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Brazil (Aquarela Do Brasil)


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This song was written in 1939 by Ary Barroso.

It had an 'English' revision by Bob Russell which is better known.

 

I have an endless fascination for this tune & consider it a true masterpiece.

 

For years I mis-remembered it (after hearing the Muldaur version in the film 'Brazil' by Terry Gillian). It's because it has a shifting structure that never goes where you anticipate.

 

Even the opening line sounds like it should be the 2nd line, and before you can get used to that, it plummets into a minor mode and becomes beautifully dark. The accompaniment is mostly made up of chromatic riffs that defy any musical convention I have (or had) known before. Though since hearing more Cuban & other Latin music, I can now see some continuity. 

 

Brazil never resolves until the 10th line, which is a hell of a long time to keep tension up.

 

The chords, the metre and the phrasing all conspire to confound what to expect. Even the lyrics mirror that to a certain extent.

 

Here are some of the words: (Bob Russell's re-write I think)

 

Brazil, when hearts were entertaining June,
We stood beneath an amber moon
And softly murmured someday soon...
We kissed and clung together

Then - tomorrow was another day
The morning found us miles away
With still a million things to say.
And now, when twilight dims the skies above
Recalling thrills of our love
There's one thing I'm certain of...
Return, I will, to old Brazil.

 

Those words paint a picture, but nothing is solid, everything is implied or open. I also like the way it begins and ends with the title word.

 

Unfortunately, its very hard to find a version that isn't cheezy (Ray Conniff's treatment for example), though even the cheeziest cant fully defeat the attraction of the song.

 

There are of course recordings by artists who dont wear fixed grins. I had high hopes for the duet by Chick Corea and Bela Fleck, but arty examples like theirs dont convey the urgency and enthusiasm (the spirit?) of the song.

 

If you can get past the notion that mine are the ramblings of an old rocker who has lost his way, here are a couple of recordings that are not too bad.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pn5SpcZWeI   Pink Martini

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRz-M30PcEU   Carmen Miranda + Donald Duck (yes really)

 

If this isnt enough, there is also the Kate Bush one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVDOrlugfBI  Kate Bush & Michael Kamen

 

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oh yes. If you really cant bear cheese.

 

here is a solo guitar version by Edigar Montiero of which I am jealous.

 

Edited by Rudi
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