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Rosinha De Valenca portrait Guitarist and singer Rosinha De Valenca (1941-2004) was a popular session musician and a member in good standing of Brazil's swinging jazz scene during the bossa nova years and beyond. She performed in several influential shows and venues, including the historic "O Fino Da Bossa" revue, which was the first bossa nova show staged in Sao Paulo. For a while she was a member of the Sergio Mendes band, and pursued a successful career as a solo artist herself... Here's a quick look at her work...


Rosinha De Valenca "Apresentando" (Elenco, 1964)

Rosinha/Joao Donato/Bud Shank "Bud Shank/Joao Donato/Rosinha" (Elenco, 1965)

Sergio Mendes & Wanda De Sah "Brasil '65" (Capitol, 1965)
"The Greatest New South American Arrival Since Coffee!" Were they talking about Sergio Mendes, Wanda De Sa, or Ms. de Valenca? With a talent triple-threat like that, it's no surprise this album made such an impression. This was one of Mendes' big North American breakthroughs and, along with the fabled Getz/Gilberto album, one of the key records that brought bossa nova to the United States. Mendes relocated to the States to further his career, but Wanda Sa returned to Brazil and was later replaced (on the next album) by an American jazz singer, Lani Hall, who was the singer on the hit version of "Mais Que Nada." Mendes was also joined by a number of North American jazz and studio musicians, including saxophonist Bud Shank, who was a major interpreter of the bossa nova style. Commercially, this wasn't Mendes' biggest hit record, but it sure made an impression on his fans.

Sergio Mendes & Brazil '65 "... In Person At El Matador!" (Atlantic, 1966)
A pretty nice, stripped-down live set, where Mendes credibly comes off as both a mellow jazzman and a bossa prophet. Some nice subtle moments; easy on the ears in the best kinda way.

Rosinha De Valenca "Ao Vivo" (Forma, 1966)

Rosinha De Valenca "...Apresenta Ipanema Beat" (RCA, 1970)
Kind of an odd little album, filled with electrified "beat" instrumentals that blend Booker T-style soul with muzak-y kitsch. Rosinha, who is probably best known for her stint playing guitar with Sergio Mendes (as well as jazz work with Stan Getz) adopts a remarkably grungey, fuzzed-out tone... Her guitar work is frequently overpowered by the aggressive organ playing, but she gets in plenty of mean licks. Not bad for a girl. This album didn't really float my boat, but loungecore fans might dig it, especially since she covers a Serge Gainsbourg song, as well as several '60s pop tunes. This album was recorded just before she returned to Brazil after spending most of the '60s abroad.

Rosinha De Valenca "Um Violao Em Primeiro Plano" (RCA, 1971)
Another kitschy album by guitarist De Valenca... This disc is a little exasperating in that many songs work up a genuine funky vibe, only to interrupt it with some dorky Sergio Mendes-style vocal chorus. Again and again, De Valenca sacrifices musical momentum for some sort of imposed soft-pop/novelty aesthetic, and thus the album jerks around back and forth between two extremes. Doubtless many 'Sixties pop fans find this sort of time capsule to be a real hoot, but I kinda wish De Valenca had played it "straight" more often; she was obviously capable of generating real funky grooves, but for whatever reason her soulful side gets perpetually undercut. Oh, well.

Rosinha De Valenca "Rosinha De Valenca" (Som Livre, 1973)

Rosinha De Valenca "Ao Vivo" (Odeon, 1975)

Rosinha De Valenca "Cheiro De Mato" (EMI, 1976)
(Produced by Milton Miranda & Mariozinho Rocha)

A sweet, sometimes sugary, album, with emphasis placed on her voice... It took me a while to place the likeness: she kind of sounds like Marisa Monte, though a bit rougher tonally. This is a nice record, although it does start to drag a bit and sound a lot alike from song to song. Lovely accompaniment from an all-star cast: De Valenca plays delicious Spanish guitar; Sivuca contributes some of his most restrained accordion work, and Joao Donato is in the mix as well, with piano passages that don't call attention to themselves -- indeed, this is a low-key album, with performances that are solely in service to the songs. There is an easy-listening vibe on a lot of the tracks, but even taking that into account, this is a nice little record. Certainly, if you were into De Valenca to begin with, you will want to check this one out.

Rosinha De Valenca & Sivuca "Gravado Ao Vivo" (RCA, 1977)
(Produced by Sergio Cabral)

A famed, fabled live performance featuring Sivuca alongside jazz guitarist Rosinha De Valenca, a veteran of the Sergio Mendes stable. Delves pretty deeply into regional styles such as forro, and some similarly challenging material. Definitely worth checking out.

Rosinha De Valenca & Waltel Branco "Violao Em Dois Estilos" (Som Livre, 1980)
A split LP with guitarist Rosinha De Valenca on Side One and Waltel Branco on Side Two...


Various Artists "Gravado Ao Vivo" (Quitanda, 2004)
(Produced by Maria Bethania & Miucha)

Following a severe heart attack, De Valenca fell into a coma and was in a vegetative state for over twelve years. This tribute was recorded after her death in 2004, with contributions from Alcione, Maria Bethania, Chico Buarque, Martinho da Vila, Bebel Gilberto, Ivone Lara, Miucha, Hermeto Pascoal, Caetano Veloso, and guitarists Turibio Santos and Yamandu Costa.


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