Thursday, February 14, 2008

Elis

Elis Regina - Ladeira da Preguiça
When I first visited Brazil in the summer (winter in Sao Paulo) of 2004 I was ostensibly there to do some research about the Landless Workers' Movement, otherwise known as the MST, and excited as I was to be doing that, I had ulterior motives.

I came to buy as many Brazilian records as my hard-earned student loans could afford. I wasn't even thinking too much about how I was going to get them home. That inevitability dawned on me about a week or two before leaving. I managed to pack everything that was not a record into an overstuffed "carry-on" leaving my checked baggage for my records. Two boxes of records at about 75 pounds each. And that wasn't all. I had to send another box through the mail, which despite my best efforts at packing it securely, arrived in the US in a completely different cardboard box with one record (that I can remember: Francoise Hardy) missing. When I landed at JFK in New York I stubbornly took the subway home, wheeling nearly two-hundred pounds of records and personal belongings through the complicated labyrinth that is getting from JFK to anywhere else in NYC.

This is all to say that I am still pulling out records from that first trip that I have yet to listen to. This Elis Regina album was one of those, until recently. I had heard the above song on the Elis Regina DVD that I just posted about over at Soul Spectrum Videos, but I never bothered to check if the song was available on any albums, let alone an album I had in my collection. Then, the other day over at Black Betty, Greg Caz played the same song early in his set and I had to know which album it was on. Doh, an album I already owned. This is not the first time this very thing has happened, particularly with Greg on the schooling side of the exchange. The good news is that I have it and that it's a great song written by Gilberto Gil for Elis Regina specifically. The band is headed by Elis's then-husband Cesar Camargo Mariano, formerly of Som Tres and later of Cesar Camargo Mariano & CIA.

The trio here is extremely tight and Elis is untouchable on her vocal delivery. It really sounds effortless the way she sings around the melody, speeding up and slowing down her cadence without ever missing a beat. The song title means something like "Lazy Slope" and without translating all of the lyrics, the title seems fitting the way she bounces along the duration of the song in a carefree, lazy fashion. The song is effervescent enough as it is, so it suits Elis' style perfectly as one of the most playful vocalists from Brazil, or anywhere for that matter. If you need a second piece of evidence, check out her duet with Tom Jobim on his classic "Aguas de Marco" from 1974 (top five songs of mine - all time) also posted over at Soul Spectrum Videos.

Seeing or hearing her perform in her bubbly, endearing style it's not wonder that she was the darling of the Brazilian public. With all that energy its also not too surprising that she had a wee-bit of a drug problem, which resulted in her premature passing in 1982.

You can't really lose with any Elis album. They're all good. She's was a world-class vocal interpreter and she picked superb songs to cover, which made for excellent albums, particularly the ones from the early seventies with her husband, Cesar, leading the band. We miss you Elis! Elis, temos saudade de voce!

1 comment:

disco connie said...

Just catching up on this a bit late but wanted to say that I love Elis. I buy her stuff whenever I see it and she always brings it. Thanks for posting