A Birthday Salute to Noel Rosa, Samba’s Pioneering Composer.

The Malandro Project: A Birthday Salute to Noel Rosa, Samba’s Pioneering Composer

The Malandro Project: A Birthday Salute to Noel Rosa, Samba’s Pioneering Composer

The Malandro Project: A Birthday Salute to Noel Rosa, Samba’s Pioneering Composer

The Malandro Project was recorded in Rio de Janeiro with saxophonist Leo Gandelman and MPB’s Leila Pinheiro to celebrate 100 Years of Samba and its iconic character, the charming, roguish bad-boy Malandro. A combination of cultural myth and historic fact, the Malandro’s roots can be traced throughout the history of Samba. The Malandro Project album will be released in early 2017. Meanwhile, here’s another story.

Noel de Medeiros Rosa was born on this day in 1910, in Rio de Janeiro. During his short and tumultuous life, his songwriting and musical skills with the guitar and mandolin made him one of the greatest names in Brazilian popular music, and pioneer of modern Samba.

Noel gave a new twist to samba, combining its Afro-Brazilian roots with a more urban, witty language and making it a vehicle for ironic social commentary. Many refer to Rosa as Brazil’s Cole Porter.

Samba’s Pioneering Composer was… a Malandro?

Well, maybe a little bit, for although he studied for medical practice, he ended up living a Malandro-like lifestyle: he’d often spend whole nights in bars drinking and playing Samba with other musicians, ignoring his responsibilities. His mother worried.

One night, she hid all his clothes to keep him from another night of heavy drinking and singing Samba. When his friends arrived to pick him up, Noel shouted, "With what clothes?" (Com Que Roupa?).

His embarrassment led to song by the same name that became one of the biggest Carnaval hits of 1931 and the first in a string of memorable Sambas penned by Noel Rosa..

He married in 1934, but rarely had any money—just what he received from his compositions and some help from his mother. Everything he made was spent on his Bohemian lifestyle with women of ill-repute, strong drink and cigarettes —exacerbating a chronic lung condition and leading to tuberculosis which took his life in 1937.

Noel Rosa lived only 27 years but in a time span of 8 years he composed over 250 songs which have stood the test of time and sound as fresh today as when they were composed.

Listen to Noel Rosa on The Sounds of Brazil

Let us invite you to catch one of Noel Rosa’s best-known songs during the first hour of The Sunday Brazilian Brunch today at 9 am, 2 pm and 8 pm Central time, and Monday’s Brazil Back2Back at 11 am and 2 pm. Click here to listen live.

‘Feitiço da Vila’
Vadico and Noel Rosa

Quem nasce lá na vila
Nem sequer vacila
Ao abraçar o samba
Que faz dançar os galhos
Do arvoredo
E faz a lua nascer mais cedo
Lá em Vila Isabel
Quem é bacharel
Não tem medo de bamba
São Paulo dá café
Minas dá leite
E a Vila Isabel dá samba

A Vila tem
Um feitiço sem farofa
Sem vela e sem vintém
Que nos faz bem
Tendo nome de princesa
Transformou o samba
Num feitiço decente
Que prende a gente

O sol na Vila é triste
Samba não assiste
Porque a gente implora
Sol, pelo amor de Deus
Não venha agora
Que as morenas vão
logo embora
Eu sei tudo que faço
Sei por onde passo
Paixão não me aniquila
Mas tenho que dizer:
Modéstia à parte,
meus senhores,
Eu sou da Vila!

'The Spell of the Town (Vila)'

Who is born there in the Vila
Doesn't even hesitate
To embrace the samba
Which makes the branches
Of the grove dance
And the moon rise earlier
There in Vila Isabel
He who has graduated
Has no fear of the bully
São Paulo gives coffee
Minas gives milk
And Vila Isabel gives samba

The Vila has
A spell which is pure
Without candle without a penny
Which does us well
Having the name of a princess2
Transformed the samba
Into a proper spell
Which captures the people

The sun in the Vila is sad
Samba doesn't help
Because the people beg
Sun, for the love of God
Don't come now
That the dark women will
soon go away
I know all I do
Know where I'm going
Passion doesn't annihilate me
But I have to say,
modesty aside,
My friends,
I'm from the Vila

1 - Portuguese word for town is vila,
which also refers to Noel Rosa's neighborhood, Vila Isabel.

2 - Princess Isabel, daughter of Emperor Dom Pedro II. She is famous for the
Lei Áurea, The Golden Law, which freed the slaves May 13, 1888.

Our thanks to Kirsten Weinoldt for supplying the English translation of this song.

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