I started to listen to the complete discography because of the general remastering and remixing of some tracks, already thinking that at some point I’d feel a certain discomfort: a flawed arrangement, a bad mixing, an overdone interpretation, a not-so-good song, an old-fashioned keyboard (It has never been easy to find a definite sound in such a diffuse universe).
During the first song, I tried to listen from a chronological perspective. I thought about my first producer, Aloysio de Oliveira, an able man, really enthusiastic about me. I made the 60 songs I had available for his appreciation as only 12 would be chosen. I thought: what will it be? It was my first and most expected album – I had to get it right. Anyway, he called me and said: I have the 12, but you can change them, if you’d like that. And he gave me a list with 8 sambas. I looked at that and thought: Oh, God! That’s not it! I felt like arguing with him, but I was afraid he was right. And he was! He saw the diversity I wanted to show on the first album on the sambas chosen.
The album’s audition went on facing unforgettable moments. I recorded my second album far from my tutor’s wings, João Araújo. EMI, owed by Mariozinho Rocha, was the beginning of all that is there today. Albums for which I could count with the participation of idols such as Chico, Caetano and Gil. I wrote songs for them and all stars I admire!
Sony came next to open up new horizons. Its president, Thomás Muñoz, proposed that I recorded and lived in the United States. I said that I’d record there, but I’d never live anywhere else than in Brazil. In March 1982, taking the band Sururu de Capote with me, I landed in Los Angeles to record LUZ, with the participation of musicians from the US, or who had settled there, and Stevie Wonder. It was a lot happening at once. When the possibility of getting Stevie’s participation opened up, I already had the right song to welcome him with: “Samurai”. He arrived on board of a brown Rolls Royce. We were all by the studio’s door to see him arrive. It was a joy. Stevie sat at the piano and started playing randomly: Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Gershwin... At a certain point he said: I just wrote a new song. And he started singing “Overjoyed”. After that he wanted to hear what was there for the album. There was basically everything. He then listened to “Samurai”, about four or five times, picked up his harmonica and started playing together; he rocked!
The next album showed me a lot of people’s rage. LILÁS brought about a sonority that was only beginning to be explored in the world. Even with the participation of Sururu de Capote, because of the keyboard, the album sounded electronic. For someone who had just worked on a well-praised semi-acoustic album, that was a mortal sin. Some asked what I was doing with my career. But, a few others said that the album contained a certain pioneering aesthetic, what served me just enough to put away that almost rejection that was hanging over my head for a work that had classics such as “Lilás” and “Esquinas” and a song that gave me the most beautiful moment of all recording: “Obi”. A good song, with well-constructed lyrics, the Sururu band on their prime and strings by the English Jeremy Lubbock. There were 36 musicians on the Sunset Sound (bass, cello, viola and violin). By the time the conductor put his arm down, we were all touched.
Back to Brazil, I decided that the next album would be recorded here. I got in the studio to record MEU LADO, at the end of 1985, with only Brazilian musicians. “Asa”, a song loved by Brazilian and American musicians, is the symbol of this time of my life. This is a transition album. From that point onwards I started to take on more space with my productions, as I’ve said before, to get faster where I knew I wanted to go.
In 1987, still on my search, just as today, I went back to Los Angeles to record NÃO É AZUL MAS É MAR. Sururu de Capote was once again right there together with Ronnie Foster, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Greg Phillinganes. But the piano played by George Duke in “Bouquet” was the most touching moment for me.
The end of the decade arrived with OCEANO, making me feel overwhelmed with so much success, even after being delighted during the recording with the hyperactivity of Paco de Lucia’s hands! How can someone play so well?!
A bit lost, without knowing what to do, I started to record COISA DE ACENDER. It was mid-1991 and I only had three songs. It wasn’t a problem: I always liked to write while engaged in the recording process. It’s inspiring. That’s how I gave birth to “Boa Noite”, “Se”, “Linha do Equador” with Caetano, “Violeiros”, “Outono” and so many others. This album is mentioned by a lot of people as their favorite.
In the album NOVENA, I wanted to turn music scarcity into an advantage, on how to get enough from so little. With those musicians, it wasn’t hard. We made a very beautiful album.
The albums MALÁSIA and BICHO SOLTO close the 1990’s with my utmost enthusiasm for the role of the arranger. There were things that I liked more, some others less, but I already considered making music arrangements as important as song writing. A delight.
It was in the year 2000 that I started to pay more attention to the market. The album AO VIVO sold four times more than my best-selling album up to that moment (LUZ, 500 thousand copies). Things started to happen between the recording company, eager to repeat that feat, and me, eager to run from it. I left Sony little by little. I still recorded MILAGREIRO with them, an album that I like so much. And I started Luanda.
The idea was to, more and more, manage the career in a more personal manner, and for the challenge itself. The remixing of some of the tracks from the album VAIDADE happened because of a wish to improve what needed to continue to be what it had always been: the level of some instruments, equalizations, things that bothered only me.
MATIZES was the greatest revelation from all this and the only one that I remixed entirely. At that time, I had left this album with a feeling of unfulfilled duty. I didn’t handle the problems that involved it and I wasn’t fully satisfied with the final result. But, as time is pressing, I forgot it. Then, as I listened to it again, I soon identified all that needed to be done and the album revealed itself as a new one – lost nuances showed themselves, arrangements sounded imperative, voices as I’ve always wanted to hear them. That’s great!
Finally, the old dream of making an album not my own becomes reality with ÁRIA. The original idea was to reedit the crooner phase from the beginning of my career. But there was much more: how to make an album only with songs from other songwriters one of my own? What to sing, and how? I didn’t know what to do! I decided to follow my instincts. I would hum the songs, getting comfortable with them, feeling what they wanted to continue to be beautiful as they had always been. And so, the album came out.
All concerns and difficulties faced by those who go after things increase the glory achieved. After all that, you get the impression that it’s reasonable to dedicate an entire life to music, what allows you, like an actor, to be others as I have always dreamed.
Djavan /October, 2014.