Marcos Valle

Marcos Valle is the Renaissance man of Brazilian pop, a singer/songwriter/producer who has straddled the music world from the early days of the bossa nova craze well into the fusion-soaked sound of '80s MPB and into the 21st century. His second album, 1965's O Compositor e o Cantor, is widely considered among the era's most important. Its hit single, "Samba de Verão," is one of the most covered songs in Brazilian music history.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1943, Valle studied classical music as a child but listened to many different types of music, especially jazz. He began writing songs with his brother Paulo Sérgio; Marcos was the tune writer, Paulo the lyricist. In the early '60s, and after Tamba Trio had a hit with his "Sonho de Maria," Valle was named Brazil's Leading Composer of the Year at the age of 19. A recording contract soon followed, and in 1964 he released his first album, Samba Demais, for EMI Brazil. A tour with Sergio Mendes & Brasil '65 the following year got him his first show business connections in America (via Merv Griffin), and in 1966, Walter Wanderley took Valle's song "So Nice (Summer Samba)" into the U.S. Top 40. Valle soon earned his own American contract, and in 1967, Warner Bros. released the instrumentals album Braziliance! One year later, his Verve debut, Samba '68, became a Brazilian classic thanks to simple, infectious pop songs like "Batucada," "Chup, Chup, I Got Away," and "Crickets Sing for Anamaria" (all of which featured spot-on harmony vocals by his wife Anamaria).

Despite the incredible promise revealed by Samba '68, it was his last American album to date. That same year, the Brazilian-only Viola Enluarada became a big hit in South America, thanks in part to the title track (with vocals by a young Milton Nascimento). The rock & roll era that had already influenced tropicalistas like Os Mutantes, Caetano Veloso, and Gilberto Gil soon began inspiring Valle as well. With albums like the irresistible 1971 classic Garra, he moved away from native Brazilian forms like the bossa nova and samba and into a rock-influenced sound that played up groove-heavy bass and smooth funk even while courting his amazing melodic sense.

During the late '80s, the rare-groove craze centered in London resurrected and relentlessly compiled dozens of crucial, overlooked tracks from the '60s and '70s, including Valle's "Crickets Sing for Anamaria." In 1995, the British Mr. Bongo label released a two-volume series (The Essential Marcos Valle) dedicated to his work. One year later, Valle appeared on the jam session compilation Friends from Rio, and in 1998 he returned with a new album, Nova Bossa Nova. In 2018 Far Out remastered and reissued Nova Bossa Nova in a 20th anniversary edition. In June of 2019 at age 76, Valle released Sempre for Far Out. Its sound was a retro mix of boogie, disco, cosmic samba, and smooth jazz-funk grafted onto socially conscious lyrics that recalled the lyric style of his progressive early-'70s recordings. Guests on the date included Azymuth's bassist Alex Malheiros, trumpeter Jesse Sadoc, and percussionist Armando Marcal.

Valle returned to the studio almost immediately and released Cinzento in March of 2020 for Deck in Brazil and Light in the Attic in the U.S. It featured collaborations with Moreno Veloso ("Redescobrir"), Bem Gil ("Protect Yourself"), Kassin ("Distant Places"), Zélia Duncan ("Rastros Raros"), Domênico Lancelotti ("Pelo Sim, Pelo Não"), and rapper Emicid on the title track. Also appearing that spring, this time from English label Far Out, was a 2020 reissue of Valle's 1972 soundtrack Fly Cruzeiro, for which he was backed by Brazilian jazz-funk fusion trio Azymuth (who took their name from one of his songs) in a set that mixed bossa, samba, synth-driven funk, and jazz fusion.

A year earlier, Valle and his wife, singer Patricia Alvi, traveled to Los Angeles to work with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad for their Jazz Is Dead label project. Though Valle had lived and worked there decades earlier, he had never recorded his own music. Using his catalog as a production guide, collaborators encouraged an album of new songs that crisscrossed his career-long obsessions with samba, bossa, MPB, and psychedelic funk. Valle arrived with a briefcase full of original material; he composed even more on the spot in the recording studio. Using vintage instruments and keyboards, the sessions plotted a 21st century overview of Valle's musical evolution. It included a duet with Alvi on the breezy "Viajando por Aí." In keeping with the Jazz Is Dead label's cataloging aesthetic, the set was titled Marcos Valle JID 003, and issued in August of 2020. A 2021 single saw Valle collaborating with Ivan Lins and Joyce on the gentle "Casa Que Era Minha."

[John Bush]

Upcoming Shows

The Fitzgerald Theater

More Shows

Turf Club

Jake Xerxes Fussell

Parkway Theater

Ty Segall Solo Acoustic

The Fitzgerald Theater

Rick Wakeman

Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater

First Avenue Goes to the Fair

with Al Church and The Congregation