Cesar Mariano & CIA – São Paolo Brasil, 1977

Guest post by Paul Bowler (Universal Music / Twitter)

Cesar Mariano is best known as the producer, arranger, and one-time husband of Elis Regina, though he recorded a wealth of classic recordings as a pianist in his own right. Famed for his ability to swing, Mariano’s 1960s recordings with the Sambalanço Trio and Som Três masterfully paired jazz modes with bossa nova rhythms.

This 1977 album saw him shift towards jazz fusion, delivering an uncompromising take on the genre, full of dramatic tempo changes and neat Brazilian twists. “Metropole” begins with a hard-edged, Herbie Hancock-esque funk workout before slowing to a crawl of dreamlike synths, with the deepest of basslines and a dramatic, sprint-like finish. “Estação do Norte” switches from elegant classical piano to a Rhodes-led carnival of sunshine melodies, whistles, and manically charged percussion. Mariano’s unaccompanied, dextrous piano opens “Futebal de Bar” before a cavalcade of percussion is unleashed – cut frustratingly short. Standing toe-to-toe with the fusion greats, it’s little wonder that prices for original pressings are eye-watering. Grab a copy below.

Marcos Valle – Marcos Valle, 1983

Guest post by Wesley P. Allard
Marcos Valle’s Marcos Valle is a quintessential example of Brazilian boogie. Valle began writing and recording this record following his return home to Rio in 1980 after an extended furlough in Los Angeles where he met future collaborator and legendary R&B and Soul composer, Leon Ware (whose talents are demonstrated on this album a number of times, namely on linear party tracks like “Dia D,” which he wrote and recorded). The record’s single, opening track “Estrelar,” was successfully marketed as “workout music” by Brazilian record label Som Livre, which contributes to the kitschy allure imposed by the dazzling album cover.
This album is cooling exotic bliss in a sonic form. It flows seamlessly from tracks like “Naturalmente” to “Viola Enluarada” like some hyper-evolved liquid hell-bent on making you relax in ecstasy. Mentally isolate any one slice of this album (e.g. the production, arranging, melody, etc.) and you’ll be hypnotized by shimmering rays of sonic pulchritude. Overall this album is a consistently funky piece of jazz-infused soul that doesn’t compromise its Latin roots, and it definitely invokes the same dancing proclivity attached to those roots. From gliding and skipping bass, to elegant samba standards like “Samba De Verao,” to the warm embrace of a Fender Rhodes, this album is nearly perfect and requires not a single press of the “skip” button…devour in its entirety!

Steve Hillage – Rainbow Dome Musick, 1979

Raindrops, whale sounds, Tibetan bells, Fender Rhodes, guitars, arp, and Moog make up this wild style synth head-trip and seminal ambient album. Steve Hillage and long-time partner Miquette Giraudy perform triumphantly here. Wordless music at its best, and essential listening for all synth psychonauts.


Steven Halpern – Spectrum Suite, 1975

This album is a close tie with Iasos’ Inter-Dimensional music as the first new age album ever, both released in 1975. There are a zillion versions of this record floating around; the version linked above was released in 1979. The first side is simply Steven on the the Fender Rhodes. On the b-side, he breaks out the Orchestron and the Prophet 5 and is joined by Iasos on the flute. Shimmering, perfect arpeggiation.