This new version of Ataque is a pleasant surprise, bearing the colors of 60s carioca (Rio de Janeiro culture). It also offers a great opportunity to revisit the career of an artist who has been lauded more in the United States than in his native country.
Ataque, the album by Eumir Deodato and his group Os Catedrâticos (meaning lecturers/specialists in a field), initially appeared on the Brazilian label Equipe in 1965. After going through a motherboard remastering, it has been relaunched by Far Out in a 180g vinyl pressing. This new version of Ataque is a pleasant surprise, bearing the colors of 60s carioca (Rio de Janeiro culture). It also offers a great opportunity to revisit the career of an artist who has been lauded more in the United States than in his native country. It is true: Eumir Deodato de Oliveira, more commonly known as Deodato, acquired his acclaimed reputation in the land of Uncle Sam more so than in Brazil, which he left in 1967 at just twenty-five years old. But he left not to flee dictatorship, rather: it was at the invitation of Luiz Bonfa and Astrud Gilberto to handle musical production on their records.
He won numerous awards in the United States, sold millions of records and wrote arrangements for Kool & The Gang, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, George Benson. He has also been widely sampled by hip-hop singers (Common, J.Dilla, Snoopy Dog … ) and accompanied Björk on three albums. Essentially, he has compiled a staggering resume, which stops short of totally forgetting the relative blur of his Brazilian years, bathed happily in the colors and tones of bossa nova musicians. If he pops up in today’s media landscape, it is undoubtedly as part of the the wave the got Marcos Vale back in the saddle, a man he advised artistically for the album Samba de Verão. Moreover, the fact that he is an instrumentalist/arranger and not a singer, in a country that puts little stock in instrumental music, is undeniably one of the factors that has explained the relative lack of awareness of his talents in Brazil.
Years of learning
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1943, Deodato began playing the accordion and the piano, quickly becoming a self-taught musician. In 1959, he started developing under guitarist Roberto Menescal, one of the young creators of bossa nova, and began to compose and then assemble a sextet that would go on to play in renowned clubs like Au Bon Gourmet or Zum Zum. As an arranger, he worked on debuts for the singers Marcos Vale and Wilson Simonal, before turning freelance and becoming the exclusive organist for a major label: Odeon.
In 1964, he provided musical direction and arrangements for the LP Inutil Paisagem around the music of Jobim for the Forma label (at the same time launching the LP Os Gatos for Philips). Next came the conception of Ataque, an album branded with bossa nova aesthetic, even though the genre had begun to decline in Brazil. Deodato, however, in a recent interview, pointed out that he had already engaged in jazz fusion (“I borrowed from rock for the guitar playing and I ensured a jazzy touch with the fender rhodes. I also drew some classical inspirations”).
Jazz and bossa nova
When Ataque appeared, Eumir Deodato was only 22 years old but he had already, as we have read, accumulated some significant references in the musical world. He began his career in a stable Brazil, which saw the emergence of the future capital, Brasilia, and the rise of bossa nova. As we know, the official birth of bossa nova dates back to July 1958 with the release of Chega de Saudade by João Gilberto, whose first three albums changed the cultural landscape so much that Brazil suddenly became more fashionable. Proof of this can be seen in the concert given at Carnegie Hall (November 1962) for a celebratory evening that even Miles Davis attended.
Bossa nova became a fashion phenomenon and many jazzmen went on to borrow its accents; Stan Getz (who recorded many more than just “Girl From Ipanema”); Clare Fisher, Charlie Byrd, Coleman Hawkins, Bud Shank and Dizzy Gillespie. The list also includes Herbie Mann’s 1962 live recording in Rio with Jobim and the young Baden Powell de Aquino, as well as Jon Hendricks who paid tribute to Joao Gilberto. Doesn’t it seem fitting that one of the major themes of the bossa nova is it called “Influência do jazz”?
Furthermore, it is from the waters of bossa nova that Deodato drinks; a style that feels more like an evolution than a radical revolution. It is a simplification of the native form, samba, and a harmonic re-writing of beautiful, intimate melodies. Bossa nova plays on the altered chords, the refined simplicity of the arrangements and, most importantly, gives the guitar/drum conjunction a different rhythmic scansion.
The design of Ataque
It is within this cultural melting pot that Deodato’s talent flourishes without grabbing the attention of the general public. The repertoire, in addition to the leader’s own compositions (Ataque, E Bom Parar, Porque Somos Iguais … ), borrows from Marcos and Paulo Sergio Vale (Os Grilos, Terra de Ninguem, Razão de Viver … ), Baden Powell (Feitinha pro Poeta), samba musicians Elton Medeiros and Cartola (O Sol Nascera), and Niltinho and Haroldo Lobo (Edu’s father).
The rather polished arrangements, though sometimes sounding a little dated, value organ interventions in the style of Walter Wanderley as well as magnificent trombone solos from Maciel and the smooth overlay of the brass section. Wilson Das Neves’ drums and Rubens Bassini’s percussion are foregrounded to establish the characteristic rhythmic heartbeat of bossa nova.
Eumir Deodato & Os Catedrâticos – Ataque (Far Out Recordings)