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Lisboa à Solta

 
 
 

 NOTES ON THE PROJECT

On the heels of a successful 30-year career as a revered classical flutist, circa 1999, Susan embarked on a mission to explore music that is virtually unknown outside its own, cloistered universe.  For decades, Susan has adored and been intrigued by the nuanced musical forms of Portugal (Fado being only one such form), and was astonished to learn that outside the country – even in most of the Lusofone world – Portuguese music is virtually unknown.  

In 2014 during a visit to Portugal, through friends, she made contact with some of the finest musicians in Lisboa and expanded her considerable knowledge of the music.  Susan experienced a musical epiphany as to how she could bring this incredible music to a wider, global audience.  This has been and remains the goal in this endeavor.

Her concept for the project was clear:  Invite the most accomplished Portuguese musicians to record selected, important compositions, suited to fresh interpretation, and arrange and record these works in Portugal.  By respecting the roots and history of the music with great passion and detail, Susan created a platform that has enabled her to share the music with the world.  

One of Susan’s many musical gifts is her ability to adapt to a given genre and quickly learn to play the music as if she had been performing it forever.  Time and again, I have seen her surprise long-time veterans with her ability to integrate her classical virtuosity to their native music and become one of them. 

Susan’s two recordings of Portuguese music, Lisboa Íntima (2016) and Lisboa à Solta (2018) are examples of what is really a new musical form.  Her recordings have drawn raves from journalists and music lovers in Portugal.  The finest musicians in Portugal have embraced her projects and support them as their own.   

Musical Ambassador accurately describes Susan’s role in this project

 

LISBOA À SOLTA (LISBON ON THE LOOSE)

Following Susan’s highly acclaimed Lisboa Íntima recording and a concert in November 2016 at the famed Ler Devagar in the LX Factory in Alcantara, Lisboa, Susan organized two tours in the US.   In May 2017 she performed with Pedro Jóia, Ruca Rebordão, Leo Traversa and Philip Hamilton in a series of marvelous concerts in Manhattan.  In July 2017 Pedro and Ruca travelled to New Hampshire where they performed with Susan and the North Country Chamber Players for sold-out performances of music from Lisboa Íntima as well as new material, now recorded on Lisboa à Solta.   Once Susan was clear on the music, the only missing component was to find the right Producer/Arranger.  When we asked our friend Dave Sanborn for a recommendation, without hesitation, he said,  “There is only one person, Gil Goldstein.”  Gil’s arrangements and production have become the essence of the sound of the recording.

THE MUSIC and THE RECORDING

Lisboa à Solta focuses on new interpretations of major compositions by the most important Portuguese composers of the last 50 years, including Fausto Bordalo Dias, Paulo de Carvalho, Carlos Paredes, Sergio Godinho, and Zeca Afonso.  Susan joined forces with the great Gil Goldstein who came to Portugal to produce, arrange and perform on the recording, giving an already extraordinary endeavor a new, multi-faceted artistic component.

When the reclusive, iconic Fausto learned from Susan’s friend and colleague Né Ladeiras that the recording was to include 3 of his compositions, mindful of what he had heard on Lisboa Íntima, he eagerly came to the sessions and sang on 2 tracks.  The roster of musicians joining Susan and Gil is a veritable all-star ensemble from Lisboa including vocalists: Fausto Bordalo Dias, Ricardo Ribeiro and Né Ladeiras; Pedro Jóia, guitar; José Manuel Neto, guitarra Portuguesa; Ruca Rebordão, percussion, berimbau; Carlos Barretto, bass and Sandra Martins, cello & clarinet. 

Abraços e todos.   A música é a força de cura no universe.

Richard O. Nidel, Executive Producer

 

 

 

 

 

LISBOA À SOLTA TRACKS

1.  Os Índios da meia Praia. José “Zeca” Afonso is the most influential folk musician in Portuguese history.  He is an icon because of his music and political activism (he was also a physician) against the dictatorial Salazar regime and its successor, the Estado Novo.  

He was instrumental in bringing about the democratic coup known as the Carnation Revolution, which culminated in Portugal’s freedom on April 25, 1974 - accomplished without a shot being fired.  He continued to write political songs criticizing and challenging the post-revolutionary government until his death at age 57 in 1987.

Meia Praia is a beach in the southwestern Algarve, near the town of Lagos.  Zeca’s composition celebrates the fishing community, which travelled from the eastern Algarve where they had been persecuted, to settle in Meia Praia where they created their own neighborhood.  They erected makeshift tin huts on the beach, resisting the attempted eviction by the local Lagos government.  Eventually the National Government intervened, allowing Os Indios to remain on the beach.

The events were immortalized in a documentary film my António Cunhal Telles in 1976.  Zeca’s composition of the same year is now a revered classic in Portugal.

A chorus of Ana Teresa Santos, Sandra Martins and Silvia Guerra open the tune with Ruca Rebordão’s berimbau announcing the theme.  Susan immediately states the lyrical line, echoing the spirit of the Zeca’s original song.  Ever the master, Gil Goldstein’s arrangement captures the energy of the composition and his addition of a vocal chorus is pure joy.

 

2.  Foi Por Ela is one of Fausto’s most famous and beloved compositions. The title roughly translates as “It was because of her” however it is somewhat misleading, as it does not refer to a woman. 

Shortly after the Carnation Revolution, Portugal’s African colonies (Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé & Principe, Cape Verde) gained independence and the Motherland retreated from Europe socially, politically, artistically and economically, remaining mostly isolated for another 10 years or so.  Portugal woke up slowly from 45 years of repression, eventually recovering its unique and determined persona before venturing back into Europe and the world. 

Fausto’s composition speaks to a moment, circa 1986, when Portugal emerged from its cocoon to truly join the EU, fully participating in Europe as a democracy for the first time since the 1930s.   The “her” in Foi Por Ela is in fact Europe!   Fausto’s lyrics express a recognition of the reawakening, a coming out for him personally and for his country.  

Né Ladeiras is magnificent in her insightful interpretation of her great friend’s composition and Gil’s arrangement shows the breadth and universality of the tune, evoking the optimistic voyage Portugal embarked on in the 1980s, a viagem, which has exploded circa 2018.  Check Gil’s lines at the end of the tune, with Zé Manel Neto and Susan vamping to a very cool fade.

3.  As Certezas do meu mais Brilhante Amor (The certainties of my brightest love) is a 1983 composition by Sergio Godinho, one of Portugal’s greatest singer songwriters and political activists of the 20th century. He is going strong as of 2018.  Sergio is a contemporary of the “Golden Generation” of singer-songwriters in the Lusofone culture including compatriots Paulo de Carvalho and Fernando Tordo as well as Brazilian peers Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Ivan Lins, Djavan, et al.

Here Susan is the voice, accompanied by Sandra Martins’ brooding, sensuous cello and Ruca’s tastefully colored percussion.   Zé Manel’s solo goes to the core of Sergio’s composition, concise and moving.

4.  Velho Mondego (Old Mondego).  Pedro Jóia wrote this tune for Susan specifically for Lisboa á Solta.  Mondego is the river that runs through Coimbra, Portugal’s main university city, 127 miles (205 km) north of Lisboa.  Pedro and Susan have performed many times together as a duo and this is a welcome addition to their repertoire – it instantly sounds like an old classic.  We love the classical sensibility of Pedro’s new piece.  Pedro is a virtuoso of the highest order - arguably the greatest living guitar player in Portugal.  He is currently musical director for the world famous vocalist Mariza and performs around the globe constantly on 6 continents with her band, as well as with his own extraordinary trio.

5.  E Levantou-se Ó Arraial is a somewhat obscure Fausto tune from his highly acclaimed 1994 recording Crónicas da Terra Ardente (Chronicles of the burning land).  The lyrics are about Portuguese soldiers on the way home to Europe, marching through war ravaged African villages, an allegory to the soldiers’ experience in observing the horrific plight of the local people in the former Portuguese colonies.

The iconic, reclusive Fausto makes a rare recording appearance on Lisboa à Solta, his first in many years.  Né Ladeiras suggested that Fausto join the session and the players and engineers were honored to work with him.  Here he is in fine form, reprising the original recording in a wonderfully nuanced arrangement by Gil, including Gil himself anchoring the beat on Fender Rhodes Kalimba, and some great ensemble passages highlighted by a moving alto flute solo by Susan.  

6.  Canção (Song) is a classic composition by the late master of the guitarra Portuguesa, Carlos Paredes.  The empathy between Susan and Pedro is truly extraordinary.  Pedro’s arrangement follows Paredes’ timeless original for solo guitar, here adapted for flute and guitar.  Pedro sounds eerily like the great master and the pair performs Canção as if they own it.

7.  Canção com Lagrimas (Song of Tears) was made famous by Adriano Correia de Oliveira, a legendary singer from Coimbra.  Adriano was a close friend of Zeca Afonso, an ardent communist and political activist, revered throughout Portugal.  He died at the age of 40 in 1982.  Adriano’s close friend and fellow socialist Manuel Alegre wrote the lyrics about a man mourning his young friend who perished in Africa during the colonial wars, longing for his return to Lisboa that will never come.  The original music is attributed to Adriano although he it is widely agreed that he is not the composer.

Gil has masterfully made this classic piece his own in a fresh new format, expanding the musical scope of the tune, yet faithfully respecting the original.  Ricardo Ribeiro’s soulful vocal is a tour de force.  Pedro’s guitar comping is superb and his solo is a uniquely structured musing on the melody, unconventional and enchanting.  Ruca’s intuitive percussion is the core of the track, his every statement perfectly punctuating the arrangement throughout.  Gil shows yet again that he is a magician, deftly integrating Charles Mingus’ tribute to Lester Young, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, into the coda, played solo by the redoubtable Carlos Barretto.

8.  A Morte saui à Rua is another famous Zeca Afonso composition.  The song is about a well-known artist friend of Zeca’s who painted political images on the walls in Lisboa and was shot dead in the street by the fascists for his art and his political actions.   Susan eloquently provides the lyrical essence of the tune, truly singing sem palavra.  There is a wonderful video version of the tune on (this) Susan’s website: www.susanpalmanidel.com.  The performance can also be viewed on You Tube featuring Pedro, Ruca, Carlos, Zé Manel and the eclectic Mario Delgado on National Guitar.

9.  Fado Lopes/Meditando. These two compositions are often performed together as here, composed by José Manuel Lopes and the famed Armandinho.  The Bolero like Fado Lopes, juxtaposed against the breakneck tempo of Meditando, always pleases crowds in live performance.  Susan and Pedro have performed it many times to rousing ovations.  

Armando Augusto Freire – affectionately known as Armandinho - was a legendary Fado guitarist of the 1920s and 1930s, well known as a composer and as a virtuoso on the guitarra Portuguesa. 

10.  Meu Fado Meu.   Paulo de Carvalho’s composition has become one of the new classics of Portuguese music.  Paulo is a contemporary of Sergio Godinho and was the drummer in the Sheikhs, Portugal’s answer to the Beatles in the 1960s.  He is still performing and composing today.  It was his song, E Depois do Adeus, which was used as the passcode at the beginning of the coup that toppled Portugal's dictatorship, giving Carvalho a permanent place in his country's history.

Meu Fado Meu was written for Mariza.  Here Susan again becomes the voice, beautifully embellishing the lyrical essence of the tune, finally giving way to Ricardo Ribeiro’s emotional coda.  Sandra Martins’ – a true cello Fadista - is moving and sensitive introducing the song.

11.  Maria Lisboa is a classic song popularized by Portugal’s greatest vocal artist, the late Amalia Rodrigues.  Alain Oulman, who is one of the most important Fado composers, wrote the tune along with lyricist David Mourão-Ferreira.  Oulman is credited with bringing nobility to Fado.  He had a lifetime collaboration with Amalia, beginning with her album Busto in 1962.  He was the one who led the great poets – Luis de Camões, David Mourão-Ferreira and Manuel Alegre to Amalia’s house. 

The Maria of the title is a generic kind of woman who frequented the shores of the Tejo in Lisboa circa 1900, exotic, sensual and seductive, the typical woman who sold fresh fish to passersby from a large basket balanced on her head, but that was not the only thing she sold.  

The tune is a showstopper – recently covered by Mariza to great effect – and here, Susan plays the role of Amalia with an all-star supporting cast.  Zé Manel’s solo is a joyous romp, Gil’s accordion solo elevates the energy and brings the tune to a climax before Susan asserts herself as the Diva in a dramatic, concluding statement.

12.  Ao Longo de um Claro Rio de Agua Doce (Along a clear river of sweet/fresh water).  Ao Longo is another Fausto classic, thought by many to be his masterpiece.  Gil has updated and expanded the laconic theme, again using a chorus to capture and enhance the essence of the composition. 

Following Gil’s enticing introduction, including some delicious keyboard and flute riffs, Né’s alluring alto announces the lilting theme with Susan and the chorus of Ana Teresa, Sandra and Silvia in support.  After Fausto’s entrance, the trio increases its presence, repeating the refrain many times, leading to a crescendo that hints at the eternity of the Tejo River.

 

Tracks and Players:

1. Os Índios De Meia-Praia
(José Afonso) 3’52”
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
Leo Traversa, electric bass
Ruca Rebordão, berimbau, percussion
Chorus:  Ana Teresa Santos, Sandra Martins,
     Silvia Guerra
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Foi Por Ela
(Fausto Bordalo Dias) 5’36”
Né Ladeiras, vocal
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute, alto flute
Sandra Martins, clarinet
Gil Goldstein, accordion, Fender Rhodes
Pedro Jóia, guitar
José Manuel Neto, guitarra Portuguesa
Carlos Barretto, double bass
Ruca Rebordão,  percussion
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. As Certezas do Meu Mais Brilhante
Amor
(Sergio Godinho) 4’53”
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Gil Goldstein, Fender Rhodes
Pedro Jóia, guitar
José Manuel Neto, guitarra Portuguesa
Sandra Martins, Cello
Carlos Barretto, double bass
Ruca Rebordão, percussion
 

 

 

4. Velho Mondego
(Pedro Jóia) 3’51”
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
 

 

 

 

5. E Levantou-Se Ó Arraial
(Fausto Bordalo Dias) 5’02”
Fausto, Vocals
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute, alto flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
José Manuel Neto, guitarra Portuguesa
Sandra Martins, cello, clarinet
Carlos Barretto, double bass
Gil Goldstein, Fender Rhodes Kalimba
Ruca Rebordão, percussion
 

 

 

 

6. Canção
(Carlos Paredes) 2’48”
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
 

 

7. Canção com Lagrimas
(Musica, PD; Letra, Manuel Alegre) 5’52”
Coda:  Charles Mingus
Ricardo Ribeiro, vocal
Susan Palma-Nidel, alto flute
Sandra Martins, clarinet
Pedro Jóia, guitar
Gil Goldstein, Fender Rhodes
Carlos Barretto, double bass
Ruca Rebordão, percussion
 

 

 

 

 

 

8. A Morte Saui À Rua
(José Afonso)  3’14”
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
Carlos Barretto, double bass
Ruca Rebordão, percussion
 

 

9. Fado Lopes/ Meditando
(Manuel José Lopes/Armandinho) 4’09”
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
Gil Goldstein, accordion
Leo Traversa, electric bass
Ruca Rebordão, percussion
 

 

 

10. Meu Fado Meu
(Paulo de Carvalho) 4’53”
Ricardo Ribeiro, vocal
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
José Manuel Neto, guitarra Portuguesa
Sandra Martins, cello
Carlos Barretto, double bass
 

 

 

11. Maria Lisboa (Alain Oulman/David Mourão Ferreira) 3’27”
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
José Manuel Neto, guitarra Portuguesa
Sandra Martins, cello
Carlos Barretto, double bass
Gil Goldstein, accordion
Ruca Rebordão, percussio
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. Ao Longo de um Claro Rio de Agua Doce
(Fausto Bordalo Dias) 5’24”
Né Ladeiras, vocal
Fausto, vocal
Susan Palma-Nidel, flute
Pedro Jóia, guitar
Sandra Martins, cello, clarinet
Carlos Barretto, double bass
Gil Goldstein, Fendere Rhodes, accordion
Ruca Rebordão, percussion
Chorus:  Ana Teresa Santos, Sandra Martins,
      Silvia Guerra

 

 

Recorded October 16-20, 2017 & November 1, 2017
Estudios Namouché, Lisboa, Portugal
Engineers:  Joaquim Monte
                  Amandio Bastos

Arranged and Produced by Gil Goldstein