Wednesday, 27 July 2011

João Donato 'Quem é Quem' IS MINE

Oh. My. God. I'm holding it in my hands. 'Quem é Quem' by João Donato. Undisputed masterpiece of MPB (Brazilian Popular Music). I've never even seen an original copy until now. I've been hoping for ten years that i'd one day find it*

João Donato is a Pianist from Acre state in deepest mainland Brazil. He came to prominence as an instrumental bossa nova performer, as early as the late '50s I think. 'Quem é Quem' was his first solo album as a singer, released in 1973. He released only one more of note, 1975's 'Lugar Comum' (written and produced in close collaboration with Gilberto Gil).

QEQ is simply one of the finest Brazilian albums ever. By some distance the greatest Bossa Nova/Brazilian Jazz album. Also, trumping even 'Feel' by George Duke, it's the ULTIMATE Fender Rhodes Album. The electric piano features heavily on many of the tracks, and Donato is a maestro. Elegance, good taste and funky feel personnified.

I've long wondered who the personnel on the album was, and thanks to a recent eBay listing for a copy with the original insert mine doesn't have, I now know... Helio Delmiro (Guitar), Lula Nascimento (Drums) and possibly Marcos Valle (who loosely produced the album) helping out on other stuff.

Donato had, quite frankly, a terrible voice. But his singing is so honest... listening to this album you feel like you're in the studio with him. It's the definition of good vibes. On 'Ahiê', Donato ends the song by just talking over the groove, telling a story about a beautiful place that he used to go on holiday. It's quite possibly the most relaxing piece of music i've ever heard. I can only dream of capturing such a perfect moment. Donato, I love you man.

*HUGE thanks to Brazilian DJ and collector D Vyzor for helping me track this down from a dealer in São Paulo

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