Clementina De Jesus (1901-1987) was an unknown singer who, out-of-the-blue, became a national star in the 1960s. Throughout the 1930s and '40s he was a member of some of Rio's primary samba schools, first Portela, and then Mangueira, although her primary musical involvement was as a member of the samba da roda style of call-and-response social sambas. For decades, her day job was as a maid, not as a professional musician. That changed in 1963, producer Herminio Bello de Carvalho recruited her to star in the show, "Rosa De Ouro," where she became nationally known, performing and recording alongside samba revivalists Paulinho Da Viola and Elton Medeiros. Her style of samba antigua became recognized for its purity and authenticity, and Clementina became a valued participant on various albums, singing alongside MPB stars such as Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento and Clara Nunes, who were eager to connect with her direct link to samba music's deep past. Despite her critical acclaim, De Jesus made little money as a musician, and remained poor up until her passing in 1987. Here's a quick look at some of her work...
Clementina De Jesus/Araci Cortes/Conjunto Rosa De Ouro "Rosa De Ouro" (Odeon, 1965)
Clementina De Jesus "Clementina De Jesus" (Odeon, 1966)
Clementina De Jesus/Araci Cortes/Conjunto Rosa De Ouro "Rosa De Ouro, 2" (Odeon, 1967)
Fala Mangueira! "Fala Mangueira!" (Odeon, 1968)
A magnificent old-school, pre-pagode samba album. It's a little difficult to know just where to file this one... "Fala Mangueira" is actually the album title, but while five of the greatest traditional samba artists of the 1960s and '70s share the stage, as it were, on this disc, they are all performing together, taking turns singing the leads on longer medley tunes. At any rate, if you want to hear Clementina, Odete Amaral, Nelson Cavaquinho, Cartola and Carlos Cachaca all busting loose on a nice set of tunes associated with (and about) Cartola's famous samba school, then check this disc out. The arrangements and performances are all first-rate, and this has a really nice, friendly feel. Recommended!
Clementina De Jesus/Pixinguinha/Joao Da Bahiana "Gente Da Antiga" (EMI, 1968)
Wonderful! Old-fashioned choros and sambas performed by two elderly master musicians, and Clementina, an unknown singer who, out-of-the-blue, became a national star in the 1960s. Her style of samba antigua is just gorgeous, especially when blended in with modernized touches, such as the large melodic choruses, as well as Pixinguinha's outstanding, virtuoso playing.
Clementina De Jesus/Cyro Monteiro/Nora Ney "Mudando De Converso" (Imperial, 1968)
Clementina De Jesus "Clementina, Cade Voce?" (MIS, 1970)
A tribute to samba revivalist Elton Medeiros, who Clementina performed with in the Rosa De Ouros show. Clementina sounds positively ancient here, with a croaking, barking vocal tone that might take a little getting used to, but also stamps this album with an unassailable, rugged authenticity. The backing -- '70s-style pagode, with vocal chorus, cavaquinho, Afro-Brazilian drums percussion and a drunken trumpet here and there -- is straightforward and unfussy, a perfect encapsulation of the roda de samba style. On several tunes, Clementina has fun with her own well-aged voice, grinding lower and lower in an almost Louis Armstrong-like samba scat singing. These are deep samba roots; perhaps not for everyone, but if you're willing to have your music sound a little un-pretty, this disc is a doozy!
Clementina De Jesus "Marinheiro So" (EMI, 1973)
Another great album -- though this time a bit rawer, and with more focus on Clementina as vocalist. Also, a real heavy dose of traditional Afro-Brazilian percussion. The title track is a cover of Caetano Veloso's arrangement of a classic tune, also heard on his third album. Great stuff!
Clementina De Jesus "Convidado Especial: Carlos Cachaca" (EMI-Odeon, 1976)
A very sweet set in which Clementina generously gives over a big chunk of the set to to velha guarda sambista Carlos Cachaca, who radiates good spirits and poetic depth. There's a little bit of new stuff -- songs by Joao Bosco and Milton Nascimento -- several samba school classics, and a ton of traditional, folkloric chants, which are some of the most haunting and delicious tunes on here. As ever, you have to get on the right wavelength to appreciate her gravelly, husky voice, but once you do, this is a very rewarding record.
Clementina De Jesus "...E Convidados" (EMI, 1979)
Yet another fine samba record from Clementina... A fairly even mix of more elaborate pagode-style dance numbers and rawer samba de roda circle-sambas. Guest stars abound on this album, including Joao Bosco, Christina Buarque, Martinho Da Vila, Ivone Lara, Clara Nunes and Roberto Ribeiro... What a lineup! This is definitely one of De Jesus's best albums!
Clementina De Jesus "Canto Do Escravos" (Eldorado, 1982)
Clementina De Jesus "Serie Raizes Do Samba" (EMI, 1999)
A fab little best-of that draws from two of the albums listed above, Marinheiro So and Gente da Antiga... More great stuff, of course. Recommended!
Clementina De Jesus "Rainha Quele" (EMI, 1999)
Clementina De Jesus "Para Sempre" (EMI, 2002)
Clementina De Jesus "Brasil: A-Z" (EMI, 2003)
Three albums, reissued together in a slipcase brick... I haven't laid eyes on this particular set, so I don't know which three records are included.
Clementina De Jesus "Eu Sou O Samba" (EMI, 2005)
Clementina De Jesus "Nova Bis" (EMI, 2006)
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