Thursday, April 14, 2016

Renato Braz, Saudade

The Portuguese term "saudade" has an entire musico-cultural wellspring of meaning surrounding it when it comes to both Portuguese and Brazilian music. A Portuguese translator, nice fellow, I used to work with in my office editorial days told me it was essentially untranslatable. But not if you listen enough to music with that quality, either with Portuguese Fado or Brazilian Bossa-Samba-Song. It is all about either what someone has lost and will never have again, or what one never did and never would have in life but still longed for. It is about the beauty of an aching nostalgia for what cannot be, the deeply sad but transcendent feeling of what is not there for you. Music with this feeling if done right has the sort of beauty that can bring tears or chills, or both.

With this in mind we get a beautiful album of songs sung by Renato Braz, entitled very appropriately Saudade (Living Music LMU-48). Renato gives us a spate of wonderful Brazilian songs, sung with great lyrical feeling, accompanied by his nylon string guitar, and, among others, the Paul Winter Consort, in a welcome return.

Renato's version of the Dori Caymmi-Nelson Motta perennial "O cantador" will give you Renato's beautiful saudade approach. The chorus and how his voice expresses so much in it tells us all we need to know. But of course there is much more here, songs by Chico Buarque, Antonio Carlos Jobim and lots of others, songs that have a way of getting to the essence of it all. Some are new to me. They may not be to others. What matters is they have that special way about them.

Renato Braz and his singular voice is the focal point around which the songs pivot. The arrangements are lyrically strong as well. Braz has that it that makes everything right on the album. The time is never wrong for true saudade. Like the blues, it is perennial. And the time seems exceptionally right for it now. Hear this!


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