Saturday, 22 December 2012



By Alexandre Figueiredo

"Quem não gosta de samba / Bom sujeito não é / É ruim da cabeça / Ou doente do pé" ("Who doesn't like samba / Is not a good guy / Has a bad brain / And is sick from feet", in a approximate translation) ("O Samba da Minha Terra", Dorival Caymmi).

These lyrics from Bahia's composer Dorival Caymmi, that north american and british people knew by Bossa Nova's artist João Gilberto's version, is from a famous samba song, recognized in Brazil as an definitive manifesto of a true samba admirer. It means that a good samba admirer is a person can be dance and feel emotions relationed to the samba rhythm and melodies.

But the samba music, recognized by IPHAN's patrimony brazilian intitution as a cultural patrimony, is threaten by a violent dillution, which is formally identified to this rhythm, but it works to eliminate its essence as music and culture.

Called by the entertainment brazilian market as "pagode romântico" ou "samba pop", this rhythm can be called "sambrega", because this samba dillution makes the rhythm near to the musical mediocrity from the "brega" music, specially from the Odair José's songs influences.

The sambrega music was rised guided by the breganejo assemption (Chitãozinho & Xororó - aka José & Durval - , Leandro & Leonardo and others), as an sambist equivalent of the rural music dillution. It happened in early 1990s, when groups as Raça Negra got the radio playlist success.


But its origins refers to the first samba dillution made in Brazil. The "Sambão-Joia" was released in the late 1960s by singers and musicians who resemble as a samba version from well-behaved teen stars from the 50s and 60s like Paul Anka, Bobby Darin and Neil Sedaka.

The Sambão-Joia stars were Benito di Paula, Luís Ayrão, Luís Américo and Wando, and their music sounds like a quite corny version of the Sambalanço music. The Sambalanço was a mixture of samba, early rock'n'roll music, rhythm and blues and soul, and its main artists were Jorge Ben Jor, Orlandivo, Ed Lincoln, Banda Black Rio, Originais do Samba and Elza Soares.

By other way, the Sambão-Joia music derived from the Jovem Guarda success, specially for the influence of the second brega music generation rised on late 60s: Odair José, Paulo Sérgio, Reginaldo Rossi, Evaldo Braga and others. Luiz Ayrão also was a late Jovem Guarda songwriter, with songs recorded by Roberto Carlos and other artists from JG.

The sambrega first popular group, Raça Negra, was also derived from Jovem Guarda because the group had as a member a former The Jordans (brazilian guitar instrumental band) saxophonist. And Raça Negra
clearly took its influence from the sound of the Jovem Guarda sound, recording an entire album with JG greatest hits and covering Luiz Ayrão's "Ciúme de Você" song.


The sambrega sound was known for the precarious mix of the worst of the US commercial soul ballads and banal clichês of the samba music, specially garbling sound elements from Sambalanço and Gafieira Samba (a mixture of samba and swing jazz).

Lots of groups and singers appeared since the late 80s: Elson do Forrogode, Raça Negra, Negritude Júnior, Karametade, Katinguelê, Só Pra Contrariar, Exaltasamba, Pixote, Grupo Revelação, Os Morenos, Os Travessos, Grupo Soweto and others. Só Pra Contrariar revealed the singer Alexandre Pires and Grupo Soweto revealed the singer Belo (Marcelo Pires Vieira, not Alexandre Pires' relative).

The sambrega success followed the breganejo success. At the apex of popularity, some breganejo and sambrega stars sang together cover songs or their own success. And an acoustic album by Só Pra Contrariar, announcing the Alexandre Pires' departure to his solo career, he song the breganejo hit "Solidão", originally recorded by Leandro & Leonardo, with Leonardo on second vocals, some years after his brother Leandro's death.

Alexandre Pires - who also sang with Zezé di Camargo & Luciano, Daniel and Chitãozinho & Xororó - tried a foreign career managed by cuban singer Gloria Estefan and her husband, producer Emilio Estefan Jr. Alexandre Pires made a duet with Gloria Estefan, when he is on Só Pra Contrariar group, by the song called "Santo".

Pires was invited to sing to a Spanish-American institution, in 2003, and he was greeted by then US presidente, George W. Bush, and both was portrayed together. But Bush was so very unpopular worldwide and Alexandre Pires left the bad repercussion with it. Musically, however, Alexandre Pires failed because he merely sounds as a mixture of Alejandro Sanz and R-Kelly, being not important to the american pop music.


The sambrega had three stages. In its first years, the sound was a precarious mixture of soul music and samba, based on the commercial radio informations. In late 90s, the sambrega received the pressure from its detractors, who claimed that their singers and musicians don't made true samba, and the sambrega stars decided to cover MPB songs and original samba classics to try to convince the society.

The second stage shows the sambrega stars making an precarious imitation of samba popular artists, as Jorge Ben Jor, Zeca Pagodinho, Fundo de Quintal and Jorge Aragão, copying their sound without being creative, but to keep up the appearances. Alexandre Pires, Exaltasamba, Grupo Revelação and Belo carried their success on 2000 years making this job.

The third stage is very pretentious, and push sambrega to imitate bolf influences, as Wilson Simonal. Poses and other clichés, like to use a horn section, are used by the sambrega stars to make believe they also do Sambalanço. Alexandre Pires tried this tendence, but Thiaguinho, a former Exaltasamba's singer, is the more typical representative.

The sambrega receives complaints by the brazilian music specialists because it's never true samba. Sambrega was made for the radio playlists and TV studios, but it says nothing to the real samba music. Worst than Bossa Nova, accused to be a samba's dillution but became to be a genre by part, the sambrega is just a precarious imitation, which adds nothing to the samba culture and to the brazilian popular culture at all.

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