Songwriter and sambista Elton Medeiros is one of the key figures in the acoustic samba revival of the 1960s, performing in several traditionally-oriented bands that set the standard for others to follow. An early collaborator of Ze Keti, he also worked closely with Paulinho Da Viola at the start of his career, as well as Nelson Cavaquinho, Guilherme de Brito, and others. Many of Medeiros' songs became standards in the MPB scene and among various samba performers. Here's a quick look at his work...
Conjunto A Voz Do Morro "Roda De Samba" (Musidisc, 1965)
This exquisite acoustic album was a foundational touchstone for the traditional samba revival of the 1960s, featuring contributions from master sambistas Jair Do Cavaquinho, Elton Medeiros and bandleader Ze Keti, along with newcomer Paulinho Da Viola, who solos on a couple of songs. It's a beautiful album and a great debut for Da Viola, a joyful, stripped-down session, with each artist trading lead vocals from song to song, round-robin style. All the performances, all the songs, all the melodies and choruses are rich with history and finesse: these guys set the bar pretty high for anyone who would follow. Note: Keti apparently wasn't on this album, although he appears on later Voz Do Morro releases -- the record is no less rich and rewarding for his absence, though. A wonderful album, highly recommended.
Conjunto A Voz Do Morro "Roda De Samba v. 2" (Musidisc, 1965)
Conjunto A Voz Do Morro "Roda De Samba v. 3" (RGE, 1966)
Conjunto A Voz Do Morro "Os Sambistas" (RGE, 1966)
Conjunto Rosa De Ouro "Rosa De Ouro v.1" (EMI-Odeon, 1965)
Conjunto Rosa De Ouro "Rosa De Ouro v.2" (EMI-Odeon, 1967)
Conjunto Rosa De Ouro "Raizes Do Samba" (EMI Brasil, 2000)
As part of their excellent "Raizes do Samba" reissue series, EMI has collected both these old albums on one CD. An all-star ensemble including Da Viola, Clementina De Jesus, Elton Medeiros, Jair do Cavaquinho and Nelson Sargento... so how could you go wrong? These acoustic sambas are intensely rhythmic, though light on percussion, and heavy on vocals and guitars. When recorded in the mid-'60s, this music was a deliberate throwback; what's modernized about it is the smoothness of performance and production. Mighty nice stuff.
Os Cinco Crioulos "Samba... No Duro" (Odeon, 1967)
Simple and simply irresistible acoustic sambas, with a quintet that features Nelson Sargento, Elton Medeiros, Jair do Cavaquinho, Mauro Duarte and Nescarzinho do Salgueiro, some of the most talented samba revivalists of the post-bossa era. The percussion is catchy, the melodies sweet, the vocal coros is only a few voices in harmony (as opposed to the large group chorus that became part of the '70s pagode style), and the songs are all great. This one's a keeper.
Os Cinco Crioulos "Samba No Duro, v.2" (Odeon, 1968)
Pure gold. If anything, the group had improved upon its sound by this second album... Dominated by lively cavaquinho riffs and an overall ebullience, this disc is a real gem. Highly recommended!
Os Cinco Crioulos "Series Do Raizes" (EMI, 2000)
A compilation of this fine acoustic samba band's early work, including plenty of material from both Samba... No Duro albums. Sweet stuff -- recommended!
Elton Medeiros & Paulinho Da Viola "Samba Na Madrugada" (RGE/Premier, 1966)
A delightful album, and a landmark of the early acoustic samba renaissance, reuniting these two sambistas after a trio of fine albums with the Conjunto Rosa De Ouro. Da Viola and Medeiros alternate singing lead, sing one duet, and take turns on the verses of a longer medley "pot-pourri" track. This is perhaps less distinctive than some of Da Viola's later work, but it's still quite lovely... Highly recommended!
Elton Medeiros "Elton Medeiros" (EMI-Odeon, 1973)
Elton Medeiros "Elton Medeiros" (Eldorado, 1980)
Elton Medeiros "Mais Feliz" (Leblon, 1995)
Straightforward acoustic sambas, in the early pagode mode... Medeiros is one of the great samba traditionalists, along with the likes of Nelson Sargento and Paulinho Da Viola (who guests on this album...) This is one of the few full albums which showcases Medeiros as a solo artist -- all the songs on here were written or co-written by him, and they all feature his trademark simplicity and matter-of-fact joyfulness. A few tracks slide into drippy territory, for instance when a Toots Thielmans-ish harmonica drifts to the fore, but for the most part this is very solid and listenable. Worth tracking down.
Elton Medeiros/Mariana De Moraes/Ze Renato "A Alegria Continua" (MPB/Universal, 1997)
Elton Medeiros & Marcia "Cartola 90 Anos" (SESC, 1998)
Elton Medeiros/Nelson Sargento/Galo Preto "So Cartola" (Rob Digital, 1999)
A live tribute album featuring some of the '70s acoustic sambistas who had worked with Cartola, and who co-wrote several of these songs. It's a sweet performance which takes a little while to gather steam. Initially things are a bit slow -- none of these fellers are as sprightly as they used to be, and the vocals are a bit slurred. But the band is solid, and the old-timers performances gain resonance as the show goes on. Nice stuff.
Elton Medeiros "Aurora De Paz" (Rob Digital, 2001)
Elton Medeiros "Bem Que Mereci" (Biscoito Fino, 2005)
(Produced by Luciana Rabello)
A very nice set of elder-statesman/velha guarda samba-cancao. Medeiros sounds confident and cool, and above all, mature and relaxed. The arrangements, which are occasionally dominated by the trumpet and other horns, are basically pretty reserved and classy... It's a really nice, low-key set that emphasizes the subtler emotional side of the style... Definitely worth checking out!
Clementina De Jesus "Clementina, Cade Voce?" (MIS, 1970)
A tribute Elton Medeiros, by singer Clementina de Jesus, who performed with him 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!
Os Meninos Do Rio "Os Meninos Do Rio" (Sony/Carioca Discos, 2000)
(Produced by Paulinho Albuquerque)
An absolutely gorgeous set of old-school acoustic pagode samba, honoring the work of composers such as Ivone Lara, Jair Do Cavaquinho, Elton Medeiros and Nelson Sargento. A bunch of these old-timers are pictured and named on the front cover, and make guest appreances thoughout, although the album is anchored by a group of younger musicians who, I assume, go by the name of Os Meninos Do Rio. At any rate, this is a super-lovely record. Fans of Beth Carvalho or the Velha Guarda Da Portela owe it to themselves to track this one down.
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