We’re in the Amazon, at the heart of Brazil’s exceptionally rich Great Musical Forest. Its powerful roots are intertwined: the identities of the native peoples, the popular dances brought by Westerners, and the rhythms of African slaves. Strong endemic trees have grown here on this ultra fertile soil: the samba, often surrounded by batucada ferns; the elegant bossa nova, a local hybrid of the North American jazz tree; and the ardent MPB and tropicália with their endless ramifications... In the undergrowth, many cuttings have developed successfully: disco, new wave, hip hop or carioca-colored techno... anything can thrive here.
In the middle there is a small clearing which houses a wooden hut, a refuge: Clube da Esquina. There, they planted the Beatles, and the seeds eventually produced beautiful flowers: rock, pop and folk are part of the production from the ’70s that has nothing to be ashamed of in comparison to North American or European forests.
This is where Milton Nascimento with the Borges brothers, Lo and Marco, meet, under the darkened sky of dictatorship. Between them and their pack features Beto Guedes, Márcio Borges, Toninho Horta, Fernando Brant, Ronaldo Bastos, Flávio Venturini and Wagner Tiso, 14 Bis... They are the backbone of this playlist, the most fruitful and clear representations of this pop and folk sound.
The playlist’s opening song “Clube Da Esquina N°2” was written in 1972 by Milton as an instrumental piece, and Lo Borges’ 1979 version with lyrics closes the list. You’ll find the Latin-American hymn that playboy Chico Buarque interprets so gracefully, as well as the hits “Um Gosta De Sol”, “Nuvem Cigana” and “Um Girassol”…
But there are also many other songs that were written for one of the two Clube Da Esquina albums that have been covered by these artists over the years, as though these tracks act as a guideline. This is the case with “O Cançador”, “Bola De Mei”, “Passagem Da Janela”, “Coraçao De Estudante”. And then there are the more obvious songs such as “Para Lennon E McCartney” and the cover of “Norwegian Wood” which both speak volumes.
The hits of Raul Seixas and the sweet sounds of Fagner are woven throughout the playlist. Both artists are very popular in Brazil but have not yet broken through into Europe. There are stories of exile, such as that of Caetano who – along with Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa – fled to England to escape the military. And then Jorge Ben’s “Errare Humanum Est”. Another legend! If the album Clube Da Esquina is Abbey Road then A Tabua De Esmeralda is Sergent Pepper!
It was fifty years ago today. Milton & Lo taught the band to play…