Monday, April 28, 2008

Marcos Valle . . . Beyond the 'Classic Years'

There are many favorite artists of mine that I have yet to discuss in this space, but Marcos Valle is by far one of the most important. When I was first exploring Brazilian music and starting to collect vinyl I took a chance on a record I saw reviewed at dustygroove called "The Essential Marcos Valle, Volume 2" (I had to wait a couple years for Volume 1 to get repressed before I could pick that one up). It took me a few listens to figure out what I was listening to and trying to fit it into my limited understanding of Brazilian music, but pretty soon Marcos became a cornerstone of my love of 1960s and 1970s Brazilian pop music alongside Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben.

Marcos Valle was an extremely prolific music writer and recording artist from 1963 until 1974 with 11 albums under his own name as well as regular Brazilian soap-opera soundtracks, movie soundtracks, the occasional one-off album without his name attached and even the soundtrack to the Brazilian Sesame Street, Vila Sesamo!

But when you look at his discography there is a major gap from 1974-1981 when he didn't release a single album in the U.S. or in Brazil. This always bewildered me especially as Marcos' releases were always such quality products and he is a very well known artist in Brazil. Upon further research we find that after his self-titled 1974 album Marcos came to the U.S. to try his hand for the second time in the American music business. Upon arrival in the U.S. he connected with a diverse group of musicians including Motown recording artist and producer, Leon Ware, the band Chicago and David (well-known songwriter and leader of the band Toto) and his father, Marty Paich, the veteran jazz arranger. It was through Marty that Marcos was introduced to Sarah Vaughan who was beginning a project covering Beatles' songs and wanted a Bossa Nova treatment for the George Harrison tune, "Something." This linked interview gets some of the details wrong (the song was "Something" not "Yesterday" for instance) but shows Marcos discussing this part of his career with an Australian radio journalist.

Sarah Vaughan - Something (with Marcos Valle)
I've always liked Sarah Vaughan, but I can't say this is one of my favorite albums of hers. I picked this one up recently purely on Marcos' participation. I do love his arrangement of this song and especially his Portuguese lyric at the end. Sarah's vocals are a bit strained and overpowering for the gentle arrangement, but it's an interesting listen nonetheless.

Marcos Valle - Paraiba Nao e Chicago (with Chicago)
Marcos returned to Brazil in the early 1980s and made this LP upon his return. It features a handful of songs that he co-wrote with Leon Ware while in L.A. and this song here is no exception. Peter Cetera, before his Karate-Kid soundtrack days, also chips in on back-up vocals and writing credits. It's cool to listen to this album and Marcos's next album from 1983 alongside Leon Ware's two Elektra albums to hear the American and Brazilian versions of the same songs. For instance, Ware's version of this song is called "Baby Don't Stop Me" and is off of his 1981 album "Rockin' You Eternally." Peter Cetera's vocals are pretty clear in the background on this one.

Marcos Valle - Agua de Coco
Here we have a much later Marcos cut from his 2003 album, "Contrasts" on Far Out. I completely dismissed his newer albums until a friend, Elan, suggested I give them a closer listen. This track is one of my favorites of his newer stuff. I hope to meet Marcos some point in the future. We spoke a couple times on the phone last time I was in Brazil, but we couldn't figure out a time to get together . . . If only he would play New York sometime soon.

I've posted some other Marcos Valle videos over on SS Videos . . .


Anonymous said...

Hi Ambassador

Just a quick email to try and get you interested in a site I've just built for Mr Bongo. The site's at:

and its to promote the release of their Brazilian Beats series on an epic 80 track download.

Best wishes


There are mp3s online at:

Boogaloo Combo - Hot Pants Road (Phat Kev Re-edit)

Luiz Gonzaga - Festa De São João

J Thyme...kind said...

If you line up all songs from Essential Marcos Valle vols.1 & 2 in a row they add up to a very tasty, never boring, quite diverse 29 song romp that very few artists can match. If any? Massively talented!

Simon666 said...

Hello there, though you might enjoy my Leon Ware post which examines the Ware/Valle axis a bit.
All the best,
Simon from Never Enough Rhodes