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Luiz Henrique portrait SInger-guitarist Luiz Henrique recorded only a handful of albums, many of them outside of Brazil... Henrique left Brazil in the early 1960s and pursued a successful career recording bossa nova and jazz with a number of Brazilian and North American artists, including Herbie Mann, Oscar Brown, Jr., organist Walter Wanderley and others. Most of his work has remained stubbornly out of print for several decades, but it's all worth tracking down. Here's a quick look...


Luiz Henrique "A Bossa Moderna De Luiz Henrique" (Philips, 1964)
The debut album by guitarist-vocalist Luiz Henrique, who had a successful career as an expatriate performer in the United States, recording several albums with other artists and playing prolifically on other's albums. A very pleasant, classic-sounding bossa nova record, delivered with a sort of Vegas-y nightclub aplomb... I'm not sure if this album was recorded outside of Brazil or not; it feels influenced by both the American and Brazilian traditions.

Luiz Henrique & Oscar Brown, Jr. "Finding A New Friend" (Fontana, 1966)
Henrique formed a seemingly improbable, but nonetheless solid, partnership with the prolific jazz-folk singer Oscar Brown, Jr., who seemed to have an affinity for bossa nova and Brazilian culture, even though his personal style didn't entirely shape itself to the new sound. This is an odd album, one that wobbles between goofiness and grace -- goofiness, of the earnest 'Sixties folksinger variety, is probably the dominant ingredient, especially with the tone set by Brown's spoken introduction to "Laia Ladaia," in which he takes it upon himself to explain the Brazilian folk tradition's relationship to Catholic liturgy. But there is the element of grace as well; while Brown is a fairly goofy performer, Henrique is undeniably cool, in the bossa way, and several songs stand apart on this album. Plus, if you're into the whole earnest folkie thing, this album's a gem on those terms alone. Worth checking out!

Luiz Henrique "Barra Limpa" (Verve, 1967)
A sweet, sometimes goofy, album produced up the States well after the first flush of Braz-Jazz crossovers. Even though this was recorded under the auspices of Verve, it's a pretty straightforward set of bossa flavored acoustic troubadouring, with most songs sung in English with the same guilelessly awkward accent that Caetano Veloso sometimes employs... Most of the songs are written by Henrique, although he also does a quirky, thoroughly enjoyable, version of Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada." The sidemen are mostly North American, although accordionist Sivuca also plays thoughout. Apparently, this has recently been reissued on CD... it's not earthshakingly great, but it is very pleasant and sweet, and might be fun for you to check out.

Luiz Henrique & Walter Wanderley "Popcorn" (Verve, 1967)

Luiz Henrique "Listen To Me" (Fontana, 1967)
This half English-language outing is a change of pace, sure, but it's also a little too goofy, and feels like a missed opportunity (I would have much preferred to hear these songs in Portuguese...) Henrique sounds kind of lounge-lizardy and mannered -- on the positive side, vaguely like the Sinatra-Jobim sessions, although not as stately. The tracks where he sings em portuguese are fine, though, and have some really lovely passages, and the translation of Vinicius De Moraes' "Berimbau" is kind of interesting, although nonetheless a bit flawed. It's all worth checking out, although some of the songs might not need command your attention for years to come...

Bobby Hackett, Billy Butterfield & Luiz Henrique "Bobby/Billy/Brasil" (Verve, 1968) (LP)

Luiz Henrique "Mestico" (Itagra, 1975) (LP)
His last album, recorded with an all-star lineup of Brazilian jazz player -- including J.T. Meirelles on flute and saxophone, Tenório Jr. on piano, Edson Lobo on bass and drumming by Paulo Braga and Edison Machado, and others -- opens on a jarring note: the moog-y, fusion-y, too-modern "Jandira" may make fans of his older records recoil and worry that this disc will be a dud. But a mellower vibe takes over on the rest of the record, and although the instruments are modern, the music is timeless. Some very pretty, moody tunes here, and even some spacey, drifting folk-psych (as on his tunes, "Saiandeira" and "Dianne"). An unusual, and appealing, album with pleasantly restrained efforts by a bunch of Braz-jazz vets. Nice.


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