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MPB-4 portrait MPB-4 is a Brazilian vocal quartet formed in 1962, in the heart of the Rio de Janeiro bossa nova scene... The four singers -- Aquiles, Magro, Miltinho, and Ruy -- pursued a modern, hip vocal style, similar to that of American groups such as Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, which made the vocals acrobatics and complex harmonies the centerpiece of their work, as opposed to the sweet harmonies of earlier vocal groups. They were mirrored in this approach by their female counterparts in Quarteto Em Cy which was formed around the same time, and with whom they would work over the decades. (Lead singer Ruy Faria was also married to Quarteto vocalist Cynara; two of their children pursued musical careers...) In 2004, after marking their 40th anniversary, Ruy Faria left the group and a new singer (Dalmo Medeiros of the group Ceu Da Boca) was brought in as his replacement.

Discography - Best-Ofs

MPB-4 "Millennium" (Polygram, 1998)
Incredibly awful pop vocals, loosely modeled on American groups such as The Four Freshmen or Manhattan Transfer. This best-of collection covers the span of the group's career, from 1967 to 1999, with goopy versions of songs written by artists such as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Djavan. MPB-4 are a male version of the Quarteto Em Cy -- a band I detest -- but with glitzier musical backup and less gymnastic vocal arrangements. This stuff is very much not to my taste, but if you're curious, this disc is probably as good an overview of their career as you're likely to find.

MPB-4 "A Arte De..." (Universal, 2007)

Discography - Albums

MPB-4/Various Artists "SAMBA PEDE PASSAGEM" (Polydor, 1966)
(Produced by Joao Das Neves & Armando Costa)
(Arranged by Maestro Gaya)

This free-flowing album draws on material from the live "show," Samba Pede Passagem, which was mounted by Grupo Opinao in December, 1965. Samba-cancao old-timers Aracy De Almeida and Ismael Silva are the central stars of the album, joined by the recently-founded vocal quartet, MPB-4 as well as flautist Carlos Poyares and various samba musicians. Highlights include Aracy and Ismael's recreation of the classic "polemica" song-battles of Wilson Batista and Noel Rosa, basically a Brazilian version of "doing the dozens," where the artists trade good-natured jibes while trying to outshine each other musically. Admittedly, these performances seem a bit tame in comparison to the originals and in general this album has kind of a languid, overly controlled feel, although it's still pretty cool. The best moments come from the samba and choro players, particularly a couple of tracks that highlight Poyares as a soloist. The album is notably an early showcase for MPB-4 and while I've never been a big fan, at least here they are relatively laid-back and not trying to do a bunch of vocal gymnastics, as on later albums. Fans of old-school samba-cancao and Nara Leao's early albums might wanna check this out.

MPB-4 "MPB-4" (Elenco, 1966) (LP)
The debut album by this Brazilian vocal quartet, the male equivalent of the much-vaunted Quarteto Em Cy. This is the first of several albums self titled "MPB-4" -- this one features several early compositions by Chico Buarque ("Ole Ola," "Juca," "Sonho De Um Carnaval" and "Tereza Tristeza," as well as songs by Vinicius de Moraes, Sergio Ricardo and others. I've never been able to get on the wavelength of these perky vocal groups -- the style seems fairly bland to me -- but if you wanted to check them out, I think these early albums would be the place to start.

MPB-4 "MPB-4" (Elenco, 1967)

MPB-4 "MPB-4" (Elenco, 1968)

MPB-4 "Deixa Estar" (Elenco, 1970)
(Produced by Eustaquio Sena; arrangements by MPB-4 & Roberto Menescal)

Although I'm not a huge fan of MPB-4, this album is pretty compelling. A rock-tinged, semi-psychedelic outing with debts to Rogerio Duprat and the tropicalia crowd, this features a mix of new songs, bossa evergreens and samba oldies by Noel Rosa, Donga, refashioned into swirling MPB pop tunes. The vocal acrobatics are kept to a minimum, while the trippy arrangements are brought to the fore, accentuating contemporary songs by Milton Nascimento, Edu Lobo, and even a couple of songs written by jazz guitarist Toninho Horta. There's an eclectic mix of instruments, with more emphasis on guitars and percussion, more in line with the music of the post-bossa experimentalists. True, after a while it gets to be a bit much, but overall this is a very strong album, and very unlike their earlier work. Definitely worth checking out.

MPB-4 "De Palavra Em Palavra" (Elenco, 1971)

MPB-4 "Cicatrizes" (Philips, 1972)

MPB-4 "Antologia Do Samba" (Philips, 1974)

MPB-4 "Palhacos E Reis" (Philips, 1974) (LP)

MPB-4 "10 Anos Depois" (Philips, 1975)

MPB-4 "Canto Dos Homens" (Philips, 1976) (LP)

MPB-4 "Antologia Do Samba v.2" (Philips, 1977) (LP)

MPB-4 "Cobra De Vidro" (Philips, 1978) (LP)

MPB-4 "Bons Tempos, Hein?!" (Philips, 1979) (

MPB-4 "Vira Virou" (Ariola, 1980) (LP)

MPB-4 "Flicts-Ziraldo E Sergio Ricardo" (1980) (LP)

MPB-4 "Adivinha O Que E?" (Ariola, 1981)

MPB-4 "Tempo Tempo" (Ariola, 1981) (LP)

MPB-4 "Caminhos Livres" (Ariola, 1983) (LP)

MPB-4 "4 Coringas" (Barclay, 1984) (LP)

MPB-4 "Feitico Carioca Do MPB-4 Para Noel Rosa" (Continental, 1987) (LP)

MPB-4 "Ao Vivo: Do Show Amigo E Pra Essas Coisas" (Som Livre, 1989)

MPB-4 "Sambas Da Minha Terra" (Som Livre, 1991)

MPB-4 "Encontro Marcado: MPB-4 Canta Milton Nascimento" (1993)

MPB-4 "Arte De Cantar: MPB-4 Ao Vivo" (Som Livre, 1995)

MPB-4 & Quarteto Em Cy "Bate-Boca" (PolyGram, 1997)

MPB-4 & Quarteto Em Cy "Somos Todos Iguais" (PolyGram, 1998)

MPB-4 "Melhores Momentos Ao Vivo" (CID, 1999)

MPB-4 & Quarteto Em Cy "Vinicius: A Arte Do Encontro" (Som Livre, 2000)

MPB-4 "MPB-4 E A Nova Musica Brasileira" (Abril, 2000)

MPB-4 "40 Anos Ao Vivo" (EMI, 2007)

MPB-4 "40 Anos Ao Vivo" (EMI, 2007) (DVD)

MPB-4 & Toquinho "40 Anos De Musica" (Biscoito Fino, 2008)

MPB-4 & Toquinho "40 Anos De Musica" (Biscoito Fino, 2009) (DVD)

MPB-4 "MPB4 - Programa Ensaio 1973" (Biscoito Fino, 2010) (DVD)

Solo Albums

Ruy Faria & Carlinhos Vergueiro "So Pra Chatear" (Rob Digital, 2005)

Miltinho "New Malemolencia" (1986)
A solo album by Milton Lima dos Santos Filho, aka MPB-4's Miltinho -- not to be confused with the radio singer Miltinho...


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