Remember how I said yesterday to pay attention to some of the peripheral characters during the Tropicalia documentaries? Well, today I’m going to bring a little bit of light into the first person to push Brazilian music beyond this era. Edu Lobo, on the day of the great festival of Brazilian music where Tropicalia had its coming out party submitted and performed a song for the festival’s songwriting contest. Like Viña del Mar in Chile or the considerably less talented Eurovision, this was the true test of your meddle.
In a contest among all the Tropicalists, and a lot of the old guard guess who won? Seemingly living and making music outside of the realm of reproach from both sides, Edu’s music and the person himself just exuded a certain level of sophistication that was both ahead of its time and earned its respect on its own terms. He didn’t need Tropicalia getups or gimmicks to make his music be memorable. His was the first music you can call post-bossanova and post-MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira). It drew from all the Afro-Brazilian music of the Northeast, the experimentation of Tropicalia, the sway of bossanova, and added its own ingredient the complexity of Miles’ ambient jazz period. This was truly uncharted territory.
During the lost period, in 1969 and 1970, when all the Tropicalists were in exile or releasing music seriously constrained by the dictatorship, Edu was finding ways of pointing the way forward for Brazilian musicians. In 1970, recording in Brazil with Airto Moreira, Hermeto Pascoal, and Quarteto em Cy they laid down all the tracks that came to be in this album “Cantiga de Longe” or “Songs of Longing”. If you know any Miles Davis history you know how influential Airto and Hermeto later came to be, the combination of their percussion and keyboard playing is nearly unparalleled. They could go from experimental to completely traditional at the drop of the hat and had serious roots in modern composition. Together with Edu’s smooth baritone vocals, complex guitar playing, and just massive writing chops they fastened the first clarion call of this new era of Brazilian music. Grounded more in urbanity of the then Brazil this was the album that signaled to all other Brazilian artists where to go from next. You can even hear the influence of it in American music, “Zanzibar” was covered by Earth Wind and Fire, Miles hired Airto to play on “Bitches Brew” and Hermeto on “Live-Evil”.
The more I listen to it the more I love tracks like “Na Feira de Santarem” (you can tell Stereolab looooved this track), “Marta e Romão” (just genuinely uplifting and joyful in a very urbane way), or “Cidade Nova” (this equals the most bittersweet of Joao’s work brilliantly)…I can go on and on about this album but I’ll plagiarize myself for a bit, this is a review I did a long time ago for it:
“Talk about being completely out of step with whatever was going on elsewhere. Edu’s first true crack at distilling where he would take his fans in the future lies here. Make no mistake this is true “smooth” music. For me, where an album like Pretzel Logic can only attain its greatness by mechanically smoothing itself into a stunning chrome sheen…an album like Cantiga de Longe is more like a gorgeous pearl, deriving all its smoothness organically from the forgotten remains of others.
On this album Edu cements this idea of a new Nordeste music by blending pop, jazz, bossa elements with some truly unheard of Brazil-Indio styles. Notes of this kind of blend were hinted at in the work of other people such as in Afro-samba but they lacked just a few more tweaks to make them distinctly forward-thinking. Edu ramps up the modal styling, the African-derivative, and the folk elements to just brilliant levels here. It entirely helps out here that Hermeto Pascoal, Airto Moreira, and a whole slew of other characters play exactly how Edu needed them to. If Miles said “play what’s not there” then Edu ran with it here.”
Definitely, not the last of Edu Lobo you’ll hear from me. More of the golden age continues tomorrow.
World Cup Prediction of the Day:
Australia v. Netherlands: Netherlands (Winner)
Spain v. Chile: Chile (Winner)
Cameroon v. Croatia: Croatia (Winner)