Milton Nascimento

Maria Maria/Último Trem

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Far Out Recordings, the European label that brings us all things Brazilian, has done it again. This double, first time on CD package brings together two very important and nearly impossible to find Milton Nascimento recordings to listeners outside Brazil. Maria Maria (1976) and Ultimo Trem (1981) are the soundtracks for two ballets written by Nascimento and his collaborator, lyricist Fernando Brant for the Grupo Corpo Dance Company, choreographed by Oscar Araiz. The first, based on the life of a slave named Maria, is provocative for the unbelievably raw energy in its presentation. While the music is, as one would expect, gorgeously melodic and warm, it contains a dynamic in the early folk music of Nascimento's region of Minas Gerais. The musicians on board for this undertaking were master percussionist Naná Vansconcellos, guitarist Toninho Horta, saxophonist Paulo Moura, as well as vocalist Nana Caymmi, Beto Guedes, Nascimento, and Fafa De Belem. Maria Maria is a provocative listening experience. Songs with wordless vocals, spoken word, instrumental passages, exotic ambient forays into dramatic darkness, and empowering reflections on freedom and liberation are all found within. Ultimo Trem is based on the closure of a railroad line by the military government that linked Minas Gerais' towns and villages with the coastal cities. Nascimento majestically evokes the sights, sounds, and other sensations of train travel . This is music that is tender and bittersweet. Some of it rages, but most of it comes from the sorrow of life interrupted. Here, Nascimento is joined by a much larger cast of players, including pianists Wagner Tiso and João Donato, guitarist Paulo Jobim, drummer Robertinho Silva, Horta, guitarist and percussionist Nelson Ângelo, and all the members of Som Imaginário, as well as a chorus of vocalists who include Lizzie Bravo, Lisieux Costa Novelli, and Fernando Eiras. Once more, the sound is unpolished, immediate, and heartbreakingly beautiful. While not as provocative as its predecessor, Ultimo Trem is perhaps more enduring because of its complex feelings of reminiscence and loss. The atmospherics on this disc are gorgeous, as is the rootsy folk music at its heart. This is a stellar collection and should be owned by anyone interested in the varieties of Brazilian music. This is one of the most important reissues of 2004.

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