One of the great MPB albums of the 70's

'Jorge Ben is perhaps Brazil’s most iconic musician. Although much of his later music has helped me appreciate the early deaths of some of America’s 1960’s musical icons, his bloc of work from the late sixties to the early/mid-seventies stands as some of the most innovative and beautiful music of its time. Transcending and synthesizing Brazilian and American musical genres, Ben created original and bewitching music that retains every bit of its relevance and easily surpasses the offerings of many contemporary Brazilian musicians in a similar mold.' -Jacob McKean

Jorge Ben Jor
Músico maravilha

'He has so many famous songs (País Tropical, Más Que Nada, Taj Mahal, Fio Maravilha…) that Jorge Ben Jor rather than a renowned artist is an unknown known artist: even those who don’t know who he is and don’t recognise any of these titles have heard these songs and can hum them. But Jorge Duilio Lima Menezes cannot be explained or enjoyed only through his hits alone. His lesser-known tracks are also impressive and his whole albums from his classical period (60s-70s), are tropical pop masterpieces (Samba Esquema Novo, Jorge Ben, Força Bruta, Ben, A Tábua de Esmeralda). To summarize, may this golden songbook no longer be Ben’s alone, not all on one style (it goes way beyond the boundaries of samba, bossa, tropicalism, MPB) and nor from only one country, to become the pop patrimony of all humanity.'

Previously unissued gem from Brazil's soul-samba superstar

'A dreamy, relaxed record -- one of Brazilian funk pioneer Jorge Ben's finest albums. Mysteriously out of print for decades (but graciously and wisely reissued by the folks at Dusty Groove mailorder) "Forca Bruta" is a delightfully laid-back, silky set, featuring backing by the soul-oriented Trio Mocoto, who helped define Ben's sound in the early 1970s. Although this isn't quite the samba-soul funkfest that some collectors have billed it as (I'd say it's more of a stripped-back acoustic samba-pop session...) this is nonetheless a delicious, seductive album, and a couple of the songs on here are regularly included on best-of anthologies ("O Telefone Tocou Novamente," "Charles, Jr.") The rest of the record is quite nice as well, mellow and easy on the ears, but also a labor of love. Recommended! ' -DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue Brazilian Music Guide

'First time on CD in the US - and first time in the world in over 15 years. A groundbreaking album from the young Jorge Ben - one of Brazil's most soulful singers ever - heard here at a pivotal point in his career. Forca Bruta is a record forever transformed Brazilian music with its unique blend of samba and soul - and it features some tremendous rhythm work from Trio Mocoto - who bring in a wide variety of percussion techniques to make the whole thing groove. There's an earthy, laidback feel to the whole set - one that makes the album feel like a spontaneous expression of genius, even at the few points when larger orchestrations slide into the mix. The album's easily one of Jorge Ben's greatest - and it's a much-heralded Brazilian treasure that's finally getting reissued.' -Dusty Groove

'The combination of Jorge Ben and Trio Mocotó had already produced great things when Força Bruta first appeared in 1970. Ben's self-titled album of the year before had reeled off a succession of Brazilian hits, including "País Tropical" and "Cadê Teresa," and made the four musicians very busy as a result. Força Bruta was a slightly different album, a slice of mellow samba soul that may perhaps have been the result of such a hectic schedule during 1969. One of the hidden gems in Jorge Ben's discography, it's a wonderful album because it kept everyone's plentiful musical skills intact while simply sailing along on a wonderful acoustic groove that may have varied little but was all the better for its agreeable evenness. The songs may have been more difficult to distinguish -- virtually every one began with acoustic guitar, similar instrumentation, and Ben's caressing vocals over the top -- but it made the record one of the best in Ben's hearty career.' -AllMusic Review by John Bush

Jorge Ben Jor

The Interview

There doesn't exist (and never has existed) anyone like Jorge Ben Jor in Brazil. He's a unique generator of swing and his lyrics demonstrate, in a very direct way, the poetry of everyday urban life. And stoking the boiler of this recipe for success is, above all, a very nice guy. Jorge's groove and cadence were born with the force of a rocket that never stops climbing.
It would be impossible to talk about brazilian music without talking about the long history of Jorge Ben Jor's work.
He's responsible for creating a type of music so viscerally his own that nobody can imitate him or establish variations on what he produces. He's the exclusive owner of his own musical language. It's as if Jorge, in musical terms, had been born alone at the top of a mountain, putting swing into his guitar and, in positive and enjoyable lyrics, describing all that he saw around him. 
But everything became much clearer when Jorge Ben Jor spoke at length, about himself and his relationship with music, in the interview given (appropriately enough) on the thursday of carnival, february 15th.
Due to the hour and a half of taped interview, we decided to publish it in three parts. Half an hour's chat in each one. The second part of the interview will go on line in a few days with the final part to follow. Three homeopathic and harmonious doses of the best in brazilian music. -Walter de Silva


"Speaking of my musical style, when I began there was a movement called "new scheme". My first disc was recorded with a jazz band, the true samba people couldn't read it. And a jazz band managed a reading (in samba style) of my first work.

After I went through various phases. When there was the rock phase (the 60s) I went on Jovem Guarda, then a different phase with the whole Tropicalism thing. And the mixture I make of the overall feel of my city (Rio de Janeiro) and it's samba. I wanted to make a Rio music but one that wasn't totally regional. It's a national music. And that, thank God, has worked out right. Because I speak of the urban and suburban which exist in every town in the country. I speak a lot about that, but also there's always been romanticism in my songs.

"I speak of the urban and suburban which exist in every town in the country"

But my romanticism isn't an (immediate) romanticism. It's a romanticism that people have to think a lot about and have to hear several times to understand in my lyrics. It's not a soft romanticism that's sometimes classified as kitsch (brega). People need to listen several times to feel it. And that happens, and when it happens it ends up becoming a success."


"I've been in music for a long time. I wrote my first song in the army. And when I went to record "Mais Que Nada" I was a soldier. I didn't know what to do, I was divided between music (and other things). I only recorded because they believed in me as a musician. I wasn't planning to be a musician. My parents wanted other things. My dad wanted me to be a lawyer, my mum wanted me to be a paediatrician and I wanted to be a football player. I liked music but not as a profession.

"When I went to record "Mais Que Nada" I was a soldier."

And wandering around everywhere influenced my head a lot. I always listened to all styles of music, and I'm still like that today, I like to know about everything, what's going on and whatever new things are coming out, to evaluate them. I never imitate anything, but do something else that may work too."


"I've always said that from my generation only a few people understood my music. And not to say they didn't like it, they said it was a passing thing. But, thank God, I'm still here today. I think the generation after mine understands well what I do. And they're discovering old things of mine that sometimes I'm not into singing. There are many requests for me to sing certain songs because they understand the kind of music I do.

"I think the generation after mine understands well what I do"

I could give an example of one person from my generation who's always understood me and always said really beautiful things about me, and that's Caetano Veloso. A great poet who's always spoken well of me. So much so that I participated in the tropicalist movement because of an invitation from him. I think I'm still doing this whole mixture of things, a rich mixture of brazilian rhythms like the maracatu and the afoxe, and funk and blues. I mix all this together in my music without diluting it for popular consumption. My music's something that, I don't know how, just comes out of me."


 "I'm not afraid of trying out things. In our musical environment I know I need to be successful to be able to work and do shows. Many people need to compromise to be successful, to get on the media. But, above all else, I've always thought that I need to like my own work and to make other people like it.And now it gets better and better as I end up performing better on stage from doing so many shows. You get to know how people react to each song.

And, incredible as it seems, in a show you act as if it was a game of football. You always have to change. You begin the game in 4, 4, 2 formation and after you have to play in 4, 2, 4 on top. There are times you have to do something different to score a goal. There are shows you have to begin in 3, 3, 5 , building up to the end. And there are shows where you have to retreat; play in 4, 2, 4 to set up moves, or play in 4, 4, 2 and set up the mid-field to explode at the end."


"You live and learn, and young people's heads are different today. I see this in my kids, who are 12 and 13 years old. Their heads are incredible. My son of 13, Tomas, talks to the whole world on the Internet. This interests me a lot. For me it's a wonderful channel of inspiration for me to fit appropriately into my music. To include their way of speaking. It's a totally different intellectual thing. And I have to learn everything. I have to learn to use the computer, I have to know how to speak on the Internet to be able to speak to this generation, which is going to be the generation of the year 2000. And to learn other things which are coming along.

"I have to know how to speak on the Internet to be able to speak to this generation."

I have to speak to them in a musical way, a way which sounds good to their ear. Because for my generation, in my childhood, these things didn't exist. They were things from another world. To talk of these things in my childhood was to be considered crazy, someone could say 'this guy's out of his head'. But these days this is a lesson for me.To suddenly be able to learn all this. When my son speaks to me, I have to know what Tif is, what software is. I need to know all this to be able to have a conversation with him. Their romanticism is different. I need to be able to talk about my romanticism mixing it with theirs, for them to like it too."


"Firstly, I rejuvenate. I thank God for this gift and always ask him to give me good health. With good health I'm going to do a lot of good things for them (the young people), and many sounds they're going to like. I'll make them happy with my songs and my poetry. (When Ben Jor became very successful again three years ago.) There existed a brazilian public that really didn't know me. Many of them tell me that their parents know my songs. They say their parents have the record with "Pais Tropical"on it. And many of them (young people) didn't know that song, or "Fio Maravilha" and "Taj Mahal".They just remembered the sound but only vaguely.

"With good health I'm going to do a lot of good things for them (the young people)."

And it's marvellous for me to know that this public was born with my song "W / Brasil", there in Jacerezinho, basically youngsters and teenagers at university. That was when I began to play a university circuit in Rio de Janeiro (three years ago), at mid-day, every tuesday, in all the colleges. And I began to sing the new songs, from the disc "Ben Jor ao Vivo no Rio". The song "W / Brasil" was played at parties, in the advertising agency of a friend of mine, and among the community in Jacerezinho (Rio). The song caught on and was a success which came from the streets. People talked about it and the DJs themselves rang me and my record company asking what song it was.


"I could say without error that this philosophy comes from my home, from my parents to me. My dad always taught me about good and bad. He always told me: 'Look, this does harm and this does good, now you choose.' They taught me in such an affectionate way because they'd learnt a lot. My dad was a docker, my mum a house-wife. But I was never short of anything, not even affection. I was well brought up.

"My parents gave me dignity and opened me up to what's good and what's bad."

They took me later to the south zone, to a high class area where I was brought up. I had good friends, they put me in good schools like the seminary my dad sent me to. My parents gave me dignity and opened me up to what's good and what's bad. And all this I have to pass on now , not just to my children but to my public too. I think they deserve it."


"We went through twenty years of (military) dictatorship, when things were censored. (For example, the lyric) / Mo(ro) num Pa(is) Tropi(cal), they thought was a secret code. (laughs) Even "Charles, Anjo 45" too. Totally innocent. For "Charles, Anjo 45" I took my inspiration from the figure of Robin Hood, who everybody knows from the cinema. And I put all that into my song.

"to root for peace / 
for joy and love / 
for the pretty girls 
I'm gonna root / I'm gonna /"

But, at the time of the dictatorship, these songs were censored, along with others. And I wrote completely innocently. As for example when I wrote / I'm gonna root for peace, / it's something I've always wanted, / to root for peace / for joy and love / for the pretty girls I'm gonna root / I'm gonna /.
I've always been apolitical (non militant), although I've lived among (active) politicized friends like Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. I've always been a romantic. Few understood my message as that of a romantic person."


"Intuition is what most characterises my work. Besides the technology, I like to read newspapers and get news from abroad through cable TV, about everything that's going on in the world. But sometimes my intuition scares me. My dad told me that the kind of music I do isn't for now but for several years from now.

"sometimes my intuition scares me"

I've always had this intuition of well-being, of rooting for peace. It's what I've always dreamed of, what I'll live to see.
This Real Plan (a Brazilian economic plan) was introduced, giving the 'real' the same value as the dollar, but I'd already said that before in a song of mine. But there are things I refer to and then they happen. Sometimes I even think I'm being too futurist, but the way things are heading I think all the good things are going to happen."


"The best period for music in Brazil, in my opinion, was the time of Tropicalia. It was a fertile period for various composers. Tropicalia exposed good musicians and good writers.

"Tropicalia exposed good musicians and good writers"

All the songs from that time are still around. I can say that for myself cos the songs I sing today are from that period, hits like "Pais Tropical", "Fio Maravilha", "Taj Mahal", "Que Pena", "Zazueira", and more. Not just mine, but by other writers too. But it was a fertile time for Brazilian music.""


I thank God for that, and that the critics understand my work. I do a professional job, like when I'm on stage and want everything to go well. The people out there watching me are there because they like me. I want those going to one of my shows for the first time to leave having liked it and to have asked for an encore.

"I have to be professional without exaggerating"

I have to be professional without exaggerating. Like a musical poet, singing them stories so they can leave happy.
And without concessions. Though an artist who's recording for a multinational knows he's gotta sell. An album could be really beautiful but it might not sell and might not interest the record company. It has to have a strong appeal and something pop. It has to please me, the record company and the public. Making an album involves obligations to studio time, contracts and production too.
Discs can't be too alike, even though for me my sources for composition and my roots are one and the same. But the next one"ll have to sound a little different to "Homosapiens". Cover, arrangements and everything. I want to show my public conscientious work. I want them to say "he's done something different and good". That's what I always think about, pleasing the public and the critics."


"I've lived more in Europe. And once, I appeared in an episode of "Mission Impossible" singing in a night-club. It was when I did a university tour with Sergio Mendes. (At the request of the Ministry for External Relations.) Interest in me (abroad) is very great but I'm not getting the time to go. I think that during this coming European summer I ought to be doing a new tour there, presenting my new work for Sony Music, my office is working on that. It'll be in July and August. I was there three years ago, and now I want to go back. In Europe you have to stick at it, every year. They know you but it's still difficult cos it's not in their language.

"Eu sou muito aficionado por novos ritmos, batidas e divisões"

When I was there, and stayed six months in France, I got known because I did radio and TV. Thank God, I got off to a good start and got to go to Europe every year, but it's nearly three years now since I've been there."


"I'm thinking about the South American and Central American markets too. Strange as it may seem, I've only been to Latin America twice. I went recently to Argentina, where I'd never been before. And I went once to Chile, at the time the film "Xica da Silva" (by Carlos Diegues, 1976) came out, the producers invited me because I wrote the song "Xica da Silva". But now when I went to Argentina, I had a pleasant surprise; at all birthdays, weddings and parties there they have to play my songs."


"The greatest moment in my life was receiving the recognition of my current public. Especially the young audience that gave me an ovation at Hollywood Rock, here in Sao Paulo in 1994, where I got top marks; and in Rio de Janeiro where I also got top marks. That was the greatest musical moment of my career. I managed to play Morumbi Stadium (SP) packed out, with everybody singing "W/Brasil" and "A Banda do Ze Pretinho", it was really moving. And in Rio de Janeiro too, at the Sambodrome.

"Eu sou muito aficionado por novos ritmos, batidas e divisões"

Another great moment in my life was the show in (the Valley of) Anhangabau (in the old centre of Sao Paulo), which they said had 120,000 people, on the day of the city's birthday (January 25, 1996). That was marvellous, a great moment. And I've had lots of other moments, but it's those that really left their mark. 
I couldn't leave out playing at New Years in Rio de Janeiro (1993), there were more than a million people, it's one of the candidates for the Guinness Book of Records. It was marvellous seeing that on Copocabana beach, the sands were a sea of people dressed in white. That too was one of the greatest moments in my musical career."


"My music's spontaneous because I feel from the public what I have to do for them. And it's been working out cos the band that's with me follows me and understands what I want to do for the audience. It's a thing of the moment, talking to the audience. In a way talking and singing at the same time, as I've always wanted to do. Singing and talking to the audience."


"No, not that. But I've always tried to do this: singing, but as though it were speech, so that in a way the lyrics come across as if I were speaking. (For example:) / It's raining outside / But anyway I'll rush just to see my love /, singing but also talking. "Alcahol" is a song that comes out almost spoken: / Drinking water / Holy water / Bath water / Alcohol only for disinfecting /. It's got a melody but comes out almost spoken."


"I feel I'm a good interpreter of my own songs. I do them the same way I create them. I think there have always been good interpreters who've recorded my songs in a really straightforward way.
I could mention Gal Costa , who's always interpreted my songs marvellously, and Caetano Veloso. Top class bands like Biquini Cavadao with a really nice arrangement of "Chove Chuva" and the Paralamas do Sucesso's live arrangement of "Charles, Anjo 45". And there's a really straightforward arrangement by Marisa Monte of "Balança A Pena". There's a new girl singer in Rio called Daude, who did something incredible, put two versions of "Chove Chuva" on the same CD. She did two versions, one a rap, both excellent, marvellous.

"Eu sou muito aficionado por novos ritmos, batidas e divisões"

The legendary (Wilson) Simonal interpreted me well. He was the second person to record "Pais Tropical" (which, at the time, was a big hit). The first to record it was the trio of Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. Afterwards many other singers.
There was a bossa nova singer in the old days called Claudete Soares, who did a marvellous reading of "Que Maravilha". And Beth Faria recorded the song "A Banda do Ze Pretinho" with a real (traditional) band."


"(Besides Wilson Simonal, Geraldo Pereira and Bezerra da Silva) there are many others, there's Luiz Melodia, a good rogue from Estacio (de Sa, a Rio de Janeiro samba school). Another who was a good rogue was Gonzaguinha, but there are many others.
(Among rogues,) there's a difference in the use of language between natives of Rio from the suburbs and those from the shanty towns. They don't have to be from the shanty towns, but in the suburbs there's a different kind of roguery. There's another way of speaking, with lots of slang. It's a more upfront thing. It's a new language that sees the new differently.

"Eu sou muito aficionado por novos ritmos, batidas e divisões"

This roguery is going to enrich, add an extra spice, to Brazilian music and lyrics. Besides the lyrics, there's a roguery in the drums, there's a different beat. A way of playing the chords too.
There are musicians who read everything, know everything, but don't have this roguery. There are musicians who don't know any of that stuff, but play correctly as if they knew it all. It's because they've got this roguery, and there's heart in it.
When the heart is put before the head, that's when you get roguery and hustling."
(translator's note: I'm happy enough with 'roguery' as an adequate translation of 'malandragem'. However, it must be added that 'malandragem' has a very special place in Brazilian life and culture which requires and deserves further investigation.)


The acoustic guitar gave me my first chords, but I played them wrong cos I learnt on my own. I wanted to play and so I learnt. I learnt first what few people manage to do, which is tune the guitar. I thought that if I knew how to tune up I'd be able to play it. I began with a method book and then went on to play the musical notes. After ten years I went to study music. My guitar playing was percussive and the people and the tourists thought I played it wrongly, because I played with a plectrum. It was electric guitarists who played with a plectrum. And I played riffs. Later, thank God, I managed to move from acoustic guitar to electric as I had to play the acoustic guitar on the quiet, because of all the criticism. I played on the quiet something that today I know how to play very well. Before, the only way I knew how to play was with my thumb and index finger; and at home I whacked it with the plectrum as if I was playing an electric. But already a totally different sound came out, a percussive sound; bass sounds came out, chords came out."


(Beco das Garrafas is a no through road in the Copacabana district of Rio de Janeiro. In 1961 several small live music clubs appeared on the street, each with a capacity of 60 people at the most. It was there that bossa nova flourished live, as did many jazz musicians. The name Beco das Garrafas (No Through Road of the Bottles) came from the fact that, at the time, the neighbours threw bottles into the road because of the intense musical activity in the place. The Beco das Garrafas was of historical importance musically until 1966.)

"At the time I had the group Copa 5. I lived in the south zone, in Copacabana, and we played football on the beach. And the musicians of my generation came to see us play. They played and we asked them: 'can we come to see you play?' And then at the shows we had jam sessions. After a certain time at night they turned on the lights and whoever was under-age had to leave.

"Eu sou muito aficionado por novos ritmos, batidas e divisões"

That's where we became friends (the members of the band Copa 5). I liked music and showed them my songs, which they thought different. 'Wow, you play some different stuff', they said.It was born there and I came out of there. That's where it all began."


"It was a wonderful experience cos I started there at the (football) school, after the infants I went on to indoor football and after to the infant-juveniles. After passing a test I went on to the juveniles. Then came the time of the army and military service, and I wanted to go to university and the guys wanted me to record music. All this happened to me and I'm still here today, thank God.

"Eu sou muito aficionado por novos ritmos, batidas e divisões"

My dream was to be a football player. But that's been resolved cos I had to be a musician, a popular poet. I think it's my work to be a musician and bring joy to people, however I can and however it comes."


"I don't have a favourite record, though there's my first one that I like a lot, "Mas Que Nada". And there's my second disc for Polygram, a marvellous record that opened me up a lot, taught me a lot about the future, "Tabua de Esmeralda". I think that that album deserved to win a Grammy.

"Eu sou muito aficionado por novos ritmos, batidas e divisões"

Another record that's marvellous to me and had many hits that I still play today is "Ben Vinda Amizade", on Som Livre. On that album there's "Eu Sou O Sol", "O Dia Que O Sol Declarou Seu Amor Pela Terra" and "Santa Clara Clareou", there's "Boi Metaleiro" that's still in my show today. That's an album that got me a gold disc.
I wouldn't want to forget to talk about "Africa Brasil", an album discovered fifteen years later by the American David Byrne. It was my last disc for Polygram, a marvellous album that didn't get played much at the time. Fifteen years later David Byrne released a compilation and chose two songs from that album. He thought the record totally up-to-date. There's "Umbabarauma", which is a strong song, and also "Ponta da Lanca" which is about an african footballer."


My interest is great, when I travel I always try to go deeper and get to know about music in science and about science also wanting to discover alchemy. I try to do an alquemusic. In "Alcahol" I talk about the wisdom of wanting to know and the science of wanting to know why.
It sounds childish but they're deep phrases about wanting to know about the sky, about jelly-fish, about the sea."


"I wanted to say that the Banda do Ze Pretinho (Little Black Joe's Band) was born with the album "Ben Vinda Amizade". Before "Ben Vinda Amizade" I recorded the album "A Banda Do Ze Pretinho", my first for Som Livre. Various composers, friends of mine, had already said that that was a pop album because the songs "A Banda do Ze Pretinho" and "Berenice" came off it, there's another song that went into the cinema called "Amante Amado", Caetano Veloso recorded the soundtrack.

"Eu sou muito aficionado por novos ritmos, batidas e divisões"

But I still didn't have the Banda do Ze Pretinho, I just had the song. The band was really born on the album "Ben Vinda Amizade". And it still exists today, but it's a mutable band. The Banda do Ze Pretinho is a prodigal band that bears fruit. Several musicians have already left the band to set up their own successful groups. Cor do Som came out of the band, and once half the band left to form the group Erva Doce. Several musicians have left to do solo work.
And the band has been going for twelve years. Many people have played in the band or sat in with the band at some time. Little Black Joe's Band / the band that plays with affection and a beat / the band that's the joy of my heart /."


"I want to say that I want to be on the Internet to reach this great public. And I also want them to talk to me via Internet, to access me. I mean I'm happy to do that, and I hope that people get to know me through my music and my work. It's a job I do conscientiously and professionally.
I hope it reaches them and hope they like my work.
I'd like to say that I'm an aries, born on march 22nd., 1945. But to myself, as I said, I'm 25 to 33 years old. I'd like to thank you for such an informal and marvellous interview, though it was by phone, I'm really pleased and happy. I'm a Salgueiro (samba school) supporter and its colours are white and red. And Flamengo's colours are black and red. And I have faith that this album "Homosapiens", released on Sony, will do well outside Brazil.

Salve simpatia! (Jorge's own expression, which in this context means something like: keep on keeping on!)" -Brazilian Music Up To Date

1. Oba, lá vem ela 4:13
2. Zé Canjica 3:51
3. Domenica domingava num domingo linda tôda de branco 3:47
4. Charles Jr. 6:06
5. Pulo, pulo 2:48
6. Apareceu Aparecida 3:15
7. O telefone tocou novamente 3:49
8. Mulher brasileira 4:24
9. Terezinha 3:11
10. Fôrça bruta 5:08