Singer Lucio Alves was one of the great stars of the pre-bossa nova "radio singers" era, a crooner and balladeer who moved from the old-fashioned samba-cancao sound of the 1930s into a more cool, modern vocal style, influenced by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and other American pop singers. Along with Dick Farney, Alves was the idol of many younger Brazilians, including artists such as Joao Gilberto, who emulated his cool approach and incorporated it into the new bossa nova style of the late '50s. Although eclipsed by his followers, Alves recorded well into the 1970s, and worked with some of the bossa pioneers... Here's a quick look at his career...
Lucio Alves "Serestas" (Mocambo, 1957)
A remarkably slow, slowww, slowwwwwwwwwwwwww set of soft, reserved romantic tunes sung by the suave Lucio Alves, idol of a generation of younger Brazilian music fans. This set was actually his first LP (after a decade of singing on the radio and cutting numerous 78s), and it seems like a very conservative offering. Although I'm sure this holds great nostalgia appeal for Brazilian oldies fans, it's not really that much fun. His later stuff is more highly recommended. (By the way, does anyone know of any collections of Alves's earlier work? Has it ever been gathered on CD or LP?)
Lucio Alves "Sua Voz Intima, Sua Bossa Nova Interpretando Sambas Em 3D" (Odeon, 1959)
One of the most reknowned popular singers at the time of the bossa nova revolution, during the late 1950s, Lucio Alves straddled the divide, singing both bossa material and the older style of romantic ballads. Alves was not known so much as an interpreter of bossa (although there are a handful of Antonio Carlos Jobim songs included in this collection, amid evergreens by Dorival Caymmi and Lupicino Rodrigues). Rather, he was considered one of the stylistic models for the new cool that the bossa crowd sought to project -- Joao Gilberto, in particular, emulated Alves' suave delivery. The arrangements on most of these songs aren't terribly dynamic, but the delivery is solid, and classy. One highlight is his version of Caymmi's perky "La Vem A Baiana," which is a great little tune, with a bouncier and more hook-laden melody than most of the tracks on here... This album is a winner, with solid arrangements by Maestro Gaya.
Lucio Alves "A Noite Do Meu Bem" (Odeon, 1960)
(Produced by Aloysio de Oliveira)
A mellow, mournful, slightly lethargic homage to singer Dolores Duran, with a dozen songs she wrote or co-wrote before her untimely death in 1959. Old-school producer Aloysio De Oliveira presides at the helm, with musicians including Chiquinho do Acordeon, pianist Luiz Carlos Vinhas, and Ed Lincoln on bass; Baden Powell's guitar is mostly buried int he mix, but he gets more of a spotlight on tunes like "Quem Sou Eu," towards the end of the album Classic, old-fashioned, old-school Brazilian ballads. Classy stuff, though kind of snoozy.
Lucio Alves "Cantando Depois Do Sol" (Philips, 1961)
Lucio Alves "A Bossa E Nossa" (Philips, 1961)
Lucio Alves "Bossa Nova Mesmo" (Philips, 1961)
Lucio Alves "Tio Samba: Musica Americana Em Bossa Nova" (Philips, 1962)
North American show tunes and standards done up in the then-trendy bossa nova style...
Lucio Alves "Balancamba" (Elenco, 1963)
(Produced by Aloysio de Oliveira)
Another latter-day set, with Alves jovially bouncing his way through some swingin' new material... This album features a dozen songs composed by the bossa nova songwriting duo of Roberto Menescal and Ronaldo Boscoli, but rather than settle into the gentle bossa style, Alves is framed in an upbeat modern pop style, a perky, chugging update of the old samba cancao style, done in the then-standard issue Odeon house sound... It's not spine-tingling or incandenscent, but it ain't bad... The old-timer still had a lot of juice left, even as the musical landscape was shifting before him... Worth checking out.
Lucio Alves/Sylvia Telles/Roberto Menescal "Bossa Session" (Elenco, 1964)
Well into the bossa years, Telles was a much looser, much lusher singer, and these relaxed, swinging recordings made for Aloysio De Oliveira's are among some of the best material in the Elenco catalog. Telles is joined by another old-timer, Lucio Alves, who also sounds in a pretty good mood. I'm not sure, but I believe guitarist-composer Roberto Menescal provides backup on all these tracks; his group also performs several instrumental numbers. The pacing of this album is quite nice, too... it's been reissued on CD and is well worth tracking down!
Lucio Alves "MPB Ao Vivo" (1974)
Lucio Alves "Lucio Alves" (RCA Victor, 1975)
(Produced by Aloysio de Oliveira, arrangements by Chico de Moraes)
His last full (solo) album... Swank, modern arrangements, suave, robust vocals, and a dozen songs with women's names ("Ana Luisa," "Izabela," "Rosa," etc.) Normally I'm not so keen on lush string arrangements, or those airy '70s keyboards... But somehow, with Lucio Alves singing, it all sounds so cool.
Lucio Alves & Doris Monteiro "No Projeto Pixinguinha" (Coronado/EMI-Odeon, 1978)
(Produced by Milton Miranda)
You'd think, from the album title, that this would be two veterans of the pre-bossa "radio singer" era teaming up to pay homage to pre-radio singer choro composer, Pixinguinha. Actually, though, this is a smooth set of duets with songs written by the likes of Edu Lobo, Hervilito Martins and Antonio Carlos Jobim, with cool, relaxed, soft-fusion/dinner jazz arrangements and a slight choro-ish bounce in the rhythm... No matter, though, how Pixi-ish it may or may not be, this is also one of the best albums either of these old-timers have made -- the music is solid and they definitely share a strong artistic rapport. Monteiro was at her peak here, and though Alves was long over the hill, he also had the air of a master performer, able to imbue great subtlety into his phrasing and intonation. The album's real strong point, however, is the funky, nimble, fusion-flavored keyboard work, courtesy of Ricardo Albano, Jr. You wouldn't guess it at first glance, but this is a pretty cool album. Worth checking out.
Lucio Alves "Romantico" (Inverno & Verao, 1986)
Lucio Alves "Ha Sempre Um Nome De Mulher" (1988)
Lucio Alves "O Cantor De Todas As Bossas" (EMI, 1996)
This 24-track collection gathers, in their entirety, two classic Alves albums, Sua Voz Intima from 1959, and the 1960 Dolores Duran tribute, A Noite Do Meu Bem, repeating the track listing for both albums. It's a real doozy!
Lucio Alves "Mestres Da MPB" (EMI, 1996)
Lucio Alves "Serie Bis Bossa Nova" (EMI, 2001)
This 2-CD 28 track set has near-total overlap with the earlier 24 song, single-disc album listed above, O Cantor De Todas As Bossas. A couple of songs from the late '70s are added, a handful of older songs are different. As with the other album, this is a fairly definitive look at Alves' career during the big bossa nova years. This edition has the advantage of listing all the recording dates, even though the artwork is otherwise quite minimal.
Lucio Alves "Pure Bossa Nova" (Verve, 2008)
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