Hermeto Pascoal (el-p, fl, vcl), Lelo Nazario (el-p), Toninho Horta (g), Zeca Assumpção (b), Zé Eduardo Nazario (d, perc, vcl), Mauro Senise, Raul Mascarenhas, Nivaldo Ornelas (sax, fl), Aleuda Chaves (vcl)
Reference: FARO 200 CD
Bar code: 5060211503535
There have been few musicians to ever reach the stature of Hermeto Pascoal. A true maestro and a cultural icon, he represents the highest level of musical evolution; as a multi-instrumentalist, as a composer and as an arranger. Once described by Miles Davis as “the most impressive musician in the world”, there is good reason (beyond his Gandalf-like appearance) why he is known as "O Bruxo" (the Wizard).
For the label’s 200th release, Far Out Recordings proudly presents a previously unreleased album by Hermeto Pascoal and his ‘Grupo Vice Versa’: Viajando Com O Som (the lost ’76 Vice Versa Studio Sessions).
Recorded in just two days in 1976, at Rogério Duprat's Vice Versa Studios, São Paulo, the sessions featured Hermeto’s go-to ‘Paulista’ rhythm section of the day: Zé Eduardo Nazario (drums), Zeca Assumpção (bass) and Lelo Nazario (electric piano), as well as saxophonists Mauro Senise, Raul Mascarenhas and Nivaldo Ornelas, guitarist Toninho Horta and vocalist Aleuda Chaves. Hermeto decided he would record with this particular group following a show at Teatro Bandeirantes, during which an almost spiritual musical connection amongst the group was realised. The performance lasted hours on end, without any breaks in playing, and Hermeto saw the potential for his compositions to reach a ‘higher level’ as the music organically moved from structured compositions to ‘freer’ improvisational works.
In the studio, the sound engineer Renato Viola understood that things needed to happen quickly. Almost everything recorded on the first take ended up staying in the final mix. After the mixdown, Lelo Nazario would ask Renato to make him a copy of all the material, from machine to machine. As far as we know, the master tape eventually got lost over time, but Lelo kept his copy in his studio’s archives, where it stayed for over forty years.
With the tape rescued and restored, this release fills a void in time. Recorded at an especially experimental period in Hermeto’s career, it’s a compelling insight into the incredible efforts of this group, who under Hermeto’s revolutionary vision, created a unique musical language which would have a profound influence on countless artists to come.
Nowadays, the 1970s is indeed considered a golden age of Brazilian music, but it’s often forgotten how desperately hard it was for artists to get their music past the military dictatorship’s censorship efforts throughout the decade. Yet in 1976, despite the often musically radical nature of Hermeto Pascoal’s compositions, he was in a typically productive phase of his career. The year before the release of his seminal album Slaves Mass, ‘76 saw Hermeto amass performance credits on Flora Purim’s ‘Open Your Eyes You Can Fly’, OPA’s ‘Goldenwings’ and Cal Tjader’s ‘Amazonas’ to name just a few.
The release of Viajando Com O Som re-writes the already remarkable story of one of the world’s most supernaturally talented musicians, whilst illuminating a truly magical, yet hitherto lost and forgotten, moment of Brazilian musical history.
"Now in his eighties, Brazil's Hermeto Pascoal continues to delight and surprise. Earlier in 2017 he released the universally acclaimed double-length No Mundo Dos Sons, the first album in 15 years to feature his longstanding performing band. Now, a few months later and just in time for the holiday season, Viajando Com o Som: The Lost '76 Vice-Versa Studio Sessions emerges from the ether of history as Far Out's 200th release. These recordings, captured at the peak of Pascoal's most experimental period, are the stuff of Brazilian music legend. The original recording sessions were the result of trying to capture the sound of a hybrid band that featured his "Paulista" rhythm section of the time -- Zé Eduardo Nazario (drums), Zeca Assumpção (bass), and Lelo Nazario (electric piano) -- with saxophonists Mauro Senise, Raul Mascarenhas, and Nivaldo Ornelas; guitarist Toninho Horta; and vocalist Aleuda Chaves, who had made musical magic live in concert at Teatro Bandeirantes. Pascoal booked two days at Rogério Duprat's Vice-Versa Studios in São Paulo with engineer Renato Viola, in an attempt to capture the "spiritual connection" the musicians experienced on tape. These four tunes were recorded live in the studio. This is raw, inspired electric jazz. Most of the first-take material remained in the final mixdown. After completing it, Nazario asked Viola to make him a machine-to-machine copy of the collected sessions. Pascoal's restlessness and prolific activity dictated that he move on to other projects -- the classic Slaves Mass would appear in 1977. The session was shelved and the master eventually lost. However, Nazario retained his copy; it languished on his studio shelves for more than 40 years. Have no fear, though; it has been painstakingly restored, and thoroughly remixed and remastered.
"Dança do Pajé" kicks off with Rhodes piano, electric bass, sparse bells and triangles, and Pascoal's gorgeous flute playing. It is both mystical and pastoral, a long intro for what's to come in six minutes when a drum and piano vamp heads squarely into jazz-funk. "Mavumvavumpefoco" commences in abstraction before O Bruxo's melody introduces Chaves at her jazz-singing best atop the saxophones, flute, and a bumping bassline. Closer "Casinha Pequenina" is more than 26 minutes long and a virtual suite whose ensemble play and improvisation illustrate how confidently Grupo Vice Versa communicated during their short tenure. Its long, languid harmonic lines eventually morph into a burning modal Brazilian jazz-funk jam with all players (particularly Pascoal and Horta) on stun -- it rivals early Weather Report in kinetic energy and boundless creativity. The grooves are infectious; tight horn and keyboard lines become longer and more exploratory; they wind back on one another as the rhythm section pushes the boundary of the pocket without sacrificing it. Soloists emerge and then slip into the backdrop, suspending all sense of time as the work unfolds, revealing previously unexplored sonic territory. Viajando Com o Som is a gem, a true lost classic in the canon of Brazilian jazz, and evidence of Pascoal's well-deserved reputation as O Bruxo ("The Wizard")."
Thom Jurek -All Music Guide