Cherry Red’s Él Records label is going ’round the world with a pair of recent releases. Morricone Pops focuses on an oft-overlooked part of Italian composer Ennio Morricone’s ouevre: that of his early sixties arrangements not just for film, but also for pop singers. Él also turns its attention to a favorite country, Brazil, for Sambou, Sambou, a collection of two albums of tunes by composer-pianist Joao Donato.
With a staggering body of work including more than 500 films and television shows, 84 year old Ennio Morricone has deservedly earned a reputation as one of the greatest of all movie composers. Yet before he teamed with Sergio Leone to define the sound of the spaghetti western with scores for films like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Morricone was finding steady employment as an arranger in the Italian music scene. He arranged and even ghost-wrote hundreds of songs in the 1950s and 1960s, working for the Italian RCA label, among others. One such song – an arrangement of Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty” as sung by American vocalist Peter Tevis – attracted the attention of director Leone, an old schoolmate of Morricone’s. Leone hired Morricone to write the score for 1964’s A Fistful of Dollars, and well, the rest is cinema and music history.
Fistful wasn’t Morricone’s first motion picture; that honor went to 1961’s Il Federale. But it was his breakthrough. “Pastures” is just one of the 29 tracks on Morricone Pops. Among the other notable songs here are Gianni Morandi’s 1962 “Go-Kart Twist,” Jimmy Fontana’s “Twist No. 9” and “Nicole,” and Luigi Tenco’s “Quello Che Conta” and “Tra Tanta Gente.” American jazz vocalist Helen Merrill’s RCA EP Sings Italian Songs (1960) is included, too, with four choice Morricone arrangements. Pops also includes highlights from early Morricone film arranging credits such as Il Rosetto (1960) and I Generale ½ (1961). The CD stops short of including Morricone’s “Ogni Volta (Every Time),” the 1964 San Remo Music Festival entry sung by Paul Anka, but touches on the highlights of the early part of a legendary career. As such, it’s sure to fascinate those only familiar with later, more mature works like Days of Heaven, Once Upon a Time in America, and The Mission – not to mention The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
After the jump, you’ll find details on Joao Donato’s Sambou, Sambou, plus order links and track listings for both titles!
Brazilian pianist and bandleader Joao Donato, born in 1934, was in on the ground floor of the bossa nova revolution. Donato’s first album, 1956’s Chá Dançante, predated bossa nova, but was helmed by a young producer by the name of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Within a couple of years, Jobim was at the vanguard of the bossa nova movement along with another Donato friend, Joao Gilberto. In 1958, Gilberto and Donato teamed up to pen some songs together, and Donato was able to spread the gospel of Brazilian music via travels to the United States. In the U.S., he worked with artists including Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente, and headlined performances in concert. Yet his own music wasn’t strictly bossa nova; Donato absorbed the sounds of North America into his 1962 album Muito A Vontade, included in full on the new Él CD. For his part, Donato considered his music “jazzier” than straightforward bossa. For Muito, Donato at the piano was joined by Milton Banana on drums, Tião Neto on bass and Amaury Rodrigues on percussion. Muito is today recognized as one of the stone-cold classics of Brazilian instrumental music, and in 1965, it was reissued on the U.S. Pacific Jazz label with the artwork and title utilized for this reissue. It’s joined here by a number of bonus tracks including the 1962 set Bossa Nova Carnival, on which vibraphonist Dave Pike’s band (including Kenny Burrell on guitar and Clark Terry on flugelhorn) surveys eight songs written by Donato.
Joao Donato returned to the United States after recording Muito and its follow-up, A Bossa muito moderna de João Donato, and spent the better part of a decade there. Over the years, he would collaborate with Americans Nelson Riddle, Chet Baker, Bud Shank and Herbie Mann as well as fellow Brazilians Eumir Deodato, Marcos Valle, and Sergio Mendes. He still resides in Brazil today.
Both Joao Donato’s Sambou, Sambou and Ennio Morricone’s Morricone Pops are available now, and can be ordered at the links below!
Ennio Morricone, Morricone Pops (Él ACMEM244CD, 2013)
- La Donna Che Vale – Alberto Lionello
- Arianna – Nora Orlandi
- Cicciona Cha Cha – Edoardo Vianello
- Qualcuno Ha Chiesto Di Me – Dora Musumeci
- Caffe a Camomilla – Dora Musumeci
- Chiudo Gli Occhi – Enrico Pianori
- Stelle e Sogni – Barbara Baldassarre
- Nello Sguardo – Barbara Baldassarre
- Notte Infinita – Peter Tevis
- Pastures of Plenty – Peter Tevis
- Perdono – Catherine Spaak
- Lungo Treno Del Sud – Tony Del Monaco
- Paura – Miranda Martino (from Rosetto)
- Un Generale e Mezzo – Edoardo Vianello (from I Generale E ½)
- Faccio Finta di Dormire – Edoardo Vianello (from I Generale E ½)
- La Tua Stagione – Tony Del Monaco (from La Voglia Matta)
- Viva Il Jump Up – The Flippers (from La Voglia Matta)
- Go Kart Twist – Gianni Morandi (from Diciotenni Al Sole)
- Donna Da Morire – Tony Del Monaco (from Diciotenni Al Sole)
- Twist No. 9 – Jimmy Fontana and Gianni Meccia (from Diciotenni Al Sole)
- Nicole – Jimmy Fontana and Gianni Meccia (from Diciotenni Al Sole)
- Twist Del Vigili – Edoardo Vianello (from I Motorizzati)
- Corri Corri – Gianni Morandi (from I Motorizzati)
- Nun e’Peccato – Helen Merrill
- Estate – Helen Merrill
- Nessuno al Mondo – Helen Merrill
- S’e’ fatto Tardi – Helen Merrill
Joao Donato, Sambou, Sambou (Él ACMEM242CD, 2013)
- Muito A Vontade
- Pra Que Chorar
- Sambou, Sambou
- Vamos Nessa
- Minha Saudade
- Naquela Base
- Olihou Pra Mim
- Tema Teimoso
- So Se For Agora
- Caminho de Casa
- Carnival Samba
- Mambinho (Little Mambo)
- Minha Saudade
- Eu Quero Um Sumba (I Want a Samba)
Tracks 1-12 from Muito A Vontade, Polygram 2493.104, 1962, reissued as Pacific Jazz ST-90, 1965
Tracks 13-20 from Bossa Nova Carnival: Dave Pike Plays the Music of Joao Donato, New Jazz NJ-8281, 1962
Tracks 21-22 from Dance Conosco (Dance with Us), 1958
Track 23 from single with Os Namorados, 1953