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Dulce Nunes portrait The wife of '50s pianist Bene Nunes, Dulce Nunes recorded a few albums and singles in the mid-1960s, at the tail end of the bossa nova craze, as it dovetailed into the more erudite MPB scene. Here's a quick look at her work...


Dulce Nunes/Carlos Lyra/Moacir Santos "Pobre Menina Rica" (Sony Columbia, 1964)
Dulce Nunes gets top billing on this misty-eyed, politically themed collaboration between poet Vinicius de Moraes and guitarist Carlos Lyra. Also features input by arranger Radames Gnattali, and gal vocals by Thelma and Ms. Nunes. Some of this is rather "stagey," while there are also a brace of fine romantic tunes and latter-day bossa nova tunes.

Dulce (Nunes) "Dulce" (Forma, 1966) (LP)
(Arranged and conducted by Guerra Peixe)

Bleah. A dour, leaden, overly lethargic set, with ponderous folkishness and art-song leanings... Slow, sombre orchestrations and nary a backbeat or samba rhythm to be found. Nunes sounds songbirdish and overly-artful. The repertoire draws heavily on Jobim, Baden Powell and Carlos Lyra, but there isn't a shred of their joyfulness to be found in these inert, motionless versions. Alas. Honestly? I thought this record was a chore to get through, and it really doesn't hold up well over the years. But if you're looking for a super-serious, joyless set of bossa nova oldies, well, here you go. Apparently, Baden Powell plays guitar on at least some of the songs.

Dulce Nunes "Samba Do Escritor" (Forma, 1968)
In contrast to her previous album, this is a nice, swinging bossa set with a light touch, aided by an impressive cast of up-and-coming MPB talent. The group Momento Quatro sings in a bouncy '60s-pop chorus on several songs, sounding reminiscent of early Sergio Mendes, while several important young post-bossa MPBers work as arrangers: Oscar Castro-Neves, Luiz Eca, and Egberto Gismonti. There are inventive horn charts, solid, supple acoustic guitar, brisk yet rich piano work throughout, and performances by bright new talents such as Joyce, Edu Lobo, and the then-ascendant Nara Leao. At center stage is Nunes herself, who sometimes sounds a bit tentative, but overall pleasant and sweet, an echo of Nara, perhaps, but enjoyable nonetheless. This is an album you could enjoy on many an afternoon, as well as on many different levels. Not a classic, but certainly worth tracking down.


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