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July/August 2006

Luiz Bonfa
Le Roi de la Bossa Nova
Sunnyside

When Luiz Bonfá’s “Manha de Carnaval” and “Samba de Orfeo” (with lyrics by Antonio Maria) joined the legacy of bossa nova songs in the film Orfeu Negro, it was clear that the genre had found yet another “king.” This reissue of two of his recordings proves why Bonfá is heralded as one of bossa nova’s most important and prolific interpreters.

Accompanied by an unidentified horn and rhythm section and recorded in Paris in 1962 and ’63, the album features original compositions, many of them coauthored by Maria Helena Toledo, and features Bonfá’s rhythmically charged guitar style and his extraordinary, expressive vocal. The fourth track, “Dor Que Faz Doer,” includes his percussive beating on the body of the guitar, and his probing vocal on the lilting “Teu Olhar Triste” makes for one of the more tender pieces in the collection. There are some very strange choices here, however, such as the swing-shuffle instrumental “Lila,” which includes one of the weirdest guitar effects I have ever heard—something like a cross between extreme reverb and underwater “bubbles.” Thankfully, it’s the only bad apple in the bunch!

With 16 tracks, Le Roi de la Bossa Nova is a celebration of the brilliance of one of Brazil’s most beloved artists and should be a must for all avid collectors.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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