Guitarist/arranger Waltel Branco was a prolific, ubiquitous session player in the 1960s and '70s, although his own work has remained largely out of print. One of Brazil's most serious jazz players of the 1950s, Branco went abroad and worked with luminaries such as Chico Hamilton, Nat King Cole and Henry Mancini, while in Brazil he recorded with countless artists, including bossa nova legends such as Tom Jobim, Joao Gilberto and Sergio Ricardo, and stylists such as Gal Costa, Maria Creuza and Djavan. Here's a quick look at Branco's own recorded output...
Waltel Branco "Recital Violao" (1960)
Waltel Branco "Guitarras Em Fogo" (1962)
Waltel Branco "Guitarra Bossa Nova" (Musidisc, 1963)
A perky, dynamic, silly set of half-jazzy/half-kitschy guitar instrumentals, with a heavy dose of Les Paul in the mix (multiple guitars, including one that sounds sped-up and chirpy) and a generally giddy, goofy vibe. I'm not much of an easy listening aficianado, but I have to confess I was a little drawn in by this one... It's pretty funky and fun. It also sounds a lot more modern than '63... Go figure!
Waltel Branco "Mancini Tambem E Samba" (Mocambo, 1966)
Waltel Branco "Meu Balanco" (1972)
Airto Fogo "Jungle Bird Black Soul" (1972)
This is Branco recording under a pseudonym...
Waltel Branco "Musicas Do Seculo XVI Ao Seculo XX" (Magic Music/Itamaraty, 1974)
This album includes baroque and classical composers such as Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, etc as well as Villa-Lobos and Branco's own work... Basically a showcase for his "serious" guitar chops.
Waltel Branco "Meu Balanco" (EMI, 1975)
Despite the cheerleading from the acid-jazz contingent, I found little on this all-instrumental album to get excited about. The opening tracks are kind of funky, in a '70s fusion kind of way, but then it starts to dip into the softer language of Philly soul and soundtrack music. There are some OK, mellow grooves, but way too heavy on the fusion/easy listening tip, and not that vigorous overall. I mean, I'd prefer a plain old LA Express album to most of this album... and that's not necessarily meant as a compliment to Tom Scott! Still, retroholics and slee-zee listening aficianados will find a lot to get excited about here...
Airto Fogo "Airto Fogo" (1975)
Waltel Branco "Recital (II)" (Som Livre, 1976)
Waltel Branco & Rosinha De Valenca "Violao Em Dois Estilos" (Som Livre, 1980)
A split LP with guitarist Rosinha De Valenca on Side One and Waltel Branco on Side Two...
Waltel Branco "Kabiesi" (1990)
Waltel Branco "Naipi" (1997)
Waltel Branco "Meu Novo Balanco" (2007)
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