If the title of Os Catedráticos 73 didn’t include its vintage, it would have been obvious anyway. Everything, from the faux-monochrome cover art to the CTI house horns to Orlandivo’s funky cowbells and Durval Ferreira’s wah-wah guitars that back Eumir Deodato’s piano and Hammond B-3, screams 1973. But if this Brazilian groove music is dated, it’s also delightful—and, with its remastered clarity, as danceable as ever.
The level of improvisation on the album is quite low. It’s always Deodato on organ, always very short (if meaty), and usually comes with the track’s fadeout. (A solo part in the idle of “Atire A 1a Pedra” sounds improvised, until it’s followed by a close paraphrase from the horns.) That and its funk-pop beats belie the “jazz” categorization—as does its tendency to borrow the gauzy horn-and-flute voicings of Muzak, as on “Puma Branco (The White Puma)” and “Passarinho Diferente (The Bird).”
On the other hand, the groove and texture can have harder edges than they first appear to. “Extremo Norte” builds on a gospel piano vamp and Nashville country rhythm, and the opening “Arranha Ceu” has an irresistible bass line; with Deodato’s choogling organ and trumpet-trombone riffs, it sounds like a blend of Brazilian tropicalia and Frank Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia.”
More to the point, though, if bossa nova rhythms carry any resonance for you, you simply will not care about whether the textures are softened or the improv is restrained. The too-warm John Frosk flugelhorn on “Flap” still commands movement as surely as Deodato and the rhythm section do, and “To Fazendo Nada (Down the Hill)” is as pure in its groove as any João Gilberto record. A candy-coated marvel such as Os Catedráticos 73 leads one to ask why this music was ever allowed to go out of fashion in the first place.