ARCHITECTS + POLITICS + MUSIC | The Political Thoughts of Chairman Niemeyer 1 (+ Milton Nascimento)

Niemeyer (103) and Nascimento (68) are my two living Brazilian heroes.

Both can be considered “National Living Treasures,” to borrow a cultural concept from Japan.

Both artists speak for the so-called “common man” — Oscar through his (almost) life-long commitment to communism, and Milton through the magic of his music and his heavenly voice.

Both Living Treasures were profoundly affected by the 21-year-long military regime.

Oscar went into self-imposed exile and became a Brazilian Frenchman. Meanwhile, the military regime censored some of Milton’s songs and he made albums in the United States with Airto Moreira, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny and other jazz greats, but he never abandoned Brazil.

And both were on the frontlines of the 22 June 1968 Rio de Janeiro march against the military dictatorship:

When I came across Niemeyer’s quote denouncing urbanism and architecture in favour of protesting in the streets, my favourite Milton song, Clube da Esquina No. 2 jumped into my head.

It’s a perfect song that has been recorded several times, some instrumental, some with the powerful lyrics exhorting the people to take to the streets.

The 2nd version with lyrics, from his 1994 album Angelus, is my favourite … it gives me goosebumps.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video of that version, but here is the original, instrumental, track from 1972.

I’ve always thought that the lyrics were suppressed due to the military, and maybe I’m right: he told writer Pamela Bloom in an interview published in Musician magazine that his solution to government censorship was to

“tranform my voice into an instrument. We’d write something, the censors would send it back, stamped No Way. We’d have to write the same thing in a way that the censors wouldn’t notice but the people would understand.”

That quote is from the starred links below: two designKULTUR must sees about Nascimento’s career written by Mtume ya Salaam on Breath of Life: A Conversation About Black Music (a new find on the web).

The second video is Flávio Venturini’s dreamy rendition of the song with Roberta Danton’s equally dreamy images.

Venturini (below, with Milton) was a member of the Clube da Esquina/Street Corner Club, so his version counts. The music in his rendition is strikingly similar to Milton’s second version, but nothing (sorry, Flávio) can compare to Nascimento’s vocals in their heyday — bliss, pure bliss.

The best of Brazil. In architecture and in music. Enjoy.



Frases com amor | Niemeyer Quotes | Congratulations to comrade Oscar Niemeyer for his 103 years!

designKULTUR | ARCHITECTS + MUSIC | 2 :: The Samba Side of Niemeyer

Milton Nascimento | Official Site

Breath of Life: A Conversation About Black Music | Milton Nascimento 1 > “San Vincente

Breath of Life: A Conversation About Black Music | Milton Nascimento 2 > “Ponta De Areia (Epílogo)

Breath of Life: A Conversation About Black Music | Milton Nascimento > “Nada Sera Como Antes

Wikipedia | Milton Nascimento