I don't know how he does it, but he does it again. Rare groove, Brazilian tracks from label vaults to put together the "Viagem" series. I admit that when this series started, I thought it may last just one or two volumes. But fast-forward a very quick 5 years, and here we are at number 5. Full credit to the Far Out Records crew for knowing that when they have someone with such a depth knowledge of Brazilian music, like Nicola Conte has, then they have to use it. Mr. Conte, for those new to him and the series, is an Italian musician, producer and DJ who is gifted in all three. He usually releases albums of his own on Idizioni-Ishtar/Schema records in Italy, or Blue Note Records. Here, he works with London based label Far Out Recordings, occasionally focusing on specific music labels on the scene at the time.
This, Viagem 5, doesn't disappoint. It starts out well with the wonderful Quarteto 004's "Vou Te Contar". Others may know the song by the title 'Wave'. It has a real cool, harmonized barbershop singing on the boardwalk of Copacabana feel to it. Lovely intro. Sweet vocals follow with "Onda Quebrando" and then Breno Sauer Quartet's take on the Jorge Ben classic "Take it Easy My Brother Charlie". There's something about the original I still prefer to this one here, but it's still rather good. Nicola dug up a pretty obscure version of "Vim De Santana", which I remember from Quarteto Novo. Indeed, it may have even featured in an earlier Viagem album; I like the song but the transfer of the song is admittedly off somewhat, either because the vinyl itself is that worn/old or the stylus was dirty. Papudinho's "Ye Mele" was also very good, and for fans of Nicola Conte and his remixing days, you should recognize the harmonizing intro because he used it on his own remix to Jaffa's "Elevator" circa 2000-2001. Other songs I enjoyed were the dancing vocals on "Olhou Pra Mim", Grupo Arembebe's "Iaia", Nelsinho and Os Ipanemas (yes!) "Babalao" and Marilia Medalha's "Zana". The hilight of the album to be though was Elizabeth Viana's "Se Voce Quiser Mas Sem Bronquear". It's sun-drenched with playful vocal fitting for any beach, either in Brasil or Italy. A true rarity, it's what the series is all about.
I recommend this. While you may have a song duplicate (to the prior 4 Viagems), the renditions are unique enough to give a fresh perspective of the title. Also, it's well worth the purchase to complete the collection; with 5 Viagem's, it's a healthy amount of Brazilian rare-groove that's off the more well known Bossa Nova path. These songs are so good, they paint a picture of the musical scene of the era in which they were born. Released in May, it was a great album to usher in the warmer days the summer would bring. But I couldn't give it five stars as some of the tracks suffered from the same fidelity issue that Theo's song had. Also, I would have liked to have had a better list of the songs in the cd with the artists making up the groups, and some additional history. This is something Soul Jazz Records does incredibly well. But these are not enough to recommend against the album and I'd recommend a hard copy over compressed if at all possible.
Finally, if you do have this and enjoy it be sure to check out the previously mentioned Viagem's 1-4, a vinyl title "Velha Bossa Nova", a series on Verve records titled "Blue Brazil: Blue Note in a Latin Groove", and finally Soul Jazz Recording's albums titled "Bossa Nova: Rise of Brazilian Music", "Bossa Beat", and "Bossa Jazz". Of course, beware of song duplication between these compilation series.