You know it's going to be a heavy record when DJ / collector Mr Thing asks you to keep a look out for a copy on your next digging trip to Brazil. Add on top of that, being sampled by Madlib on the track 'Curls’ on his Madvillain album, and you know you've got something extra special.
Taken from Waldir Calmon's 'Waldir Calmon E Seus Multisons' album on Copacabana (1970), from looking at this unassuming record cover featuring a middle-aged man sporting an impressive pair of glasses you wouldn't expect it to become the fabric to one of the songs from the iconic 'Madvillain’ album. But… like many things in life, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. 'Airport Love Theme’, like its name suggests, falls into full-on lounge territory. It’s feel-good music made to be the soundtrack for a utopian world that never really was. Yet behind the silky smooth groove is an addictive earworm waiting to be heard.
'Afro Son' taken from the same album, pushes things in a different direction towards a sound that is more firmly rooted in the Brazilian tradition. This quirky 60's-breakbeat-funk groove is reminiscent of French artist Jean Jacques Perrey's 'E.V.A.', also from 1970, in its melody and backbeat, where the Moog synthesizer of Perrey is replaced with a more orchestrated sound by Calmon. This track is magical, cinematic and breakbeat-laden with a hidden unknown exoticism.
Brazilian pianist, composer, bandleader and arranger Waldir Calmon had an active career in music working from the '50s right up until his passing in 1982. He was born in Rio Novo, a small town in the forest area of Minas Gerais, on 30th January 1919. Waldir's career started early, forming his first ensemble at the age of fourteen, originally working in bands in nightclubs and writing jingles. He progressed in the early '50s to a long-running career working in television. In addition to his television work, he had success with his recording vocation, mixing in the same musical circles as greats of the time such as Tom Jobi, João Gilberto and Doris Monteiro. It was reported that Waldir once said he had never stopped playing a single day and that he would like to die while working; "I don't know anything in the world as pleasant as playing”.