01 Jongo (Paulo Bellinati) – 06:01
02 Bye Bye Brasil (Roberto Menescal/Chico Buarque) – 03:40
03 Pulo do Gato (Paulo Bellinati) – 08:00
04 Ciranda (Rodolfo Stroeter/Paulo Bellinati) – 05:36
05 Fogo no Baile (Nelson Ayres) – 06:51
06 Bachianas Brasileiras nº 5 Ária da Cantilena (Heitor Villa-Lobos) – 06:25
07 Bachianas Brasileiras nº 5 Dança/Martelo (Heitor Villa-Lobos) – 04:21
08 Na Baixa do Sapateiro (Ary Barroso) – 10:31
After a lengthy hiatus, followed by infrequent performances since 2002, Pau Brasil went back into the studio in June, 2005, to produce their eighth album for the Biscoito Fino label. The group’s quiet return (with Nelson Ayres, Rodolfo Stroeter, Paulo Bellinati and Teco Cardoso) included a new member: Ricardo Mosca, already known, at that time, as a drummer for the Mani Padme Trio, a new arrival on São Paulo’s instrumental scene.
“When I joined Pau Brasil, I was surprised at how much creative freedom I was given”, says Mosca, highlighting the fact that he had been expecting the exact opposite. “Coming from a group that featured some of the most important drummers in Brazilian music, such as Azael Rodrigues, Zé Eduardo Nazario and Nenê, I expected them to want me to play the same way or in the same idiom as these great masters, but that’s not how it was. They gave me total freedom to inject my own personality into the group’s music”.
Stroeter recalls how he met Mosca and enjoyed his playing at more or less the same time he met Nelson Ayres. “We already knew, sort of intuitively, he was a guy who could contribute enormously to the group. Mosca isn’t just a drummer; his collaboration is constantly creative”, observes the double bass player, underscoring the fact that his partner’s technical knowledge of audio is extremely valuable to the quintet. “A drummer who would limit himself to playing the arrangements wouldn’t work. A group such as Pau Brasil needs to sound more collective than that”.
The album 2005 is defined by Stroeter – who produced it – as “settling accounts with the repertory of that particular line-up”. Except for ‘Pulo do Gato’ (by Bellinati) and ‘Ciranda’ (by Stroeter and Bellinati), compositions that were recorded by the quintet during the 1990s but didn’t make it onto discs – or with the exception of the Cantilena Aria of Villa-Lobos’ ‘Bachianas Brasileiras nº 5’” – the five remaining compositions were taken from Pau Brasil’s early albums and include new interpretations of audience favorites such as ‘Fogo no Baile’ (by Ayres), ‘Jongo’ (by Bellinati), as well as their arrangement of ‘Bye Bye Brasil’ (by Roberto Menescal and Chico Buarque).
Bellinati still finds it amusing that he walked into the studio with the same Gibson guitar he had used in the quintet’s original recordings. As soon as he heard the first chord, Stroeter immediately interrupted him: “Stop, Paulinho. Not with that guitar”. Naturally, Bellinati agreed with his partner’s observation: the Pau Brasil sound no longer was – nor could be – what it had been in the 1980s.
Three decades after it was formed, Pau Brasil is enjoying one of its most productive periods. In February, 2012, with a season of concerts at São Paulo’s Sesc Vila Mariana, they released the album Villa-Lobos Superstar with original new interpretations of music by the great Brazilian composer.
“This record came off so nicely that it got us thinking about producing a series with works by Villa-Lobos according to Pau Brasil. I’d like to do at least two more discs, with different line-ups”, Stroeter reveals. Yet another recording that should be out soon is Concerto Antropofágico, a collective composition by the group recorded live with the Osesp (Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo / São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra) and with singer Mônica Salmaso in 2008.
Currently a seven-year member of Pau Brasil, Ricardo Mosca – the youngest musician in the quintet – notes that he had never seen a sense of collectivity prevail so strongly over individual playing in any of the various groups to which he has belonged. “First and foremost, Pau Brasil is a family. Ego is usually pretty prominent in artistic circles but the members of this group are terrific people. The human side far overshadows whatever ego may be pushing to emerge”.
Now matured, tighter and experienced, the quintet from São Paulo continues to follow the horizon that has marked its musical trajectory over the last three decades. Rodolfo Stroeter, the only musician present in all of the line-ups, nicely sums up their spirit: “As a group, Pau Brasil pursues a musical utopia of Brazil. Truth be told, this Brazil doesn’t exist yet, but we want it to exist”.