80-minute disco/boogie mixtape featuring Brazilian producer and arranger Lincoln Olivetti
The Ambassador spins funky gems in Brazilian Boogie Boss 1978–1984
by Allen Thayer
In honor of Brazilian musician, songwriter, arranger, and producer extraordinaire Lincoln Olivetti, who turned 60 on April 17, Wax Poetics scribe and Bay Area DJ Allen Thayer offers up an 80-minute mixtape called Brazilian Boogie Boss 1978–1984.
Check the crazy playlist below.
Lincoln Olivetti came of age in the recording studios of Rio de Janeiro as a protégé to the legendary dance-band leader, Ed Lincoln. In 1970 he released a little-known LP of pop-covers in a dance style, much like dozens of other similar remakes albums. Hot Parade #1 didn’t exactly make Lincoln a household name, so instead he turned his attention towards playing sessions, arranging, and eventually producing music for other artists often in collaboration with friend and partner Robson Jorge. Back cover detectives will know that Lincoln’s name begins to be seen on productions for CBS around 1976 and by 1978 where this mix begins, his distinct production aesthetic, and employment of some of the best studio players in Rio began to make him a desirable producer. By 1980, he produced the biggest names in the business, at least the funkier ones, like Jorge Ben, Tim Maia, and Erasmo Carlos. Between 1982 and ’84, he was producing for just about anybody who could afford his services (Tim Maia preferred to work with Lincoln when he could afford him), and he even recorded an album with his frequent collaborator, Robson Jorge.
He’s been called “the wizard of the studios” and “pop magician” and was known to literally sleep (or not sleep; cocaine is a hell of a drug) in the recording studio during his hey day. Resulting from his omnipresence the decade before, ’90s found Lincoln on the outs, but beginning again with collaborations with Ed Motta and Lulu Santos, he’s returned to the spotlight a bit. While Brazilian music heads may know his name, it’s safe to assume that most adventurous music listeners outside of his homeland have never heard of him, though they may have heard some of the songs he produced for others. Unlike Quincy Jones or Niles, Lincoln rarely sought the spotlight, making finding photos of him nearly impossible, but to turn the old saying on its head: if pictures tell a thousand words, then the two words “Lincoln Olivetti” on the back of a Brazilian album more than make up for the lack of photos as his unmistakable touch is worth more than a thousand lyrics, musical notes, or rhythms. This era (late ’70s to early ’80s) of Brazilian Black music deserves a closer look as song-for-song, record-for-record, the Brazilian output courtesy of heavyweights like Oberdan Magalhes (and his Banda Black Rio bandmates) and the boys from Azymuth, and of course Lincoln (and friends) rivals the best records of this style of music produced anywhere in the world.
1. Dicró “Disco Voador” from Dicró (Continental) 1979
The space-funk-samba opening sample is from an otherwise unremarkable late-’70s studio samba album from also-ran samba singer Dicró, but upon closer look on the back cover we see this: Oberheimer: Lincoln Olivetti em “Disco Voador.” We listened. We probably paid upwards of ten bucks for those twenty seconds, but as the intro to this tribute and the only song here that wasn’t at least arranged by Lincoln, it’s simple, beautiful, and hypnotic—all traits you’ll hear as you listen to the next 24 tracks.
2. Marcia Maria “Amigo Branco” from Marcia Maria (Capitol) 1978
This 1978 album by Marcia Maria already finds the nucleus of Lincoln’s team for the majority of the tracks on this mix already in place. We have first-mate Robson Jorge playing piano and guitars and rising trumpet star Marcio Montarroyos. Marcio is frequently featured in Lincoln’s productions and is heard throughout this mix. He went on to record a couple jazz albums in the U.S. on CBS and one track featuring arrangements by Lincoln nearly made this mix. Back to Marcia, she’s mostly known as a samba singer, and much of this stellar album is more traditional samba, but like this tune that was written by the young female sambista Leci Brandão, it deftly dances between funk and samba in style and swing. Lincoln did some production as early as 1976, but for my ears, it’s really around 1978 that he fully takes the production reigns and begins crafting his unique and modern take on popular Brazilian music.
3. Erasmo Carlos “Alem Do Horizonte” with Tim Maia from Convida (Polygram) 1980
Lincoln had made it to the big time by 1980 producing for Jorge Ben, Tim Maia, and now Erasmo Carlos (among countless others) all in the same year. The beat on this one jumps out of the speakers, and the horns, as usual, are impeccable. Tim and Erasmo’s chemistry is apparent (they were childhood friends), and the song just builds and builds with great tension. After meeting and interviewing the dudes from Javelin, I sent them some Erasmo Carlos as they hadn’t heard him and were digging other similar stuff. I saw them months later in Austin at SXSW and they couldn’t stop talking about this song and how crazy the beat is. I don’t even know what to call that… Go-Go-Samba?
4. Jorge Ben “Rio Babilonia” from Dádiva (Som Livre) 1983
By 1983, Lincoln had been working with Jorge for four years—since 1979’s Salve Simpatia—and, in fact, this is probably their biggest hit together as it was also the theme song to a popular film. By this album, we see Lincoln’s other partner/protégé, Serginho Trombone, taking the helm on all the tracks except for this one. Of all the Lincoln Olivetti–produced Jorge Ben songs, this one, to me, is the best synthesis of Jorge’s groove with Lincoln’s modern production. Despite most of the instruments having an ’80s compressed and electronic sound, the songs still bumps in a very organic way.
5. Tony Bizarro “Estou Livre” (Elektra) 1983
Here we have a later Tony Bizarro tune in a very similar style to the Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti album from 1982. I’ll venture to guess that Tony and Lincoln were homies as we know they go as far back as Tony Bizarro’s first solo single on CBS from 1976, which includes a track arranged by Lincoln. And then there’s Lincoln and Robson’s album that notes Tony as a backup singer. This testament to bachelorhood (“Estou Livre” = I’m Free) was arranged and produced by Lincoln as well as cowritten with Robson Jorge and Tony Bizarro.
6. Painel de Controle “Black Coco” (RCA) 1978
Aside from his self-titled 1982 album with Robson Jorge, Olivetti’s work with the disco-pop group Painel de Controle might be the closest we come to “solo” Lincoln Olivetti, as his style is all over nearly all of their songs. As far as I can tell, this tune was their biggest hit, as the album this is from is their most common, and I found the single a couple of times while digging in Brazil. Sure, it’s kinda derivative of some other pop-disco from the late ’70s, but it’s also extremely catchy and funky, and once again the production raises an otherwise marginal lyric and song into a club classic and Brazilian disco guilty pleasure.
7. Tim Maia “Não Vá” from Tim Maia (Polygram) 1980
Tim, like Jorge Ben, starting working with Lincoln in the late ’70s—after disbanding his legendary group, Vítoria Regia, that served him well on his first nine studio albums. By Tim’s third album with Lincoln and Robson behind the boards, we hear—again like with Jorge Ben’s “Rio Babilonia”—a synthesizing of their respective styles. The song’s cowritten by all three and features Tim’s slow-burning and romantic lyrics (“Não Vá” = Don’t Go) set to some of the finest modern soul production found anywhere in 1980. This is possibly one of my favorite tunes on the mix. I love the song structure: half vocal, half instrumental outro with a massive bass solo dividing the two. I could live in that outro.
8. Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti “Eva” from S/T (Som Livre) 1982
If the last song was one of my favorites, this is the tune that got me to fall in love with Lincoln’s (& Robson’s) sound. Back in the mid-2000s, I managed to score a copy of this LP at the WFMU record fair from a Brazilian named Wolmar, who always gave excellent recommendations. Despite the later vintage and corny-ish album cover, I took his word for it and took it home. Before the boogie revival was in full effect as it is now, I felt a little embarrassed at first jamming to these mellow-jazz grooves, but the songs were too good to ignore and I dove deeper, eventually finding us right here rocking an 80-minute Lincoln Olivetti mega-mix! Thanks, Wolmar!
9. Emilio Santiago “Dentro De Você” from Ensaios de Amor (Polygram) 1982
Emilio Santiago made a hat trick of albums with Lincoln Olivetti in the early ’80s, with this one from 1982 being the first. This is also the first appearance (of a few) of Marcos Valle in this mix—this time as the songwriter. This romantic groover gets off to a slow start, but then really heats up as Emilio digs into the song and Lincoln’s rhythm track intensifies.
10. Almir Ricardi “Tô Parado Na Tua” from Festa Funk (RGE) 1984
Almir, like Tony Bizarro, is one of the true blue-eyed-soul singers of the Brazilian soul set, though until recently I thought this was his only release. Turns out he has a killer beat ballad from 1970! This album goes so far as to print on the cover that it’s the Lincoln Olivetti & Robson Jorge band, and sure enough this whole album sounds like an extended recording session from the duo’s album, but two years later!
11. Cristina Conrado “Sempre Juntos” (WEA) 1984
The only release to my knowledge by the sexy Cristina Conrado, this one borrows some ambience from Lionel Richie’s big hit around this time during the “party breakdown.”
12. Gang Do Tagarela “Melô do Tagarela” [“Rapper’s Delight” Instrumental] (RCA) 1980
I didn’t even know this one had anything to do with Lincoln Olivetti, but when I came across this want-list item on my last trip to Brazil, I picked it up (without the picture sleeve) and noticed the maestro’s name on the label. Listening to it now, it seems obvious with that trumpet (Marcio?) solo and keyboard textures. I’ll take this instrumental over the corny “rap” version by Miele on the A-side any day.
13. Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti “Aleluia” [B-side to “Babilonia Rock”] (Som Livre) 1982
This one is just bonkers! What a strange arrangement and the caveman-scats (Parliament “Night of the Thumpasorus peoples” reference?) and good-times vibe make it a Brazilian boogie classic and fan favorite. Maybe this is where we can talk about Jerry Hey. Whatch’all know about Jerry Hey? He was the trumpet player in the jazz-funk outfit Seawind before moving from Hawaii to L.A. to become the go-to horn arranger for Quincy Jones and pretty much anyone else who likes smart, tight, dynamic horn parts. Just like I’m reading liner notes to find out about Lincoln, Lincoln was studying Jerry and, while not being a horn player himself, adapted that style of bright and funky horn parts for his Brazilian pop, funk, and samba arrangements (thanks, Alexei).
14. Sandra Sá “Pela Cidade” from Vale Tudo (RGE) 1984
Speaking of a horn arrangement that sounds like it could have been lifted from an Earth, Wind & Fire album…like the vocal arrangements too. This tune is from Sandra Sá’s third and biggest album. Lincoln only worked on a few tracks for this album, and I stumbled upon this tune when doing some research for this mix as I had previously gravitated towards another song, “Trem da Central,” from this album, previously overlooking this cut. Those “bah-da-dows” sound a lot like the “Bah-dai-ahs” vocalese on EWF’s ersatz Brazilian song, based on a Milton Nascimento tune, “Brazilian Rhyme.”
15. Painel de Controle “Relax” from Chama A Turma Toda (RCA) 1979 [mine’s from a “best of” collection]
Here’s another tune from Painel de Controle and my favorite of theirs off their final album, from 1979. The original cover shows the band lounging on a boat, making this the ultimate Brazilian “yacht rock” album. The bubbling percussion throughout and that bouncing bass line keep this song moving along despite its ultimatum to “relax.”
16. Dedé “Sinceramente” (CBS) 1983
The only release that I’m aware of from Dedé, I got this single years back but without the picture sleeve and the label was so worn, I couldn’t read the arrangement credit: Lincoln Olivetti. I upgraded recently, just in time to confirm Lincoln’s role here and include it on the mix. The groove here reminds me of a sped-up “Just Chillin’ Out” by Bernard Wright.
17. Cristina Camargo “Moral Tem Hora” from S/T (CBS) 1980
I think I heard somewhere that Cristina is Cesar Camargo Mariano’s sister. Her only LP finds her recording a tune off of Marcos Valle’s “come-back” album from 1980. The song, “Pecados de Amor,” has a different title, meaning “Morals Have Their Time.” While I love Marcos’s version, Lincoln really kicks Cristina’s version into overdrive with a bed of funky percussion and the killer breakdown (I love the silence before the music comes back in). She also brings some great aggression to the vocals as if she’s growling them into the microphone.
18. Junior Mendes “Copacabana Sadia” from Copacabana Sadia (RCA) 1982
I’ve been working on this mix (in my head) for months, possibly a year, so to say that Ed Motta’s AOR Mix was an inspiration is not exactly right, but when I saw how heads reacted to his mix, I thought maybe there’s a bigger audience for this kinda stuff than I thought. This is the only track shared in common between Ed’s mix and mine. I would have considered skipping it, but this track by Junior Mendes is about as quintessentially Lincoln as anything, so I had to include it. The horns keep it moving along and the “Copacabana” breakdown before the transition cheekily interpolates Barry Manilow’s coda into the song’s finale.
19. Marcos Valle “Bicicleta” (Som Livre) 1984
Marcos finally appears under his own power on this legendary single-only release and follow-up to his massive hit, “Estrelar,” also produced by Lincoln. Like Jorge Ben and Tim Maia, Marcos is a self-contained artist who doesn’t need much help with the music or lyrics (his brother usually does those), but Lincoln’s production provides the funky and propulsive backbone to this whimsical song about the joys of bicycle-riding.
20. Sandra Sá “Se Grile Não” (excerpt) from Olhos Coloridos (RGE) 1982
I Just love the intro to this song. It was originally going to be the intro to the mix, but upon a friend’s suggestion, I switched it for that Dicró excerpt and instead used this funky nugget to transition to some mid-tempo tunes to close out the mix. This is also a great example of the creative and elaborate intros Lincoln would often include in his productions. Almost all of the songs on this mix have some kind of complicated intro like this, whether I choose to include them in the mix or not.
21. Claudia Telles “Conselhos” from S/T (CBS) 1978
Thanks to Sean from Brazilian Beat Brooklyn for turning me on to this great mid-tempo tune built on a hand-clap party groove. From what I understand, it was Claudia Telles’s previous album that included one of Lincoln Olivetti and Robson Jorge’s earliest hits as producers.
22. Viva Voz “Fugitivos De Azul” (Som Livre) 1984
Viva Voz has a couple albums as a jazz-pop-vocal group, but with this Lincoln Olivetti production from 1984, we hear the group move in the modern soul direction with some great mid-tempo production and killer ensemble vocals.
23. Jon Lucien “Come With Me to Rio” (Som Livre) 1983
This is the tune I was really waiting to get before I did this mix. I was aware of this song for a while, but no one knew much about it, and the best I could find was a lo-fi MP3 of the tune online, that is until my last trip to Brazil… My man Edson hooked me up with this one, which he explained many collectors don’t know about either from the Jon Lucien (Brazil-only single) angle or the Lincoln Olivetti angle. This is classic Lincoln production with the elaborate intro involving some superb scatting from Jon Lucien before relaxing into a mellow and subtle groove. You would have thought that someone in the studio would have told Jon it’s pronounced “SAW-mba” not “SAM-ba”… This tune was the theme song to a popular film around this time called Noites Cariocas.
24. Emilio Santiago “Velhas Içadas” (exceprt) from Ensaios De Amor (Polygram) 1982
Here’s another excerpt that should probably be credited to Lincoln Olivetti or Marcio Montarroyos (sounds like him on trumpet) for the magic they put into this killer outro-groove. The entire song itself is not to my liking, but this minute-long bass-heavy trumpet groove is the perfect finale to the mix.
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