Pianist and arranger Erlon Chaves (1933-74) toured with Elis Regina and Jorge Ben, worked extensively in television and film, recorded a number of albums as bandleader and left his mark on the booming MPB scene of the '60s and '70s. Here's a quick look at his work...
Erlon Chaves "Em Tempo De Samba" (RCA Victor, 1961)
Apparently this was his debut, with Chaves covering a bunch of big bossa and samba hits. He was a clearly very assured bandleader and arranger, but it may all seem kind of tame to many listeners, and not as samba-y as the album art implies. Sure, compared to his later work, this is relatively rootsy, though the swank Doc Severinsen-ish big band arrangements are still a little too posh for me. Not as over-arranged and gooey as what would come, and you can definitely hear the samba in the percussion, but not quite in a whole-hearted batucada way. I dunno. If you're already a Chaves fan, you'll absolutely want to check this out, if you're into Brazilian gafieria, I suppose it's worth checking out, but ultimately this didn't do much for me. You could just as well pick up a Quincy Jones album of the same vintage.
Erlon Chaves "Sabadabada" (Copacabana, 1965)
Erlon Chaves "Pra Nao Dizer Que Nao Falei De Sucessos" (Philips, 1968)
(Arranged and conducted by Erlon Chaves)
Funked-up instrumental versions of current soul and pop hits, mostly stuff from the United States such as Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," Arthur Conley's "Funky Street" or Jay Webb's "MacArthur Park." You get the idea. This album shows off Chaves's skill as a producer/arranger but interestingly does not present these tunes in a particularly Brazilian light... Other than the swooping Rogerio Duprat-esque string arrangements on a few tunes, it's more like a standard-issue instrumental pop session that someone like the Neville Brothers/Meters might have been booked for -- heavy snare drums with a funky-drummer beat, and an aggressive approach to the melodies, but not a strong samba influence. I guess I'd classify this more as kitsch than as sincere samba-rock, or whatever. The last track, "Monia," has a goofy novelty voiceover but not enough of a novelty appeal to make me want to go back to it. Which is pretty true of the entire album... There's other stuff out there that's more interesting.
Erlon Chaves "Banda Veneno De Erlon Chaves" (Philips, 1971)
Erlon Chaves "Banda Veneno Internacional" (Philips, 1972)
Erlon Chaves "As Dez Cancoes Medalha De Ouro -- Erlon Chaves E Paul Mauriat" (Philips, 1973)
Erlon Chaves "Banda Veneno Internacional, v.2" (Philips, 1973)
Erlon Chaves "Banda Veneno Internacional, v.3" (Philips, 1973)
Erlon Chaves "Banda Veneno Internacional, v.4" (Philips, 1974)
Erlon Chaves "Banda Veneno Internacional, v.5" (Philips, 1974)
Erlon Chaves "Millennium" (Universal, 2002)
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