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Monarco portrait One of the legendary old-timers of the Portela samba school, singer Hildemar Diniz, aka Monarco, recorded only a handful of albums but each one is a gem, showing old-school samba at its finest. Here's a quick look at his work...


Monarco "Monarco" (Continental, 1976)
A great, classic 1970s samba revival album... Monarco's still relatively youthful here (compared to his later albums) and while his voice has some of the gravitas of middle age, it's not quite the gravelly growl that many velha guarda performers bring to their work -- he's got some oomph to his voice. Backing him is a stellar set of musicians, including '70s samba stars such as Dino 7 Cordas, Jorginho, Mane Do Cavacao, Wilson das Neves and Ze Menezes, who plays several different instruments and also provides the arrangements. Choro saxophonist Abel Ferreira is also onboard, adding to an already talented crew. It's a classy acoustic set -- highly recommended!

Monarco "Terreiro" (Eldorado, 1980)
A delicious set of upbeat acoustic sambas, including several songs sung in praise of the Portela samba school. Great stuff from beginning to end, with just the right tone: light, sweet, bright and cheerfully sung, with nimble accompaniment by guitar, bandolim and percussion. Highly recommended.

Monarco "A Voz Do Samba" (Kuarup, 1992)

Monarco "Uma Historia Do Samba" (Rob Digital, 2004)
(Produced by Henrique Cazes & Katsunori Tanaka)

Lovely old-timer, acoustic samba music, with backing from Henrique Cazes, guitarist Paulo 7 Cordas, cavaquinho player Mauro Diniz and other great samba revivalists... The mix is bright and surprisingly punchy, but also languid and relaxed; Monarco's voice isn't as supple, perhaps, as it once once, but he is still and arresting performer, and the lyrics are delivered with great sensitivity and confidence. Beautiful acoustic picking throughout, in a pleasantly subdued setting. Recommended.


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