The singer and songwriter from Rio de Janeiro Marcos Valle.
The singer and songwriter from Rio de Janeiro Marcos Valle. Photo: Disclosure / Far Out Recordings

In 1959, the release of the album Chega de saudade, João Gilberto's luminary debut, was like a renaissance for Brazilian popular music. João's statutes, defended with the strength of his guitar, his whispered singing and the economic lyricism of his songs and of Vinicius de Moraes began to guide the production of that early 1960s. Juscelino Kubitschek, an unprecedented transition was also taking place in our popular music. The drama inherited from bolero, the exacerbated romanticism of passionate lyrics and the recurrent vocal histrionics left the scene to give way to the thematic detachment and harmonic sophistication of bossa nova. Soon the public and the market would welcome new composers, such as Tom Jobim, João Donato, Roberto Menescal, Johnny Alf and Carlos Lyra.

It was in this prolific and stimulating environment that the young composer Marcos Valle began his professional career at the age of 20. One of the architects of the so-called second generation of bossanovistas, escorted by his brother and inseparable lyricist, Paulo Sergio Valle, the singer, composer, pianist and guitarist from Rio de Janeiro debuted in phonographic records in 1963, as an orthodox disciple of João Gilberto, with the album Awesome samba. A plural artist, his career soon unfolded in strands marked by the hybridity of musical genres. Defending a universal sound analogous to the proposals of tropicalismo, but without making it a pamphlet issue, Marcos Valle's bossa gained accents of baião, funk, soul, jazz, rock and even tango.

This is what the recently launched box shows Anything goes, which compiles in 11 CDs the composer's complete production for the label Odeon (today, EMI). Bringing together all the titles released by the musician between 1963 and 1974, Anything goesstill brings an unreleased album, which was named The Lost Sessions, rescued by Charles Gavin from the record company's archives. It would be Marcos' third career album, but it was shelved shortly after the artist's second trip to the United States, in 1966, motivated by the great success of Summer Samba.

Added to CD Static, released in 2010 by Far Out Recordings, an English label that represents the singer since 1997, the 12 titles motivate a review of the importance of the Valle brothers' work and also of the directions taken by MPB in the 1960s and 1970s. Over the course of two hours, We talked to the singer, songwriter and arranger, who lives in Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Rio de Janeiro, and had turned 68 on the eve of the following interview.

Brasileiros – As a child, you were crazy about Luiz Gonzaga and Jackson do Pandeiro. How did a boy from Rio de Janeiro, from Copacabana, become interested in this music that is so northeastern?
Marcos Valle – My father was very fond of popular music and never missed an album by Gonzagão, Jackson and Dorival Caymmi. Dad was called Eurico Paulo Valle – he was a lawyer, he died 19 years ago – and he was very open to music produced in the North and Northeast, because, with the exception of my maternal grandfather – who came from Germany, but also went to live in Belém, where met my grandmother – my whole family is from Pará. Besides the baião, Carnival arrived and I went crazy with the marchinhas and sambas. This strength of popular music moved my mind a lot as a child, but at the same time there was the erudite influence of my maternal grandmother, Alice, who played classical piano. My mother, whose name was Liselotte, often went to my grandmother's house to play the piano, and I remember being fascinated to hear the two of them play. I began to show interest in the instrument, occasionally strumming the piano, until the two began to suspect that I had some inclination towards music. When I was about to turn 6 years old, they decided to take me to a conservatory, in Ipanema, so the teachers could assess whether I really had a vocation or if it was just a dazzle of a mother and grandmother. I took some tests, they concluded that I had a great vocation and they advised me to start studying immediately.

Some time later you also became interested in the accordion.
I studied classical piano for almost eight years, and the accordion, which had been in my head for a long time because of Gonzagão, came about as a result of a party at the house of my paternal grandfather, Eurico de Freitas Valle, who became governor of the For. Grandpa Eurico had a house in Tijuca, one of those beautiful, old houses, and one day he decided to throw a big birthday party for my grandmother. I was around 12 years old, and he invited a musical ensemble to liven up the night. There was a fantastic accordionist, Chiquinho do Acordeom, playing with them. I went crazy when I saw Chiquinho playing. For me, the party ended there. Realizing that I didn't take my eyes off him for a minute, he came to my mother and said: "Liselotte, your son, apparently, is into music." She said yes, that I was studying classical piano, and I, more than quickly, interrupted both of them to say to her: “Mom, I really want to learn to play this!”. Chiquinho encouraged me, he said that I should really study the accordion, because it would give me even more musical possibilities, since I also liked popular music. I started taking the first classes and it was very easy. The teacher soon came to tell me that I didn't need to study anymore. I was 12 to 13 years old. When this passion for the accordion came about, I turned more and more to popular music – to the despair of my grandmother and the classical music teacher –, but the sum of these elements was extremely important to me. He studied Ravel, Debussy, Chopin, with the same interest as he listened to a good baião.

And the guitar? When did you decide to move to the ropes? 
The guitar came a little later, with a passion for João Gilberto and bossa nova. I heard João, back in 1959, right in the heat of the launch of Chega de saudade, and concludes that he needed to learn guitar urgently. I had about three or four classes with a teacher named Paulinho Bertazzo and, soon after, I joined Roberto Menescal and Carlinhos Lyra's academy. In a few days of school the two, by mutual agreement, also came to me and said: “Man, I'm sorry, but I think you already know everything. There's nothing more to study!”. I had all that piano foundation and I just had to master the digital part and the guitar beats, because I already had the musical concepts very strongly, I assimilated everything very quickly. In my works, I ended up using the piano much more than the guitar and accordion. Today I also use an instrument very close to the accordion, the melodica, which is played with wind.

Marcos Valle crouching, standing just above Macaco, Geraldinho Dutra and Marcelo
Marcos Valle crouching, standing just above Macaco, Geraldinho Dutra and Marcelo

And when did you start writing the first compositions?
I started sketching the first songs on the accordion. I wrote naive songs, for my girlfriend, to please the little girls, I played some of them at parties and I even made a little outfit. We played in exchange for sandwiches and sodas. My first serious song was desire of the sea, but it was not the first recorded. Some time later Johnny Alf made a beautiful record of it, but my first recording was Mary's dream, recorded by the Tamba Trio. It was also my first partnership with Paulo Sergio. The lyrics, in fact, were poetry that he had written and he came to ask me if I could set it to music. Something very difficult, because it had a varied meter, which forced me to write four parts for the song, and it was a very good challenge, it enriched the composition.

Anticipating the matter, how can there be such synergy between the two of you? Listening to the dozens of songs you guys made, the impression you get is that everything was made by one person…
I think our greatest asset in producing so many well-resolved songs comes, first and foremost, from the fact that we are such close brothers. Paulo is three years older than me and we are very close. He always tried to understand what I meant, in each of the songs I wrote. He knows my personality and my emotions. Many times I would spend hours playing the piano and he would be far away, just listening to the melody, until he arrived and brought the lyrics to see what I thought. At other times, in a snap, he would come up with virtually definitive ideas. So, I think the fact that we are, in addition to brothers, two guys who are so close, gave us this advantage of doing things that seem to be done by one person.

On your first album, at the age of 20, you are already escorted by first-rate musicians and conductors. How did you approach this group?
A long story, which begins around the age of 11, when I studied at Santo Inácio school and met Edu Lobo. We were in the same class and friends, and one fine day, about eight years later, I got on a bus in Ipanema and bumped into Edu, who I hadn't seen for a long time. We recognized each other, he had a guitar, and then I asked: “Gee, are you into music now, Edu?”. He said: “Yes, actually I always was, my father is Fernando Lobo, composer, I'm also very good friends with Dori Caymmi and we play together”. He asked me: “Why, Mark? Are you into music too?”. I told him: “My life is music, Edu. My family wants me to be a lawyer, but I know I'm not a lawyer at all”. He was very excited and proposed a meeting for us to play together. We exchanged phones before he jumped in and met up days later when he introduced me to Dori. It was all perfect: the same conversation and the same musical intentions. We formed a trio, which did not have a name, but with him we played on some television programs, such as those by Sérgio Porto, by Fernando Lobo himself, Edu's father, and a program by Lúcio Alves, which was on TV Rio. This trio didn't last long, but it opened up many possibilities for me, because Dori and Edu lived in bossa nova circles and I started to frequent those same environments. The first invitation was a meeting at Ary Barroso's house, shortly before he passed away. The whole bossa crowd was there: Carlinhos Lyra, Roberto Menescal, Baden Powell, Ronaldo Bôscoli, Lúcio Rangel, a tough crowd, and I confess that I was very inhibited. By this time I had written six or seven songs – six of which I would eventually record on my first album, Awesome samba - but I didn't have the courage to show them, I was there as a groupie.

And when did that courage come?
It was only on a second date, at Vinicius de Moraes' house, in Guinle Park, at the end of the night, that I had the courage to pick up a guitar and play my songs, that's when I met a guy named Lula Freire, he was a lyricist, super into music, and he had a nice apartment in Ipanema, where most of the bossa gang meetings took place. Lula heard my songs and invited me to go there to show them. A week later, he set up a meeting and asked me and the Tamba Trio to arrive a little early so I could show them Mary's dream. I finished playing and they asked me for the song. The night also revealed other good surprises. The other guests arrived and I met João Donato and Tom Jobim, who also loved my music. A beautiful night. A few days later, Menescal decided to take me to meet Os Cariocas, which was already a famous group, and I showed them my six songs. The Cariocas wanted to record all of them and Menescal took me aside and advised: 'Don't do that, Marcos! You are crazy?! Give a maximum of two songs to each artist'. They chose a song of mine with Paulo Sergio, called Love of Nothing, and another one I had done with Edu, called Let's love. They were the first two songs of mine recorded by them. Then they recorded several others. With that, the doors really opened for me.

With Sylvia Telles, Tom Jobim and Roberto Menescal. Photo- Personal file
With Sylvia Telles, Tom Jobim and Roberto Menescal. Photo: Personal archive

And all this happened in 1962, on the eve of launching the Awesome samba?
Yes, in 1962. Everything happened very fast. Menescal and a singer named Tita, Edu's sister-in-law, who to this day is married to Edson Lobo, encouraged me to go to Odeon to show my songs, because they were very welcoming to that initial bossa production, they had hired João Gilberto, Wilson Simonal was very successful singing bossa, Elizeth, Dóris Monteiro, Pery Ribeiro, everyone recording for Odeon and off I went, accompanied by Menescal and Tita, to show my songs. I entered the artistic directors' office, including Milton Miranda, and Simonal was also present. Very intimidated, I played six songs, and when I was done, I noticed that they were having a little chat. One of the directors looked at me and said: “Look, Marcos, no one is going to record your music here”. I thought: "I got it wrong, I didn't like it". Afterwards, he added: “No one is going to record your music here, because you are going to do that. We will immediately make a record of you.” I left there hired for five years.

Did you already know Eumir Deodato? You invited him to write the arrangements for Awesome samba?
Eumir got into this story because Tom Jobim would be responsible for arranging the album, but Tom was very slow, there was a thing about him having to go to work on his farm and, as a result, it took a long time to produce. With this expectation of delay, Milton Miranda came to me and said: “Marcos, our deadline is short and I know that with Tom it won't work, but I'm going to introduce you to a very young guy, your age, who is a star , he plays with Menescal and is a tremendous arranger. I'm sure you will understand each other very well. I went to Eumir's house and realized right away that we had a lot to do. Eumir wrote beautiful arrangements for the album and we are great friends to this day.

Awesome samba is very connected to the initial theme of bossa, he drinks a lot from the triad love, smile and flower, but already in The Singer and Composer, protest songs begin to emerge, such as People and, ironically, a song that criticizes this new direction, The answer.
When I launched the Awesome samba, in 1963, we were experiencing the last days of democratic Brazil. There was still that spirit of a modern Brazil, inherited from Juscelino, and the expectation of even greater transformations with Jango. Everything happened beautifully in cinema, theater, music, and I, typically bossa nova, would only talk about good things, love, nature, that contemplative spirit, but we arrived in 1964 and all that changed completely. This transformation was a blow for me and for other composers, because my world was music, what I wanted were chords, notes, when I sat at the piano or held a guitar I entered a world of dreams, full of sounds and emotions, where only the music fit, I didn't think about other issues, like the lyricist. When the dictatorship arrived, there began to be an obligation of positioning, because the moment demanded it. Our freedom was curtailed and we somehow had to fight it all. In the beginning, this became a big problem for me, because there was this kind of obligation, and anyone who didn't take a position was labeled alienated. There began to be a certain division between the alienated – Menescal, Tom and others linked to bossa, who were more lyrical – and other composers – Edu Lobo, Ruy Guerra, Geraldo Vandré – who were the participants, there was even the term “participation song”. This division, and this almost obligation, made us write The AnswerThe. Why do you have to sing about misery? The people already suffer from hunger and are we still going to make them sing about hunger? Does the guy live in front of the sea, with his back to the hill, and is he going to talk about the hill? When we started to attend artists' meetings – not just music, but theater, cinema – and we understood the gravity of the moment, we really agreed with the need to say all that. The first stories of torture, disappearances and deaths began to emerge, and it was impossible to remain indifferent.

Then The answer came a little before that awareness and ended up on the same album…
Yes, a little earlier and, as the record takes a while to complete, I ended up writing stuff, like People, which says: “People in life who should not give / Because they never suffered in their lives for not having”. They're both on the same record, and it's funny, because it feels like a contradiction. Shortly after, we also did Nobody's land, launched with great success by Elis Regina, in 1965. At first, we took this path of social criticism, but later, in other works, we embarked on a more behavioral criticism, as we did in Blood Color Mustang, which has a very consistent charge of criticism of industrial society.

In the United States, visiting the composer and conductor Henry Mancini. Photo- Personal file
In the United States, visiting the composer and conductor Henry Mancini. Photo: Personal archive

Some people attribute the arrival of the protest song and the young guard, harmonically very rudimentary, to an early anticipation of the loss of interest in bossa. Do you agree with this analysis?
I think it was something inevitable, that had to happen, because soon after we evolved into tropicalism, something very strong, and intimately linked to a transformation of behavior, with a lot of scenic impact, with all that scenography apparatus, clothes, guitars . Tropicalismo arrives with an impact that bossa nova did not have, which was very contemplative, soft, beautiful music, without that stage power, you have to get into a state of tranquility to listen to bossa nova. Not tropicalismo, it arrived to slay it, it arrived kicking the door. The fact that the bossa gang started to adopt protest lyrics did not match bossa's intentions. You take what Vandré produced and conclude that it has nothing to do with bossa, but you take a song of mine like People and, if you take the lyrics out, she is a bossa nova, that is unquestionable. I think that what made bossa lose prestige was the spirit of the times. New people arriving with a strong convergence of ideas. The political intentions of the protest lyrics also called for a more vehement music, and perhaps bossa nova did not have that same stamp. With regard to my work, I can say that I was greatly influenced by bossa, but even before its arrival, I already had other interests: baião, marchinhas, samba canto, jazz, rock, pop music, American black music. My first record is strictly bossa nova, about the impact of João Gilberto, but on the second record, these other influences start to appear.

His third album was left unfinished, it was interrupted for the LP release braziliance, in the United States, as a result of the success of Summer Samba...
The first invitation I had to go to the United States was in 1964. Sergio Mendes wanted me to go with him and Wanda Sá and I decided not to go, because I was still consolidating my career here. It was him, Wanda, Jorge Ben – who had a resounding success with But, what nothing! e rain, rain -, and the guitarist Rosinha de Valença. The following year, Sérgio invited me again, he insisted a lot and I ended up going. He wanted me to stay and join his group, Brazil 65′, but I went as a special guest, inside his show, and I didn't want to stay. I decided to come back not only to resume my career in Brazil, but also because I really miss this place. I was too young to be away from my family and friends. When I returned, at the beginning of 1966, I had good surprises, because Summer Samba e I need to learn to be alone, from my sophomore album, which was just released, made a big impact and we won several music of the year awards. I decided to come back here at a very happy time, with all this good news.

How did Walter Wanderley (Brazilian organist, ex-husband of Isaurinha Garcia, who had a very successful career in the United States) decided to record Summer Samba by Verve? Did you already know each other?
Yes, I already knew Walter, as I saw many of his shows in São Paulo. I really liked his swing, but I didn't know he had released the track in the US. I learned of the huge success, some time later.

By the way, did you already play the Hammond B-3 (model of the instrument played by Walter, present on several of Marcos' records) during this period?
No, I started playing Hammond later in the Weather forecastIn 1973.

Before that, in Samba 68' and Blood Color Mustang, in 1969, you already write arrangements for Hammond, don't you?
Yes, you're right! At the Mustang and Samba 68′ already has Hammond. An instrument that I adore and Walter was an ace in the B-3. I recorded several songs with him in the United States and playing a guitar accompanying that incredible swing of Walter on the organ was awesome. An instrumental trio lineup that only played Brazilian music to reach the top spots on Billboard and sell like it did was really a great achievement for that time.

Back in Brazil, you start composing for this third album that would be unfinished, but his double compact has two of your songs re-recorded by many people, the crickets e Batucada Emerged.
As soon as I returned to Brazil I started preparing my third album. I did all the bases, orchestrated, put voices on four tracks, recorded and released this double compact with the cricketsBatucada Emergedlove is flame e It is necessary to sing, but with the overflow of Summer Samba in Walter's version, Ray Gilbert, who was Tom's manager and lyricist in the US, asked him to introduce us, because he was so into what I was doing. I decided to follow in Tom's footsteps and did American TV shows from coast to coast. At this point, Summer Samba was already being recorded by several other artists, with English lyrics, by Norman Gimble, the same that poured Girl from Ipanema for Tom. Odeon and Milton Miranda were very nice to me and let me go again. I remember Milton saying “Go away, boy, your time is now and you can't miss it!”. I interrupted the third disc to record the braziliance, an instrumental album, specially made for the American market – it had to get out there with something new. We recorded in Rio and completed the album in the United States. I stayed there for a year and even received an invitation from Verve to release another album, the Samba 68', which was a great success, but, once again, I felt that huge and unbearable longing for Brazil and I decided to go back.

Samba 68' é a lot is cult among Brazilian albums on Verve, it was a great success in the American and European market…
This record has become a classic of my career. It was very important at that time in the American market, but it was also fundamental, years later, for the rediscovery of my work with the young audience in Europe, who started to research and go after my other records. from the Samba 68' again a new market in Europe opened up for me.

This album that has just been rediscovered, the main novelty of the box, ended up being “swallowed” by the braziliance and the Samba 68'?
When I returned to the United States, with the repercussions of the braziliance, this third disc was forgotten. I came back after doing the Samba 68' , and when I got here the bar was very heavy. We were on the eve of AI-5 and I, dying of homesickness, sometimes found myself alone, anguished, crying just thinking about Brazil. I decided to go back anyway. As soon as I arrived there was a party to welcome me at Tom's house, who invited Milton Nascimento especially to introduce me to him. Milton was my fan and wanted to meet me. We became very good friends and, for two years, we worked together, in the studio and in concerts. I also met Edu Lobo again, met Novelli and Ruy Guerra, and got back together with Ronaldo Bastos, who was already a friend of mine, from Friburgo. I did songwriting with all five of them, and this whole new context took my head for a completely different record. Odeon itself did not force a resumption. He saw that the moment was different and I ended up doing the moonlit viola, which was marked by great political force. I completely forgot about this abandoned record until the day Charles came across it in the record company's archives and decided to get it back. I confess that I was fascinated to see what I hadn't finished turning into a CD.

At the piano, in the 1960s. Photo: Personal archive

The conceptual and musical issues of the moonlit violaseem to reach the apex in Blood-Colored Mustang or Honey-Colored Steed…
I agree. from the Mustang, in addition to the growing strength in Paulo Sergio's lyrics, my musical influences are starting to become even more evident. What would be my style is born in the Mustang. It contains elements that I pursue to this day. In terms of lyrics, we were experiencing the economic miracle and Paulo began to shift his gaze to the behavioral transformations of this industrial society that grew up here with increasingly frenetic consumption habits. Later on, he wrote things like “I don't trust anyone over 30”, provocations that are no longer just political. I think from the Mustang, he gained even more personality as a lyricist. Paulo knew like few others what was going through my head.

On those two trips to the United States, was he with you?
No, he stuck around taking care of his stuff. Paulo is an aviator and has always maintained that passion. He came to work in commercial aviation, influenced first by my grandfather and, later, by my father, both were directors of the company Cruzeiro do Sul. My father was a lawyer, but because of his passion for aviation, he ended up specializing in aviation law. A very suitable environment to stimulate Paulo to be interested in aviation. He piloted, taught classes, performed stunts, and to this day flies ultra-light. During those periods when I was away, he dedicated himself even more intensely to aviation.

And did you ever study law?
I even went to college, but I didn't even complete the first year. I wanted to give this joy to my father, but the music spoke louder. Even though Dad was also passionate about music, he was sure that financially it wouldn't get me anywhere. In the middle of the first year of the course, I was invited to play in São Paulo at the Juão Sebastião Bar and I went crazy, because only stars played there. The owner of the house, a great guy called Paulo Cotrim, came to Rio exclusively to convince me to stay at the bar for a while. The problem is that it was a long season. He would play Thursday through Sunday for two months, and to do that he would have to drop out of college. Paulo came home, made me this proposal and, to my father's displeasure, I decided to accept. My mother, who had known for a long time that I wouldn't be a lawyer at all, said: “Paulo, there's no way, let the boy go!”. I went to São Paulo, did a season and never went back to college. When I returned to Rio, I started to do shows at Beco das Garrafas and I concluded that I had nothing to do with this thing.

And how was Beco in those days?
Incredible! At the Little Club, Elis played; at Bottles, Simonal. My show, at Barcará, had me, Dóris Monteiro, Edison Machado, on drums, and Sérgio Barroso, on bass. I played the piano in most of the songs, in others I played the guitar and Tenório Jr took over the piano. Later on, there were two changes: Tenório left and Dom Salvador entered; then Dóris left to enter Leny Andrade! Heavy people and a sensational period of music made there. We did this show at Beco for a long time.

right after the Mustang you released the 1970 record, a much more airy album, apparently without major conceptual concerns.
I really like this 1970 album, because musically I opened a lot of doors with it. The album features members of Som Imaginário (a group led by Zé Rodrix), who I met shortly after my return, and this meeting greatly influenced me to experiment with other sounds. It was a very interesting, mature moment. THE Claw and the Weather forecast, which would come soon after, also have this strong characteristic of experimentation due to my partnership with Azymuth.

Have you always given a lot of freedom to your musicians?
I still like to try new things with people I identify with. The sound brought by others is very important. So much so that I composed, in this 1970 album, the theme Imaginary Suite, as a direct influence of my contact with Som Imaginario. The approach with O Terço also changed directions, the strong characteristic of rock they had also led me to other possibilities in South wind. In the case of O Terço, they were the ones who came to me. I was going to Midem (French music festival, in Greece), along with Maria Bethânia, they knew about it and offered to go with us, even willing to pay their own tickets and expenses just for the interest of accompanying me. I thought “why not?” and I came to the conclusion that it would be perfect. We did three initial songs and ended up playing together at South wind, from 1972. A very communal, very hippie record. We stayed more than two months in a small village in Búzios. We rented two fishermen's houses and put a sign in front of one of them, written "vento sul", that's why we gave the disc that name.

After that, you start playing with Azymuth…
Azymuth has always had a lot to do with me. I was always crazy about Rhodes (classic electric piano model made by Fender) and Bertrami (Azymuth leader José Roberto Bertrami) was too. I met the trio at a perfect time, because I was playing a lot of Rhodes and I asked Bertrami to play Hammond and ARP (one of the first analog synthesizer models) with me at the Weather forecast. There was a lot of affinity between us, so much so that soon after Azymuth became my band. We travel a lot together.

You made another cult album with them, The Fabulous Fittipaldi, the soundtrack of the film about Emerson…
This Fittipaldi trail was a delight to do. That's where the name Azymuth came from. The film was directed by Roberto Farias and Hector Babenco and I don't remember which of the two, but I know that one of them insisted a lot on me using my music azymuth, which was the soundtrack of a novel called Bridal Veil – was the theme of Claudio Marzo, who played a pilot in the soap opera. We made a new version, because the opening of the film was more extensive and the score came from Phillips. The producer of the record was Armando Pittilgliani, who invited these kids – Bertrami, Alex Malheiros, and Ivan “Mamão” Conti – to record with me. They already played as a trio, but they still didn't have a name. In addition to recording the album with them, Bertrami also worked with me on some arrangements. He had a good understanding of orchestration and everything was perfect. As I was from Odeon and the album would be released by Philips, I couldn't put my name as an artist, only as a composer. When it came time to name it, the question remained “who are we going to attribute this to?”. Armando was the one who suggested “how about we put Azymuth Set?”. I made this song in partnership with Novelli, who naturally didn't mind giving the name, and I ended up becoming this kind of godfather to Azymuth.

The 1974 album, the last one in the box, closes a cycle of his work and life, and is also a reflective and dense work. Shortly after, you leave for the United States again and stay there for more than five years…
I invited Tavito to do the vocal arrangements for this 1974 album. He is a master of this art. We fell a lot into these grandiose sounds, but at the same time the record really has that density, because we suffered a lot from censorship. It was a terrible time, having to go to the censors to explain song by song. This record is sad because there really was no way not to talk about those sad things. It's a record is loaded with melancholy. Soon after, I decided to return to the United States and stayed there for another five years. This record has vibrant elements, this kind of epic vocal thing, and I consider it very striking, a temporary farewell record to Brazil.

With his brother and lyricist Paulo Sergio Valle, at the Midem Festival, in Greece, in 1972
With his brother and lyricist Paulo Sergio Valle, at the Midem Festival, in Greece, in 1972

And how was this longer period away from the country?

I arrived in the United States in a very different condition from the other times, when I went at the invitation of Sérgio Mendes and because of the success of Summer Samba. This time I went on my own, very upset about all these terrible things happening in Brazil. I wasn't sure how long I would stay and, at first, I went to New York because Eumir Deodato lived there and wanted me to stay close to him. I stayed at a hotel called the Adams Hotel and even made a song called Adams Hotel, which Eumir ended up recording on his album called First Cuckoo and was a great success. The Adams was a very old hotel, close to Central Park, one of Tom's favorites, and I stayed there at a time when I had several meetings with Tom. We'd go to Central Park together to chat. Some time later, I rented an apartment near Eumir, but, although I love New York, as I have this strong connection with nature, sun and beach, I saw that it wasn't my place and decided to go to Los Angeles, on that basis see what it's going to do.

And how did you approach Sarah Vaughan?
As soon as I arrived in Los Angeles, Sarah Vaughan was recording an album called Songs of The Beatles, with arrangements and production by Marty Paich, who was the great orchestrator of Sinatra, Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Jr., Marty made several records that I loved and was now working on this new record by Sarah with her son, David Paich. The two wanted a Brazilian touch on one of the tracks – which was Something, by George Harrison – and through Sergio Mendes they came to me. Of course, I thought the invitation was wonderful, I went back home, made an arrangement and wrote a lyric in Portuguese, very faithful to Harrison's original, but well balanced, with that Brazilian accent. At the first hearing they thought the version was wonderful. I became very good friends with Sarah and she wanted to record two of my songs, I need to learn to be alone e Your Charm, which turned The Face I Love. I suggested to her that she record an album with only Brazilian music, she loved the idea and ended up making two: i love Brazil e Brazilian Romance. I stayed there, and one fine day I met the people from Chicago, a group that I liked a lot, because they had that mixture of rock, jazz, funk and Latinities. My friend, Laudir de Oliveira, a great percussionist, played with them and the band, knowing I was in Los Angeles, asked Laudir to introduce me to them. I went to visit them at a rehearsal and took the The Fabulous Fittipaldi for them to hear. They went crazy for the record. When I said that I had recorded everything on four channels, they said I was slutty. They asked me for a song and I decided to write a new song with Laudir, especially for them. Laudir didn't compose and I told him: “You've never made music, it's about time!”. Exited Life is What It Is, which is in the album Chicago 13. A mix of samba and rock.

And how did you meet Leon Ware?
Soon after, Robert Lamm, who is one of the great composers of Chicago, wrote lyrics for a song of mine called Love is a Simple Thing, and this song was shown to Leon Ware, who loved the recording and also wanted to meet me. I went to a studio to meet him and I, addicted to black music and Marvin Gaye as I am, was suddenly there listening to Marvin's greatest musical partner recording that beautiful version of my song. How wonderful! We talked after the recording and he turned out to be a big fan of my work. He knew most of my songs and proposed that we do something together. We made several songs, recorded by Leon, and I joined his group. Just me there in white in the middle of that bunch of black people and he would say to me “You think you're white, boy… in white you only have skin and that blond hair, but you're black!”. I stayed there, without thinking about Brazil, soon after, Airto Moreira invited me to arrange his album Touching You… Touching Me. When I realized it had already been five years. It was then that I decided to return to Brazil and started to prepare the album I want to see you again, which even has two tracks accompanied by Chicago. In fact, what happened is that I came to spend my vacation here, but when I saw Rio de Janeiro, in an absolutely beautiful late afternoon in Arpoador, I thought “my god in heaven, I have to go back to this land”. Paulo Sergio, realizing this, said: “Man, it's time for you to come back!”. He went to Som Livre and they said: “Damn, if your brother comes back, we'll hire him right away!”.

And Som Livre didn't do too bad, because soon after you had a tremendous success with star
This success of the star, one of the last songs I did with Leon, but it didn't have lyrics. When I came back and recorded the first record I didn't even get to show it. It was time to record the second one and Max Pierre, producer at Som Livre, suggested inviting Lincoln Olivetti to write the arrangements, as he was a big fan of my work. I also loved the things Lincoln had done and I was on board right away. I remember that I showed this demo to the two of them and the recording was pure swing, but it had no defined melody, there was only a guitar phrase that suggested a melody. Lincoln and Max were crazy about the base, and we decided that a new song would come out of it. We decided to reproduce that and did everything exactly the same as the arrangement I wrote with Leon, but the point is that the record was coming to an end and the lyrics didn't come out. We put the recording to play at the highest pitch, over and over, until Paulo Sergio came to ask me what could be a starting point for the lyrics, and I told him “man I don't know, I just know that this song has an absurd energy ”. He had a snap and associated energy with gymnastics, physical exercise and people's growing concern to stay in shape with the arrival of summer. I took the division of that guitar phrase, perforated it to adjust the meter and that's it! It was supposed to be just a joke with this paranoia of having to get in shape, but the music exploded. I remember going out on the street and children would come to talk to me, ladies would come to tell me excitedly: “My son, thanks to you I got up the courage and went to do gymnastics!”.

After this great success People's Time is released in 1986 and you enter another long hiatus, it is only ended when you are rediscovered in Europe and invited to record, in London, the new bossa nova, in 1997…
I decided to give it some time, but in the late 1980s some London DJs, starting from Samba 68, started to rediscover my music and went after the other albums. I didn't even suspect it, but I started to enter the field of interests of a new group that liked quality dance music, they used Dave Brubeck, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles as a basis for their songs. Their thing was the swing thing, but with improvisation and good melodies. I was out of all this until, in 1994, Joyce, who started to play some shows in Europe, as a result of this new circuit that was being created, started telling me these stories and I thought it was wonderful. I remember she said: “So, if you're enjoying it, Marcos, get ready, because the managers will look for you. Their discs are already being pirated and entering compilations here. I'm sure a new market will open up for you. They even want us to do shows together. I'll refer you to a record company, Far Out Recordings, which is owned by a DJ named Joe Davis, a very young guy. If you can find him there in Rio, you will like him very much”. In fact the record companies started looking for me and Joe came to Brazil. I went to dinner with him and I really liked his crazy way, Joe knows everything I did. I decided to sign with Far Out and I'm there, to this day. I went to London to do my first show at a trendy place called the Jazz Café and I came face to face with this new group of fans that I didn't even know existed.

There weren't any invitations here for you to record?
Here the market was very still. What I had were invitations to make records with guests, re-recording my hits, and I wasn't interested in that kind of work at all. I respect a lot whoever does it, but it's not my face. This rediscovery came at a very opportune time.

In 1978, while residing in Los Angeles. Photo- Personal file
In 1978, while residing in Los Angeles. Photo: Personal archive

With the democratization of the internet and access to music made all over the world, you have certainly gained even more fans in the last decade…
Indeed, interest in my work has taken an even greater leap in recent years. When it all started to happen, in the late 1990s, this London audience ended up spreading across Europe. I have a lot of fans in Italy, in France. And people naturally expected me to release a new record. Keep thinking, “But will they like a new job? These folks are in love with the magic of a guy who is there in the past.” I was lucky because I launched the new bossa nova, the first album of this new phase and it was a tremendous success. Since then, my audience has only grown.

And what do you think of the negative consequences of this internet revolution, such as the loss of copyright?
Like almost everything, the internet is an issue that has its pros and cons. The cons, of course, are linked to the inability to be paid for artistic creation. Today, in terms of record sales, nobody is going to get rich anymore. That phase is gone. But the concept of the album is still very important, because it motivates the concerts, the new musical encounters, and the free download opens up an infinite range of dissemination. Something very difficult to do with such a reach, if it weren't for the advances of the internet. Mallu Magalhães, for example, Marcelo Camelo's girlfriend, benefited greatly from this. The artist no longer depends on the record company to reach the public. I personally watched it all up close. See what happened to me in Europe, from the late 1990s onwards… It had everything: pirated disc, pirated compilation, free download of all my work, but that was all that motivated me to come back. It is inevitable and positive. It is the language of these younger people and of these new times. Who really suffers is the guy who is just a composer or just a lyricist, who doesn't make money on stage.

And how was it to produce Static, this latest album released along with the box?
I really liked the result. THE Static was also highly praised abroad (the album was released with the title esphere by Far Out in 2010). It even entered some lists as one of the ten albums of the year, won five stars from the All Music guide and is being very important to consolidate my recovery. Some critics even exaggerated, saying that there is Static the strength of a first album. Funny because I also end up being very influenced by this rediscovery process. It is something that guides me and helps me to continue producing. I compare the Static with the albums in the box, for example, and I see how it has a lot of similarities with things I've done in the past. These younger people did something very important for me, they put me in permanent contact with my own music.

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