Brazil banner -- link to main page

Sylvia Telles portrait One of the few pre-bossa nova vocalists to really make a go of it after Joao Gilberto and Tom Jobim hit the scene, Sylvia Telles was also one of the duo's first champions in the late 1950s. Her recording career spanned back to 1955; in 1956 she recorded one of the earliest Jobim songs, "Foi A Noite," and later made several recordings that were considered definitive versions, such as her rendition of "Dindi." Telles was one of the major stars of the early '60s, but died tragically young in a 1966 auto accident, leaving behind an all-too brief recorded legacy. She was also the mother of singer Claudia Telles, whose own solo career began in the 1970s, and has stretched out for several decades. Here's a quick look at Sylvinha's work...


Sylvia Telles "Caricia" (Odeon, 1957)

Sylvia Telles "Silvia" (Odeon, 1958)

Sylvia Telles "Amor De Gente Moca" (Odeon, 1959)

Sylvia Telles "Amor Em Hi-Fi" (Philips, 1960)
A smooth, mellow, but also kind of old-fashioned album, made as the newborn bossa nova scene was at its crest. On the opening track, Jobim's "Samba Torto," Telles is at her best -- her voice is crystalline and gorgeous, the arrangements are powerful and bright. She loses some ground on the North American standards medley that follows, singing Sammy Cahn's "All The Way" with clarity and conviction, but missing the lilt in Gershwin's "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Then as she moves through a series of newly-minted bossa tunes by Carlos Lyra, Roberto Menescal, Sergio Ricardo and the rest of the gang, Telles settles into some of the fusty, formulaic dance sounds of the old-school Brazilian studio system -- her version of Joao Gilberto's "Oba-La-La," stands out in particular as almost a parody of the cheerful bounciness he'd infused the song with originally. Although she was a patron and heroine of the bossa set, her recordings often seem to fall prey to the whims of the old-guard studio producers. Still... there is that voice, that lovely, youthful voice! For that alone, and for the historical significance, this album is certainly worth checking out.

Sylvia Telles "Sylvia Telles -- USA" (Philips, 1961)

Sylvia Telles "Bossa Balanco Balada" (Elenco, 1963)

Sylvia Telles/Lucio Alves/Roberto Menescal "Bossa Session" (Elenco, 1964)
(Produced by Aloysio De Oliveira)

Well into the bossa years, Telles was a much looser, much lusher singer, and these relaxed, swinging recordings made for Aloysio De Oliveira's Elenco label are among some of the best material in the Elenco catalog. Telles is joined by another old-timer, samba crooner Lucio Alves, who also sounds in a pretty good mood. I'm not sure, but I believe guitarist-composer Roberto Menescal provides backup on all these tracks; his group also performs several instrumental numbers. The pacing of this album is quite nice, too... it's been reissued on CD and is well worth tracking down!

Sylvia Telles "The Face I Love" (Kapp, 1964)

Sylvia Telles "The Music Of Mr. Jobim" (Elenco/Kapp, 1965)
(Produced by Aloysio De Oliveira)

This was her last album to be released before her untimely death in 1966... Packed with English-language translations of many of Jobim's best early songs, this disc was recorded in Brazil, but intended for an American audience... Although Telles sounded much more comfortable with English than many Brazilians, the actual translations -- particularly those by Ray Gilbert -- seem kinda clunky, and the album often lacks spark. Maestro Lindolfo Gaya's arrangements also seem somewhat overlarge and overripe (although I'm sure there are many out there who will vehemently disagree with me on both points...) Anyway, for whatever reason, this album didn't really move me much. It's not horrible or anything, but it seems a little too show-bizzy and less fluid than it could have been. Still... it's real, live, high-class bossa, from back in the genre's heyday... So it's probably worth checking out.

Sylvia Telles/Edu Lobo/Quinteto Villa-Lobos/Tamba Trio "Reencontro" (Elenco, 1966)


Sylvia Telles "O Talento De Silvia Telles" (EMI, 1995)
This best-of collection leans heavily on the Jobim songbook, with just a smattering of other songwriters, such as Fernando Cesar, Garoto and Carlos Lyra included on the sidelines. These are early recordings, made between 1957-59, when the bossa nova clique was still just breaking into the industry: this is the mainstream establishment's take on their music. What's interesting is how easily the distinctive melodies of such frequently-recorded classics such as "A Felicidade," "Discussao," etc. were lost inside the stiff, pop standards-style arrangements of the time. But for a feel for how these songs entered the canon, this disc may be worth checking out.

Sylvia Telles "The Voice I Love" (El/Cherry Red, 2006)
A best-of set combining songs from the albums It Might As Well Be Spring and The Face I Love.

Sylvia Telles "It Might As Well Be Spring"

Sylvia Telles "Pure Bossa Nova" (Verve, 2008)


Main Brazil Index

Copyright owned by Slipcue.Com.  All Rights Reserved.  
Unauthorized use, reproduction or translation is prohibited.