Naná Vasconcelos, Nelson Angelo, Novelli
Launched in 2016, the Berlin based imprint, Altercat, has focused considerable energy toward illuminating remarkable and often sinfully overlooked efforts in 20th Century Latin American music. One after another, they’ve brought forth stunning reissues by Agustin Pereyra Lucena, Teo Azevedo, Carioca & Devas, Luis Vecchio, Jorge López Ruiz, Matias Pizarro, and numerous other, entirely rewriting the dominant historical narratives surrounding the music from the region as they’ve gone. Their latest, the first ever vinyl reissue of the Brazilian trio of Naná Vasconcelos, Nelson Angelo, and Novelli’s lone LP - “Nana, Nelson Angelo, Novelli” - originally issued by the legendary French imprint, Saravah, in 1975, stands among their most highly anticipated and remarkable creatively striking releases to date. A miraculous blend of Tropicália, jazz, folk, and rich experimentation, it’s easily among the most beautiful records of its moment, making it that much more surprising that has remained out of print for the better part of 50 years. Issued in two very special vinyl editions - a standard black vinyl pressing and a tiny edition of 200 copies on transparent yellow vinyl, both housed in a sleeve that immaculately reproduces the 1975 original, including a booklet with new liner notes by Brazilian journalist Zé Teles, few records deliver the sounds of summer better than this.
Naná Vasconcelos, of course, is one of the great legends of Brazilian music. First emerging during the late 1960s and the early '70s as a member of Quarteto Livre and Luiz Eça y La Familia Sagrada, the percussionist, vocalist and berimbau player would come to wide acclaim a few years later via the singular, pulsing sound heard across the two sides of his debut solo LP, “Africadeus”, issued by Saravah, in 1973. While Vasconcelos would go on to record numerous albums under his own name over the years, it is arguably his work as a collaborator for which he became most widely celebrated, threading hypnotic rhythms, beautiful vocals, and berimbau tones across albums with Milton Nascimento, Don Cherry, Gato Barbieri, Pat Metheny, Jon Hassell, Brian Eno, and numerous others.
The Brazilian songwriter, guitarist, arranger, and singer, Nelson Angelo, was among Vasconcelos’ earliest collaborators. The pair worked together in both Quarteto Livre and Luiz Eça y La Familia Sagrada, and would continue to do so for many years to come. In 1971, Angelo cofounded the group, A Tribo, alongside the bass player, composer, and singer, Novelli, who would go on to become a mainstay in Milton Nascimento’s band for years. It is this connection of friendship, artistic compliment, and creative ferment that would lead to the trio of Vasconcelos, Angelo, and Novelli entering the studio in Paris during 1975.
For many, “Nana, Nelson Angelo, Novelli” is regarded as one of the greatest Brazilian albums ever recorded outside of Brazil, encountering three of that country’s greatest musical minds pursuing a degree of musical freedom that could only be achieved abroad, due to the oppressive nature of dictatorship that often constrained artists. Comprising eight compositions that range from just under two minutes to just over eight minutes, “Nana, Nelson Angelo, Novelli” is a sonorous expanse of joyous, boundary-pushing experimentation. Intertwining elements of Tropicália, jazz, and folk with subtle avant-garde sensibilities and the same searching spirit that would come into the foreground via Vasconcelos’ work with Don Cherry in the Organic Music Society and Codona, the album is an absolute marvel of flowing creativity.
Built around Nelson Angelo’s incredible work on guitar and organ, Novelli’s cycling, hypnotic bass lines and equally noteworthy interventions on guitar and piano, Vasconcelos’ thrilling rhythms on berimbau and percussion, and the singing of all three, “Nana, Nelson Angelo, Novelli” is a tour de force of Brazilian music, ranging from pastoral passages, through driving Tropicália and into moments that touch down briefly in the realms of prog and far-out jazz, culminating as an album that defies any clear sense of categorization, and stands among the most striking efforts by three true musical masters. Issued by Altercat on vinyl in two very special editions, for the first time since 1975, we can’t express what a joy it is to have this one back in the world. A true marvel of joyous sound that can’t be missed.