Luiz Carlos Vinhas-O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V.

Label: Mad About Records.

Format: LP.

Within his native Brazil, Luiz Carlos Vinhas is remembered and regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the Bossa Nova movement. He was one of the genre’s founding fathers  and was a founder member of Bossa Três in 1961. They became one of the most important groups of the Bossa Nova era and released eight albums between 1963 and 1966.  

By 1968, Luiz Carlos Vinhas had embarked upon a solo career and released O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V.. This genre-melting cult classic has been released by the Mad About label and shows another side to Luiz Carlos Vinhas’ music.

Luiz Carlos Vinhas was born in Rio de Janeiro on May the ‘19th’ 1940. Growing up, he learnt to play the piano and by the time he was a teenager, he had already decided that he wanted to make a career out of music.

His career began when he was seventeen year old.The following year, 1958, a new musical genre was born in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Bossa Nova. By then, Luiz Carlos Vinhas was already working as a session musician and was determined to be at the forefront of this new and exciting urban musical movement.

By 1961, Bossa Nova’s popularity had grown and Luiz Carlos Vinhas had been part of the new musical movement since the beginning. However, he wanted to be more than a session musicians and cofounded Bossa Três with drummer Edison Machado and double bassist Tião Neto. This was the first ever instrumental Bossa Nova group, and they would go on to write their names into Brazilian musical history.

In the early days, Bossa Três played mostly Luiz Carlos Vinhas’ compositions. He was the nascent group’s songwriter-in-chief  when they played in the nightclubs of Beco das Garrafas, in Copacabana, where they accompanied dancers Joe Benett , Lennie Dale and Martha Botelho. However, it wasn’t long before Bossa Três got the chance to travel further afield.

With the dancers, they traveled to America after being invited to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. By then, it was one of the most popular American television shows and they were about to play in front of a huge audience. This launched their career and the group decided to stay in America.

During the next few years, Bossa Três played in New York’s jazz clubs and recorded three albums. This included their finest American album Bossa Três 3. It was also the final album he group released in America.

Although Luiz Carlos Vinhas enjoyed his time in America, he missed Brazil and decided to head home in 1963. However, the other two members of the group stayed in America.

On his return home, Luiz Carlos Vinhas started looking for new band members. Eventually, he recruited drummer Ronie Mesquita and bassist Octavio Bailly Júnior for the new lineup of Bossa Três. 

1964 was an important year for twenty-four year old Luiz Carlos Vinhas. He had signed to the Forma label and released his debut solo album Novas Estruturas. Nowadays, it’s regarded as a Bossa Nova classic and one of Luiz Carlos Vinhas’ finest releases. 

The same year, 1964, he was a member of Meirelles E Os Copa 5 when they released their debut album O Som. This future classic was followed up by O Nôvo Som in 1965. It was one of the busiest years of Luiz Carlos Vinhas’ career.

By 1965, the new lineup of Bossa Três were dividing their time between playing live and recording new albums. They released three albums during 1965 and a further two during 1966. This includes Os Reis Do Rítmo in 1966 which is regarded as Bossa Três Mk II’s finest album and is anther Bossa Nova classic. 

Later in 1966, Luiz Carlos Vinhas formed The Gemini 5 who soon, began work on their debut album. This was Gemini 5 which was released in Mexico in 1967 when the group toured the country. It was the latest chapter in the Luiz Carlos Vinhas story.

In 1968, Luiz Carlos Vinhas had signed to CBS and began work on his long-awaited sophomore album. By then, four years had passed since the release of his debut album Novas Estruturas. However, he was about to record a very different album and one that reflected the music of 1968.

By then, the psychedelic era was well underway and Luiz Carlos Vinhas had been influenced by this new genre of music. It would influence O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V.. However, the starting point for the album was his first musical love Bossa Nova. To this, Luiz Carlos Vinhas  added elements of Afro-Brazilian, tropicalia, easy listening, jazz, pop and rock. This was all part of his plan to record an ambitious album befitting the new musical era. 

For the album that eventually became O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V. he wrote Tanganica and cowrote Yê-Melê and Zizê Baiô with Chico Feitosa who features on the album. Luiz Carlos Vinhas also covered some familiar tracks including Horace Silver’s Song For My Father. It was joined by Chatanooga Choo-Choo and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You which were part of two suites on the album. In total, ten tracks were recorded by Luiz Carlos Vinhas for O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V. which was scheduled for release later in 1968.

Record buyers discovered an album that was quintessentially Brazilian. Luiz Carlos Vinhas combined Bossa Nova with elements of tropicalia and Afro-Brazilian with jazz, psychedelia, pop and rock. Sampling was used on O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V. which featured bursts of birdsong, animal sounds, vocal riffing and onomatopoeia. It was an ambitious and innovative album that sometimes, seemed ahead of its time. 

O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V. was the perfect showcase for Luiz Carlos Vinhas’ skills. It featured the deft touch that had served him so well since he made his professional debut in 1957. During the album his playing was delicate and intricate as he takes the listener on a captivating journey. 

Side One.

Joao Donato’s classic Amazonas opens the album and Luiz Carlos Vinhas forever the showman reinvents this familiar track. His fingers glide and sometimes dance across the keyboard his playing smooth and inventive as he joins forces with the horns, percussion and rhythm section to ensure that this uplifting and joyous slice of musical sunshine swings. It’s a similar case on Song For My Father where Luiz Carlos Vinhas pays homage to jazz legend Horace Silver.

Among the highlights of the album are Luiz Carlos Vinhas’ own compositions. This includes Tanganica  where birdsong and animal sounds are combined with the guitar and horns. They combine with the vocals and play a leading role in sound and success of this soulful track. Then Yê-Melê is a homage to the water goddess Yoruba where blazing horns, percussion and piano drive the arrangement along. Later, drums pound, cymbals crash and a female vocalist adds umbandista chants which add a contrast to the urgency of this genre-melting track. Zizê Baiô then sashays along as braying horns punctuate this fusion of Bossa Nova, psychedelia and lo-fi sounds. 

The tempo drops on Un Jour Christine as Luiz Carlos Vinhas is transformed into a balladeer. The arrangement is understated with a late-night jazz sound that occasionally becomes lysergic and features lo-fi sounds on what’s one of the most beautiful songs on the album. 

Side Two.

Opening the second side is the first of three short suite. It opens with remakes of the jazz standards Chatanooga Choo-Choo and Don’t Be That Way and then closes with Wilson Simonal’s Tributo A Martin Luther King. Then Luiz Carlos Vinhas and his band work their way through Pourquoi, Arrasta A Sandália, Morena, Boca De Ouro and Rosa Morena. For nearly eight minutes the band and vocalists transport the listener to Rio De Janeiro as Bossa Nova, soulful vocals and high kicking horns combine. The third suite opens with celebratory sound of Birthday Morning before giving way to the easy listening classic Can’t Take My Eyes Off You which is given a makeover as Bossa Nova, soul and jazz combine seamlessly. It’s one of the highlights of side two.

Closing O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V. is O Dialogo which features Chico Feitosa on a track that includes elements of spoken word, vocal riffing and onomatopoeia. It’s without doubt one of the most innovative tracks on the album and shows that Luiz Carlos Vinhas was way ahead of his time. 

When Luiz Carlos Vinhas released O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V. in 1968, this groundbreaking genre-melting album was nowhere near as successful as his debut Novas Estruturas. It may have been that the music was too adventurous and avant-garde for fans of Bossa Três and his debut album? For Luiz Carlos Vinhas this must have been hugely disappointing.

It was only much later that O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V. started to find an audience when it was rediscovered by collectors and crate-digging DJs. Belatedly, Luiz Carlos Vinhas’ oft-overlooked and vastly underrated sophomore album O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V. started to find an audience and fifty-two years after its release is receiving the plaudits and praise it so richly deserves.

Luiz Carlos Vinhas-O Som Psicodélico De L.C.V.

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