19 December 2010

Notable Fado Records or CDs of 2010 (or so)

Because this is the first list of this type on this site, I'm going to stretch the definition of "2010" to include records that came out either in 2010 or close to it. I'm also working on another list of records: ones that I only found out about last year, but that I wish I'd found long ago.

Porta do Coração (2010)
Ricardo Ribeiro
This is a record in the grand castiço style: tough and up-front, with plenty of self-administered vocal challenges thrown in. The message comes through pretty clearly on the cover, which is a throwback to a time when appearing with a cigarette was the norm. Ribeiro's previous record (self-titled, released by Companhia Nacional de Música) was on the soft side. It was, based on my experience of hearing him a few times, very different from his approach when singing live. The new record, on the other hand, has plenty of strong, forthright and emotional tunes such as 'Agua louca da ribeira' (see video below) and 'A porta do coração'. And there are two fados that really gallop along: 'Sonho fadista' and 'Fama de Alfama'.
Os Fados de Alvorada (2010)
The label Alvroada (now defunct) was responsible for producing many great fado records during the middle of the 20th century. José Manuel Osório, a fadista and scholar of the fado, spent a couple of years combing through the archives of Alvorada and other labels to compile "Fado de A a Z", a 16-CD compendium containing one example each from about 150 different fados, along with brief histories, photos and writings associated with each fado. It's a great collection that can still be found in bookfairs in Lisbon.

Through this experience, he got the idea of collecting his personal favorites from Alvorada's catalog. He found them, had them remastered, and did all the crazy detailed work of correcting years and years of errors in documentation: everything from musicians' names and birthdates to the titles of the lyrics. He also worked assiduously to reclaim detailed biographical information on the singers. The result is three CDs worth of fantastic music, covering many different styles of fado, organized by the first name of the fadista. Alot of music here is essentially impossible to find elsewhere. The quality is uniformly high, and the details on the singers are quite informative.

If you understand Portuguese, there are numerous interviews with Osório floating around in which he discusses the project. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to mention this, but he is one of the two men in Portugal who has been living with HIV the longest. Very interesting cat.

Leva-me Aos Fados (2010)
Ana Moura
It's interesting to contrast this record with Mariza's latest. This is the fourth fado record from Ana Moura (if you don't count the live one), "just" one less than Mariza (the differences in sales are probably best measured in the hundreds of thousands). The two singers are, to me, hugely different. Ana Moura's repertory is highly personalized. It's interesting to examine her choices of songs for each record, and also live. I once heard an interview with her in which she said something like, she sings the fados that speak to her, rather than the ones that 'should' be sung. To me this sentiment really shows through in all of her records. Onstage she is phenomenal. I once heard her singing at Joe's Pub in New York. Joe's Pub is a small space. At one point, Ana said "I am now going to sing the fado like we do in Lisbon: with no microphone and no amplification." Then she laid down "Loucura". I was there with my wife, mother and aunt. At the end of the show, my aunt said "I have heard Amália, Carlos do Carmo and plenty of others singing live. She is better."

live without a mic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsWEm7KNpT8
live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDnnn4Wdyn4

Fado Tradicional (2010)
For those wanting an introduction to the mainline fado repertory of Lisbon, this is a good choice. Every fado (that is, the music) is indeed a traditional fado (except maybe one--depends on who you ask). Plus, it has a brief appearance by Artur Batalha (see below).

The second thing worth noting here is the style of presentation o the music. Mariza's previous records have all, to greater or lesser extents, mixed in nontraditional arrangements with traditional poems. This record does not. The music is played by some top-flight musicians (Ângelo Freire on guitarra portuguesa, Diogo Clemente on viola and Marino de Freitas on viola-baixo)--and always in the traditional way.

The next three records are by Lisbon locals: Lúcio Bamond, Luís Ribeiro and Jerónimo Caracol.

O Meu Fado Cumplice (Metrosom, 2010)
Lúcio Bamond
The quality of the musicians on a fado record is often an indicator of the quality of the singer and the repertory. This record was produced by Jorge Fernando (see report on Fado in NJ, below)--a wunderkind of the fado. The Portuguese guitar is played by José Manuel Neto (also mentioned below), the viola by Carlos Fonseca and the viola-baixa by Tó Moliças (longtime bassist for Rodrigo). Lúcio himself has been around for awhile. The first time I heard him sing was at the Taverna d'El Rey in the Alfama and I was really impressed. Now he is at a new place near the Elevador da Glória that looks good. I think the thing I like about Lúcio Bamond's work--aside from the high quality of his singing--is his highly personalized repertory. While he does sing the classic fados, I really appreciate his treatment of newer and less popular ones.

interview and stuff
live (with Luís Ribeiro and Lelo Nogueira)
Lúcio's own site

Espelho de Alma (2009)
Luís Matos
I first heard Luís Matos singing around the Mouraria and Bairro Alto, often with Pedro Galveias in the desgarrada (check purofado's channel on youtube for some good videos from this time). He is a smart singer, and in a live setting is very quick-witted (something essential when singing with Pedro, where the surprises come fast). The record is from the time just before he got a very high-profile gig, in Filipe Lá Féria's newest production, Fado: Historia de um Povo, which as of this writing is playing at the Salão Preto e Prata at the Casino Estoril (near Lisbon). Before this, he was singing at the Parreirinha de Alfama, and before that in Bairro Alto (in a regular gig with his wife, Ana Maurício). He gave an interview a short time ago on Rádio Amália, where he also sang some fados from the new record (link is dead, unfortunately). I mention the podcast and the new work because, since joining Lá Féria's production, Luís' voice has really matured and his stage presence has become even more confident than it was.

Fados na Voz do Jerónimo Caracol (MetroSom, nd)
Jerónimo Caracol

The Rádio Amália disco jockey Virgílio Pereira is frequently asking his late-night listeners to call in during the day and request fados by this man, Jerónimo Caracol. You can hear some samples at the link below (of the fados provided, I recommend "Sinas Trocadas"). I met him when he was singing at Vossemecê (he might still be there--I don't know). The videos below were recorded there by the great documentarian of the fado, user rosabranca on youtube. This record is worth seeking out.

Jerónimo Caracol recently (29 Dec 10) appeared on Rádio Amália for the program "Estrela da Tarde". The program is archived here. "A não perder!"

Am I missing something special that you heard this year? Leave a comment and let me know!


  1. Hi,
    It is interesting to read about your choice of cds from 2010. I write fado cd reviews for a Swedish music magazine (Lira), and they asked me to make a similar list. I don't know if this is of any interest to you, but here is my selection (when this was published on Lira´s website I added a remark about Carminho's debut cd Fado, which I think would have topped the list if it was from 2010 - but EMI Music Portugal issued her cd in 2009.)

    1. Gonçalo Salgueiro. Fado. CNM.
    2. Joana Amendoeira. Sétimo Fado. Nosso fado.
    3. Mariza. Fado Tradicional. EMI Music Portugal.
    4. Carlos Zel. Quartas de Fado. Movieplay.
    5. Katia Guerreiro. Os Fados do Fado. JBJ & viceversa.
    6. Mafalda Arnauth. Fadas. Universal.
    7. Ricardo Ribeiro. Porta do Coração. EMI Music Portugal.
    8. Camané. Do Amor e dos Dias. EMI Music Portugal.
    9. Ana Laíns. Quatro Caminhos. Difference.
    10. Cristina Nóbrega. Retratos. Sony Music.
    11. Ana Moura. Leva-me aos Fados. Universal.
    12. Marco Rodrigues. Tantas Lisboas. Universal.

    Best regards,
    Ulf Bergqvist, Stockholm

    1. Ulf--did you make a list for last year (2012)?

  2. Ulf:

    Thanks for the list--it's definitely of interest. Joana, Mafalda and Kátia are three of my favorites. Marco Rodrigues I do not know, and I have an uncertain relationship with Carlos Zel's music. I'll go try to find both of those records.

    I felt the same way about Carminho's disk by the way. The more I hear it the more I like it.

    Keep in touch, and best regards, DM

  3. Ulf: I finally thought to go up on the Lira site and have Google translate the reviews from Swedish to English. I am really impressed by the coverage that you've given to the fado over the years! I hope the people within the fado scene realize just how deep a view you are providing for the Swedish audience. Best regards, David

  4. as well as for North America