01 Planeta São Paulo (Lelo Nazario/Nenê) – 04:42
02 Espíritos da Mata (Rodolfo Stroeter) – 09:37
03 Queimada (Paulo Bellinati) – 05:18
04 Cheguei na Capital (Lelo Nazario) – 01:29
05 Perdido (Rodolfo Stroeter/Lelo Nazario) – 13:53
06 Cordilheira (Nenê) – 06:07
07 Metrópolis Tropical (Lelo Nazario) – 07:47
Even before the European tour based on the Lá Vem a Tribo album, the now much tighter quintet accepted musician/producer Frédéric Pagès’ invitation to record another CD. Recorded at the Rainbow Studio, in Oslo (Norway), Metrópolis Tropical allowed Pau Brasil to break into the European market with a high standard of sound recording. The Frenchman – who had already visited Brazil – suggested that the group create a musical portrait of the city of São Paulo.
“Me and Rodolfo spent a whole day in São Paulo’s city center, recording all kinds of sounds: city noises, people talking and selling stuff, street singers”, Lelo Nazario reminisces. “Then I took the recordings home and did some seriously electroacoustic editing, splice by splice, on the magnetic tape – real traditional. I created two tracks to underlie the compositions we played on that record. The effect was amazing. It’s pure electroacoustic music”, notes the composer/keyboardist, in reference to tracks such as ‘Abertura: Planeta São Paulo’ and ‘Cheguei na Capital’.
Marked by compositions of greater length, created or arranged with the intention of representing different facets of the metropolis that is São Paulo, Pau Brasil’s fifth album includes brand new themes, among which are title track ‘Metrópolis Tropical’ (by Nazario) and ‘Cordilheira’ (by drummer Nenê), which have since resurfaced in new versions on later records. Rodolfo Stroeter contributed the suite ‘Perdido (Lendas da Cidade)’, co-written with Nazario, and with the vibrant ‘Espíritos da Mata (Saci e Curupira no Bambuzal)’, a partnership with Nenê, which includes several solo improvisations. Paulo Bellinati’s ‘Queimada’, highlights his virtuoso playing of the viola caipira.
The experience of recording at the Rainbow Studio, powered by the know-how of revered sound engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug (who had already left his mark on countless albums for the ECM label) was an unforgettable experience for group members. Teco Cardoso recalls that “After spending fifteen or twenty days passionately playing that sound in concerts throughout Europe, going into the studio like the one in Oslo to record that super fresh material ‘live’ was just fantastic”.
In Nazario’s assessment, “the recording was wonderful. That studio is unparalleled; there’s nothing like it. Working with Erik was an incredible experience. He’s one of a handful of guys in the world of sound engineering whom you might call a genius. When you listen to the sound of that studio, you hardly believe what you’re hearing”.
During this period, the group was already concentrating its efforts on growth in the international market. “We started playing Europe and the United States a lot more; we all but vanished from Brazil. Even though we weren’t doing so consciously, in time we began to think of repertory in terms of what to play at the New Morning, in Paris, rather than some venue in Brazil”, Stroeter notes, explaining how the group’s career moves changed during this phase.
“Although our music was still pretty Brazilian, our contemporary idiom caught foreign audiences by surprise; it wasn’t the language of jazz. I was certain that, if we could get our foot in the European door with a more appropriate sound, we might have a career there, all the more so because we had a really strong manager. We worked a lot during that period, collectively, to transform Pau Brasil into an exportable product. Lelo and Nenê contributed enormously to that”, the bass player endorses.
Ironically enough, although it had the potential to make a much bigger splash in Europe, Metrópolis Tropical was adversely affected by the lack of promotion and support from the Divina Comedia label. “We did a few concerts based on that effort, albeit not as many as we might have done if we’d had the recording company’s support”, Stroeter laments, although he praises the French producer who devised the project. “It was the indie adventure of a true idealist who loved Brazilian music and literature”.
Even so, Pau Brasil’s fifth album continued to make waves. The April, 2012 edition of the highly-regarded French Jazz Magazine included Metrópolis Tropical in a selection of “gold nuggets” of Brazilian jazz: 80 of the best albums of this particular musical genre were chosen and commentated by the publication’s cast of critics.