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Pery Ribeiro portrait Crooner Pery Ribeiro is one of the all-time archetypal cheesy ballad singers of Brazil... He came of age in the bossa nova era, but forged ahead with a style more drenched in the lachrymose traditions of the Latin American bolero... I suppose he's sort of the Tony Bennett of Brazil... Or perhaps, more aptly, the Jack Jones of Rio de Janeiro... Ribeiro's early claim to fame is having recorded the first commercial version of "Girl From Ipanema" -- he went on to a long solo career, as well as making several duets records, notably with jazz singer Lene Andrade. Here's a quick look at his work...


Pery Ribeiro "Pery E Todo Bossa" (EMI, 1963)
(Produced by Milton Miranda & Lyrio Panicalli)
Ribeiro was a bossa-era pop vocalist, with more than a hint of Johnny Mathis candlelight crooning in him. His earlier stuff is perky, bright, and kinda square. Like other Brazilian pop singers who latched onto the bossa sound, Ribeiro was nowhere near as cool as the real deal (i.e. Joao Gilberto), though he's not without his charms. The '63 album is certainly an interesting historical curio, but maybe not so arresting, after, lo, these many years.

Pery Ribero & Leny Andrade "Gemini V: Show Da Boite Porao 73" (Odeon, 1965)
This concert album documents the "Gemini V" concert series, staged in Sao Paulo in 1965 by songwriter Ronaldo Boscoli and impressario Luis Carlos Miele, which turned out to be one of the most popular bossa nova shows of its time. The music is fairly typical of bossa-jazz albums of the time, marked by a fairly plinky trio accompaniment (courtesy of Luiz Carlos Vinhas and Bossa Tres), with a brisk, cabaret-tinged feel to it. Can't say I care much for jazz singer Leny Andrade's husky vocal tone, and her emulation of Ella Fitzgerald is a little too obvious (and ineffective, given the musical limitations). The robust Ribeiro, on the other hand, comes off pretty well in a live, duet-vocals setting -- it pushes him a little further than on solo projects I've heard elsewhere, and the richness of his voice stands out. Again, this is pretty typical of its times, but real jazz fans may find it a bit limited, even if Bossa Tres are a bit more nuanced and harmonically rich than many of their jazz trio contemporaries. Besides... those live medleys always give me a bit of a sweet pain...

Pery Ribeiro & Bossa Tres "Encontro" (EMI-Odeon, 1966)

Pery Ribeiro "Pery Ribeiro" (EMI-Odeon, 1971)
(Produced by Lindofo Gaya)

A torturously over-orchestrated pop-vocals schmaltzfest. Over-the-top romantic vocals, frequently overwhelmed by busy, overly-clever arrangements. If you like your cornball pop way overcooked, and enjoy the sheer camp of it all, this album might be for you. I can't stand it: Maestro Gaya clearly took it as an opportunity to throw in the kitchen sink and try out whatever he wanted, and Ribeiro clearly didn't care. (That being said, the tracks "Praca 11" and "Canto Puro Amor" are nice emblems of the non-avant Brazilian pop of the time; it's the equivalent of listening to an old Mac Davis album, or something like that... Not great music, but amazing kitsch.)

Pery Ribero & Leny Andrade "Gemini -- Cinco Anos Depois" (EMI-Odeon, 1972)
A reunion show, marking the fifth anniversary of their well-recieved "Gemini" show...

Pery Ribeiro "Heranca" (EMI-Odeon, 1973)
Even though I'm not the world's biggest Pery Ribeiro fan (see above) even I have to admit that this is a pretty solid album, for the style. Yes, it's syrupy and romantic, melodramatic to be sure, but the arrangements (mostly by J. T. Meirelles) and Ribeiro's performance are both restrained and authoritative... Classy, even. It's a solid post-bossa pop vocals set, and worth checking out if you'd like to check out some of the squarer pop of MPB's golden years.

Pery Ribeiro "Bronzes E Cristais" (EMI-Odeon, 1976)
An unbelievably cheesy set of ballads and pure slush. And yet, it's also musically solid, very focussed and stylistically reserved -- a very strong album for the style. Certainly part of it is the heft of the backing band, which includes pianists Laercio De Freitas and Gilson Peranzzetta, guitarist Geraldo Vespar and Wilson Das Neves on drums, as well as some very stately arrangements by Maestro Lindolfo Gaya, and Eduardo Souto Neto. Most of the songs sound the same -- slow, richly orchestrated MPB ballads -- but there are a couple of noteworthy exceptions, including a tango song ("Gas Neon," written by Luiz Gonzaga, Jr.) which is pretty unusual for Brazilian music. Ultimately, this isn't an album I'd ever want to hear again, but if you're a fan of the style, this is probably one you won't want to miss.

Pery Ribeiro "...Sings Bossa Nova Hits" (EMI, 1979)
(Produced by Antonio Carlos de Oliveira, arrangements by Aluizio Pontes)
This album, from 1979, is pretty awful -- English-language versions of bossa nova oldies, all set to some incredibly static arrangements. All the songs sound the same, and are only mildly compelling...

Pery Ribero "Tributo A Taiguara" (Movieplay/Ovacao, 1999)


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