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Novelli portrait Djair de Barros e Silvam aka Novelli was a prolific session player in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, playing bass on countless albums from many top-tier artists in Brazilian jazz, rock and MPB -- including work with Geraldo Azevedo, Lo Borges, Chico Buarque, Nana Caymmi, Gal Costa, Joao Donato, Egberto Gismonti, Toninho Horta, Tom Jobim, Joyce, Edu Lobo, Ney Matogrosso, Milton Nascimento, Zizi Possi, Elis Regina, Marcos Valle, and many others -- as well as on numerous more obscure projects. His studio contributions are too numerous to list here, but here's a quick look at several records recorded under his own name, or where he played a formative role in the sound of the band...


Mario Castro-Neves "... & Samba S.A." (RCA, 1967)
This is his debut album of Braz-jazz pianist Mario Castro-Neves, with Novelli playing bass. It's a vocals-oriented disc that starts out sounding a bit like early Sergio Mendes, but is soon dominated by the female vocal duo of Biba & Thais, who are basically a clunkier (yet paradoxically more entertaining) two-voice version of the vocal gymnastic style of the better-known Quarteto Em Cy. Fine in small doses, though you might find yourself driven to distraction should you attempt to listen to this disc from start to finish. Still, it's a nice slice of the old-school Brazilian jazz scene, and better than average for the times... Includes a handful of songs sung in English, as well as several of the requisite bossa standards.

A Tribo/Various Artists "POSICOES" (Odeon, 1971)
This mercifully short compilation EP included four excessively spaced-out experimental rock/folk freak bands: A Tribo, the short-lived supergroup that included Novelli, Nelson Angelo, Joyce, Toninho Horta and Nana Vasconcelos... There are two A Tribo songs, "Kyrie" and "Peba E Pobo," from the band's lone release, a double single which also contained two other songs. Also repersented are the hard-psych rock band Modulo 1000, the fusion-y Som Imaginario and a rock band called Equipe Mercado. A holy grail for some, a really irritating record for others.

Nana Vasconcelos/Nelson Angelo/Novelli "Africadeus" (Saravah, 1972)

Novelli/Beto Guedes/Danilo Caymmi/Toninho Horta "Beto Guedes/Danilo Caymmi/Novelli/Toninho Horta" (Odeon, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Milton Miranda & Nelson Angelo)

Novelli "Cancoes Brasileiras" (Maracatu, 1984)
A real jazz record, with sleek, ornate, alternately gooey and complex modern MPB overtons... I can't really get into this myself, but I can recognize some of the more challenging, creative elements. It's sort of midway between the treacly elements of Milton Nascimento's sound and the ultra-avant jazz of Hermeto Pascoal, with enough depth and mystery to keep it out of the muzak trap. Not my cup of tea, but certainly worth checking out.


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