01 Azas nos Ayres (Azael Rodrigues/Nelson Ayres) – 04:28
02 Na Baixa do Sapateiro (Ary Barroso) – 09:30
03 Europa (Roberto Sion) – 01:42
04 Frevo do Pastochia (Paulo Bellinati) – 02:32
05 Jongo (Paulo Bellinati) – 05:21
06 Pau Brasil (Nelson Ayres) – 06:07
Recorded for the Lira Paulistana label at the invitation of producer Wilson “Gordo” Souto Jr. and executive produced by drummer Azael Rodrigues, Pau Brasil’s début album already showed signs of its intention to develop an essentially Brazilian authorial repertory.
Nelson Ayres’ arrangement for ‘Na Baixa do Sapateiro’ – a classic samba by Ary Barroso – was the group’s pioneer attempt to create a powerful sense of Brazilianness. “The arrangement was written for a duo performance with Hector Costita at the 1981 Campos de Jordão winter festival”. The pianist recalls that he “wrote it right there, during the festival”.
“‘Na Baixa do Sapateiro’ is one of the arrangements we use to this day in master classes in order to illustrate the way the group creates collectively. As a matter of fact, there’s great deal more interaction between Pau Brasil musicians nowadays than there was at the time of this first record. Our playing is much freer these days”, compares Rodolfo Stroeter.
A partnership between Ayres and Rodrigues, ‘Azas nos Ayres’, was the first composition specially written for the group. “In search of a personality for the band, I composed the bebop-inspired melody for vibraphone, using samba as a base. For the B part, I came up with a heavily syncopated rhythmic structure – samba with a few dashes of rock – and invited Nelson to write the harmony”, the drummer notes. “I adopted Charlie “Bird” Parker’s practice. Because it was a partnership, the title ‘Azas nos Ayres’ alludes to both our names”.
A composition by Paulo Bellinati which is still played in the group’s concerts, ‘Jongo’ was originally written for guitar and adapted for the quintet, as was Bellinati’s ‘O Frevo do Pastóchia’. “It took us a while to absorb Paulo’s compositions, because they were pretty different from the more jazz-oriented repertory we’d been playing up to that point”, Stroeter notes.
An emotional ballad by Roberto Sion, ‘Europa’ came about during the group’s first European tour, in 1982. “I wrote the theme thinking about the place my mother’s birthplace”, the saxophonist tells. Created during rehearsals for the album, its closing track – ‘Pau Brasil’, by Nelson Ayres – wasn’t as fortunate as any of the other vintage compositions: the group never played it again.