very intense expectation of seeing in the streets next to the small railway station the bloco (Carnival street band) " Baianinhas de Oswaldo Cruz , or the bloco " Quem fala de nós come mosca ", or even the " Vai como pode " one, the three of them being the remote origins of the Portela samba school. Along the non-asphalted streets of an imaginary Oswaldo Cruz, the blocos evolve with their Carnival attractions, the noisy Ms. Esther twisting as porta-bandeira ( the lady that carries the flag in Carnival parades), the masquerades, the points where they play jongo and caxambu (type of samba played with the drums of the same name), the groups of wind and cords instruments, in which even Antenor made the honors of the Carnival with his violin. Alberto Lonato, the young boy who is a passista (one of the main stars in the parade), stands out in the leather cards with his tambourine, everything shining inside this rhythm full of presence and effects. This rhythm is characteristic of Tabajara, the Portela powerful drums and percussion unit. And in front of everyone, guiding the female singers and the virtuous musicians, dances the master, Paulo Benjamim de Oliveira, seducing with his noble elegancy, with busy feet and neck, as he used to say in order to support the use of shoes and ties among the people in Oswaldo Cruz, so that they could move away from the suburban image associated to the poor and to samba dancers and musicians. Paulo leading the bloco and organizing the rodas (group of musicians sat at a round table to play samba) where the cavaquinho (small cord instrument) damages the corta-jaca (kind of samba dance) and points out the ritual of the miudinho (kind of samba music) the hips of the young mulatto woman trembling, the hard and beautiful samba of men creating the parade, the dance and the provocation. Such a beautiful scene that nothing compares to it! In the magical circle of samba, painted in the terreiro (sacred territory for Afro-Brazilian religions) of Oswaldo Cruz by Paulo da Portela, the virtuous musicians and the female singers practice their liturgy. And through the ways of a certain fantasy to frame the history of the Portela, already so full of fantasy itself that people understand Monarco's declaration. When he states that music and poetry adopted him, he refers to the masters of the mandala of samba, to the virtuous musicians who used to sing and dance in the rodas conducted by Paulo Benjamim, to the teachers of the Portela Old Guard Velha Guarda da Portela , which is a fraternization of composers that is the basis of the foundations of the blue and white school of Oswaldo Cruz. He refers to the pioneers; most of them passed away and today live in the orum , the heaven for the black people. But he also means the heroic followers he includes himself among them that support today the ayé (land in Afro-Brazilian dialect), this land of all of us, the daily fight for preservation and for the exercise of the popular culture in its musical expression. Masters and disciples like Paulo da Portela, João da Gente, Manacéa, Ventura, Mijinha, Aniceto, Armando Santos, Alcides Malandro Histórico, Heitor dos Prazeres, Rufino, Chico Santana, Caetano, Alvaiade, Chatim, Mano Ventura, Alberto Lonato, Mano Alvarenga, Candeia, Casquinha, Argemiro, Jair do Cavaquinho, Osmar do Cavaco, Casemiro da Cuíca, David do Pandeiro, Jorge and Lincoln Violão. People so poor in material goods and so rich in inspiration! Authors of masterly sambas but unfairly unknown. The city of Rio de Janeiro and the culture of the country should bow themselves in respect and reverence, as those cavaliers of the order of the eagle of Oswaldo Cruz where the ones that sensitized Marisa Monte's heart, to the point that the virtuous singer and composer got affectionately and artistically involved with the veterans. She brought them with her into her albums and concerts. She became so familiar to them that she was adopted as a favorite daughter. Marisa Monte undertook the task of recovering the musical pieces of the exceptional composers of the Velha Guarda da Portela , who was the objective of her album with the Velha Guarda da Portela named Tudo Azul (all blue). Even if it was carefully and elaborately produced, it took only two months for the CD to get ready one month for the rigorous research and the frequent meetings among the people involved in the project and another month for rehearsing and recording: the work was clearly present inside Marisa. She was mature to collect and she collected. Velha Guarda da Portela; all blue , such a beautiful name refers to the color that symbolizes the school of Oswaldo Cruz-Madureira and to the inedited track composed by Ventura played by Monarco; blue like the river that once passed by the life of Paulinho da Viola. The first record of the voices and the art of the Velha Guarda is " Portela passado de glória ", dated 1970. Marisa rediscovered more than one hundred songs, most of them inedited and, thus, risking disappearance. It was very difficult to select them, to choose jewels among jewels. But Marisa Monte accomplished the mission very well. This CD includes 18 songs with the vignettes. The fact that some songs are inedited and others are unknown provides the album with a documentary quality. Only one is well-known: Mínha vontade , recorded by Beth Carvalho and Lenço, by Paulinho da Viola. All tracks of the CD are played by the people of the Velha Guarda - Monarco, David do Pandeiro, Jair do Cavaquinho, Argemiro, Casquinha, Casemiro da Cuíca, Cabelinho, Guaracy and Serginho Procópio, who is a son of Osmar do Cavaco; and the female singers Doca, Surica, Eunice and Áurea Maria, heirs of the tradition, of the voice mode and the dance steps of ancestors like Vicentina, Hercília, Dora, Ninita, Lurdes and Lara. The special collaborations are so respectful that become almost moving: distinguished artists from the record or the media industry seem to ask for permission to do the back vocals in some tracks. Paulinho da Viola collaborates in Noite que tudo esconde , by Alvaiade and Chico Santana. Cristina Buarque sings in Minha vontade , by Chatim. Zeca Pagodinho in Lenço , by Monarco and Chico Santana. Very discreet, even Marisa opens her beautiful voice just in the track Volta meu amor , by Manacéa and Áurea Maria. An irreproachable work. Listening to this album is traveling along the territories of the emotion and recovering unique moments, like a special touch in a tambourine or an incomparable rhythm of bossa played with cavaquinho . It is to share sublime moments, pointed out by the rich guitar of Paulão, the musical director, the sensitive Paulão who knows so much about everything, or by the very personal pine of Guaracy. And, after all, it is to open sense and sensibility to the music and the poems that once involved the child Hildemar into the charm who made him become the great Monarco da Portela. Today, he is one of the members of the Velha Guarda as well. Marisa Monte's great work with the Velha Guarda is especially generous for us, music lovers and admirers of those ladies and gentlemen that are fathers and mothers of Brazilian samba. With this album, Marisa nourished all of us with the poetry, the different melody and the sophisticated harmonic discoveries of the masters of Oswaldo Cruz; all wrapped into such quality arrangements that made the technical sheet similar to high-level diploma. Marisa Monte, the famous singer of Brazilian Popular Music MPB, who could limit herself at profiting from her fame without worrying at the old genial composers, was determined to make a work that is also an act of courage: she dared to present and to offer to a phonographic market, full with mediocre products a fine flower, the best and more beautiful work on samba and popular music of Rio de Janeiro. However, she did it in an integral way, being sure that this was the right way. "I believe that there are lots of people that think like us. I recorded the album with my music company, an album that I wanted to listen to, that needed to be recorded and I believe there is market for it." The beautiful young lady that is now the porta-bandeira (flag carrier in Carnival parades) of the nobility of the carioca samba nobility whose castles are slum houses along the railway in Oswaldo Cruz and nearby- deserves our homage. Or, at least, our sincere thank-you.
Musical Direction and arrangements Paulão 7 Cordas Executive Direction Leonardo Netto Executive Production (Brazil) Suely Aguiar Recording Technician and Mixer Marcio Gama Recording Assistant Marcio Viana, Gutemberg Roadie Marcio Barros Photos Rodrigo Monte Cover Ataide Neves Scores Paulão 7 Cordas Research and Text Suzana Wekler and Marisa Monte Research Assistant Emílio Domingos Masterized by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master Recorded at Mega Estúdio Rio de Janeiro/ April 99
A true entity of Rio de Janeiro's samba, until 1970 the Velha Guarda da Portela was only a generic denomination given to the oldest members of the samba school, and not to a band. But since the CD "Passado de glórias", conceptualized and produced by Paulinho da Viola, people like Antônio Caetano, Alberto Lonato, Manacéa, João da Gente and Ventura began to offer shows together, singing sambas well-known in Portela but unknown to the large public. This tradition continues today with Monarco, Casquinha, Argemiro and other members. Only those who have talent and carry Portela in their hearts can be a member of the Velha Guarda.
Contato para shows: Paulo Cesar Figueiredo - Tel.: 55 (0xx21) 247-2941
Who is who
A noble representative of Portela's old-fashioned style of playing the tambourine, Argemiro Patrocínio is one of the singers of the current Velha Guarda band. He was born on June 28, 1923, but says he only began to compose sambas after he was 50. Among his sambas we find the hits "A chuva cai" and "Atenda o apelo", both with Casquinha, and both recorded by Beth Carvalho. He decided not to include any of his sambas in "Tudo azul", but he dreams of leaving them well-preserved. "I'll leave them for History, for Eternity".
The youngest of Velha Guarda's "shepherdess" carries samba in her veins: urea Maria de Almeida Andrade is a daughter of Manacéa, a niece of Mijinha, Aniceto and Lincoln, and also a first class composer herself. "Volta meu amor", composed in partnership with her father, is included in "Tudo azul" and has been sung by Marisa Monte in her shows. She only doesn't play any instruments: "My father had no patience to teach me how to play the cavaquinho (small guitar)". She was born on April 1st, 1952, and began to sing with Velha Guarda in 1998.
Casemiro da Cuíca
Casemiro Vieira currently is Velha Guarda's oldest member, and he was born on April 4th, 1919. He belongs to the band for 20 years now, but has been connected with Portela for over 50 years. His style is striking and loyal to the tradition: unlike the younger musicians who prefer using water, he still uses kerosene to wet the piece of cloth he holds in order to play the cuíca. In "Tudo azul", he sings his samba "Tentação" while solo playing his instrument.
A son of a German father and a black mother and born on December 1st, 1922, Otto Enrique Trepte was practically Paulinho da Viola's godfather in Portela, composing the second half of "Recado", the musician's first great hit. Casquinha has started in Velha Guarda playing the surdo and today plays the reco-reco, besides being one of the band's singers. Three of his sambas are found in "Tudo azul": "Vem amor", "Falsas juras" (with Candeia) and "Corri pra ver" (with Chico Santana and Monarco).
David do Pandeiro
David de Araújo does not dwell in false modesty: "I'm a history of tambourine at samba schools". And he is. He was a pioneer in the use of juggling and choreography during a parade and, in the Sixties, headed a block of 12 tambourine players - quite unusual for the time. He has belonged to some schools before settling in Portela, and has entered the Velha Guarda replacing Alberto Lonato. He was born on December 28,1934. In "Tudo azul", he sings one of the songs he created with Candeia, "Vai saudade".
A Velha Guarda singer since the Seventies and a Portela shepherdess for many decades, Jilçária Cruz Costa, Aunt Doca, is also known for the traditional samba gatherings she organizes every Sunday. She was born on December 20, 1932, and is very loved in Madureira and Oswaldo Cruz.
Eunice Fernandes da Silva has celebrated 25 years with the Velha Guarda, but she is in Portela practically since she was born, on May 16, 1920. She is one of Portela's greatest symbols and she says that, in spite of the fatigue, she still feels a great pleasure in stepping up onto a stage to sing, highlighting that Velha Guarda has had the opportunity to tour in France and Italy.
A childhood friend of Martinho da Vila, Guaracy de Castro has begun to play the guitar in Boca do Mato, a Rio de Janeiro suburb, and has arrived at Portela through Osmar do Cavaco, Serginho Procópio's father, where he began to compose with Candeia and other samba musicians. He joined Velha Guarda six years ago, replacing Jorge. He was born on March 5, 1939 and many of his songs have been recorded.
Jair do Cavaquinho
Born on March 26, 1920, Jair de Araújo Costa was one of the first Portela's young "trainees", and today he is one of the last living witness of the school's founding. He was a member of famous groups, such as the Cinco Crioulos and A Voz do Morro, and he joined the Velha Guarda during the Nineties, replacing Manacéa. In spite of his name, today he plays tambourine in the shows, but played the cavaquinho (small guitar) in four of "Tudo azul"'s tracks, including his "Eu te quero", a pearl he created with Colombo.
Hildmar Diniz was only 37 when he was invited to join the Velha Guarda, since his samba "Passado de glórias" was going to give the name to the band's first CD. This was in 1970, and from there on Monarco has been consolidating his career as a singer and composer ("Amor verdadeiro", "Vai vadiar"...), but has never left the Velha Guarda, where he plays the tambourine and is the main vocal. "I like to be with them, it makes me happy", he says. He was born on August 17, 1933 and three of his sambas are found in "Tudo azul", including the classic "Lenço".
Sérgio Procópio da Silva is Velha Guarda's youngster. He was born on December 5th, 1976 and joined the band last year after the death of his father, Osmar do Cavaco. From his father he inherited the talent for playing the small guitar and the passion for Portela's traditional sambas, what makes him feel like an old-timer. Among others, he has played with Zeca Pagodinho and Dona Ivone Lara.
Iranete Ferreira Barcelos was born on November 17, 1940 and raised in Madureira. She has been in Portela for 45 now and is a Velha Guarda member since 1981. She is married to Casquinha, and the band usually meet for rehearsals and lunch in her house. In this same nice villa in Madureira she holds samba gatherings every Saturday. Surica is now concluding her first solo CD.