A prolific composer and performer, multi-instrumentalist Jorge Aragao was a founding member of the Grupo Fundo Do Quintal, and is a torchbearer for the back-to-roots samba style known as pagode. Although he dips into more modern musical styles, Aragao remains a symbol of traditionalism and one of the finest acoustic sambistas around. Here's a quick look at his work...
Jorge Aragao "Jorge Aragao" (Ariola, 1981)
Jorge Aragao "Verao" (Ariola, 1983)
Jorge Aragao "Coisa De Pele" (RGE, 1986)
Jorge Aragao "Raiz E Flor" (RGE, 1988)
(Produced by Milton Manhaes)
Slick, classy samba-pop, but ultimately too gooey and ballad-oriented for me... The opening track, a duet with Arlindo Cruz, is a nice uptempo tune that harkens back to the glory days of pagode, as do a couple of tracks on second half of the album, but the rest of the record is super-soft pop, with tinkly keyboards and gentle arrangements that won't do much for folks in search of a more robust samba sound.
Jorge Aragao "A Seu Favor" (RGE, 1990)
(Produced by Ivan Paulo & Milton Manhaes)
Suuuuuuuuper-cheesy soft-pop sambas, with gooey, gelatenous synthesizers and an unusually cloying vocal style on Aragao's part. There are a couple of songs that show some sign of life, but really, this one you can skip.
Jorge Aragao "Chorando Estrellas" (RGE, 1992)
Jorge Aragao "Um Jorge" (RGE, 1993)
(Produced by Vasco Borges & Milton Manhaes)
A sweet, simple set of beautiful, old-school acoustic pagode samba, with Aragao, a chorus, some fine Afro-Brasilian drumming and lots of pretty-sounding guitars and cavaquinho. Nice stuff -- a mellow, melodic record that never dips into the trite or goopy pop production that plagues so many similar albums. Recommended!
Jorge Aragao "Acena" (RGE, 1994)
(Produced by Ivan Paulo & Marcos Salles)
This is pretty cheesy, but listenable. I'd rather he hadn't used all the glossy production and synths, but this disc still has some of its samba roots intact, and if you don't really pay attention to it, it makes fine background music. Not his best work, though.
Jorge Aragao "Sambista A Bordo" (Indie, 1997)
Jorge Aragao "Sambai" (Indie, 1998)
Jorge Aragao "Ao Vivo" (Indie, 1999)
Jorge Aragao "Tocando O Samba" (Indie, 1999)
Jorge Aragao "Bar Da Esquina" (Som Livre, 2000)
This disc opens with a simply dreadful performance, dominated by high, tinny, liqueous electric keyboard progressions -- your eyes roll back and you think, "ye gods, why are Brazilians so tacky sometimes?" Then, suddenly, the album slips quietly into the title track, a sweet, subtle acoustic samba that's saturated through with Aragao's delicate, lulling vocals. Beautiful. Sadly, though, the album keeps wobbling into more saccharine, sappy terrain, and while the acoustic-based numbers are a delight, the more cloying, overly ornate pop tunes are repellant. A mixed bag, but at its core, a very lovely album.
Jorge Aragao "Ao Vivo 2" (Indie/Universal, 2000)
A live album by this upbeat acoustic sambista. Nice stuff, very similar to Martinho Da Vila, although I have to admit the rapturous audience-participation singalongs kind of get in the way of just enjoying the tunes. I've had several readers write to recommend this fellow, so I imagine that if you can check out his studio albums, they may be more rewarding. One really cool detail: the lyric sheet also includes chord tabs for all the songs, so if you want to learn how to play this style of music, this could be a great place to start.
Jorge Aragao "Ao Vivo Convida" (Indie/Universal, 2002)
Jorge Aragao "Todas" (Indie/Universal, 2002)
(Produced by Jorge Aragao)
A poppy, and not at all unpleasant, soft-samba album, with lullingly sweet cavaquinho work and smooth vocals. Nice selection of tunes, too, many of which are highly recognizable... most of which were written by Aragao himself! A couple of songs, getting deep into the album, have overly-popped out arrangements, but for the most part this is pretty straightforward and lovely to listen to, in much the same way as Jair Rodrigues' mellowest work from the 1970s. As on his other albums, Aragao includes full lyrics and guitar tabs for all the songs. Recommended!
Jorge Aragao "Ao Vivo 3" (Indie/Universal, 2004)
Jorge Aragao "Da Noite Pro Dia" (Indie/Universal, 2004)
(Produced by Jorge Aragao & Julio Teixeira)
This is a very slick and pop-oriented set, with sweet, melodic samba running underneath it, but very little pretense of it being a "roots" samba album. As soft pop/easy listening goes, it's fairly nuanced and textured. Easy on the ears, though perhaps a little cloying.
Jorge Aragao "E Ai?" (Indie/Universal, 2006)
Jorge Aragao "Duetos" (Som Livre, 2010)
Jorge Aragao "Perolas" (Som Livre, 2000)
Jorge Aragao "Serie Sem Limite" (Universal, 2001)
Jorge Aragao "Millennium" (Universal, 2003)
Jorge Aragao "Perfil" (Som Livre, 2003)
Jorge Aragao "Roda De Samba" (Som Livre, 2006)
Jorge Aragao "Nova Serie" (WEA Brasil, 2008)
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