VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Djavan Mixtape”
Source: Breath of Life (BoL Mixtape – March 30, 2009)
I don’t understand Portuguese.
I generally don’t like pop music.
So here I am featuring Djavan, a consumate Brazilian MPB artist. MPB—popular music of Brazil—appeals to me. Rather than pontificate about this or that reason why MPB is attractive and other pop music turns me off, I’ll simply say what we said in high school about our school boy crushes: I don’t know why, I just like her.
Djavan Caetano Viana was born January 27, 1949 in Alagoas, Brazil, located in the Northeast. He moved to Rio in 1973. In 1976 he released his first album, A Voz, O Violão, A Música de Djavan, which contained the major hit “Flor de Lis.” From there Djavan released a string of albums that contained what are now regarded as standards of MPB.
In 1999 Djavan released a 2-volume concert recording, Ao Vivo, which sold well over a million copies and won a 2000 Latin Grammy.
I think what I like most about Djavan’s music is it’s eclecticism—you can hear bits of all kinds of music in what he does. Some of the more recent work is too slick for my tastes but the man is on top of his songwriting game, plus he is an engaging performer.
The mixtape is three-fourths interpretations of Djavan songs by fellow Brazilian artists and one fourth (four tracks) Djavan singing his hits. Djavan’s tracks are taken from his major album Ao Vivo. Except for the first song, the other tracks are from Djavan songbook/tribute albums, which unfortunately are only available as specialty imports.
One quick note: these songs are guitar-based and are shaped in such a way that they are simultaneously ingenious in structure and relatively easy to sing.
“Sina,” the opening track featuring Renato Vargas is a perfect summation of Djavan’s immense popularity and songwriting skill. Vargas performs solo accompanying himself on guitar but to hear the audience reaction and participation, you’d believe this was an arena concert with laser lights, forty-foot banks of speaks, giant video screens and scantily clad dancers.
Not only is it obvious that the audience adores the song as they sing along loudly (and in tune!) but also by the second chorus you might find yourself humming along.
Djavan is adept at crafting memorable melodies; not just hooks or a catchy chorus but entire songs that feel right in one’s mouth even if you don’t speak the language.
While not quite as adventurous as Stevie was in his prime, within the context of MPB, Djavan is every bit as influential a songwriter.
I confess. Unlike Milton Nascimento whose work I closely follow, Djavan ran beneath my radar for a long, long time. Hopefully, this mixtape will help you get to him quicker than it took me. I strongly urge you to start with Ao Vivo, which is the only album in the mixtape that is easily available.
I wish I could explain more about Djavan’s music but I’ve just about exhausted my objective knowledge.
Fortunately the only guide you need to start appreciating Djavan is your own two ears.
—Kalamu ya Saaam
Djavan Mixtape playlist
01 “Sina” – Renato Vargas – O Som do Barzinho 5
02 “Se” – Be Happy e Kiko Continentino – Songbook Djavan Vol.3
03 “Luz” – Arthur Maia & Claudio Zoli – Por Eles
04 "Maáa Do Rosto" – Lenine – Por Eles
05 “Na Linha Do Equador” – Caetano Veloso – Por Eles
06 “Sina” – Sandra de Sa – Por Elas
07 “Linha do Equador” – Claudio Zoli – Songbook Djavan Vol.2
08 “Seduzir” – Rosa Passos – Por Elas
09 “Faltando Um Pedaço” – Gal Costa – Por Elas
10 “Outono” – Angela Roro – Por Elas
11 “Esquinas” - Ze Ricardo – Songbook Djavan Vol.2
12 “Esquinas” – Djavan – Ao Vivo
13 “Flor de Lis” – Djavan – Ao Vivo
14 “Faltando Um Pedaço” – Djavan – Ao Vivo
15 “Nem Um Dia” – Djavan – Ao Vivo
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