Trunk is a label unlike very few. It focusses on old forgotten music magic and re-issues born from a serious dusty crate digging obsession. Unheard library music , children’s TV themes, gypsy synth , sound effects, you get the vibe. It’s a place for the strange and wonderful to be (re)discovered. To give you an idea of the kind of music they release, check out Basil Kirchen’s music for the 1968 film Negatives. Or the album Classroom Projects – Incredible Music Made By Children In Schools for an idea of the wonderful eclecticism and open mindedness on display here.
A good few months ago I overheard Gilles Peterson waxing more than enthusiastically about this record. I made a mental note but it remained on the ‘must investigate’ back-burner. On finally hearing it I can now understand why Gilles had made his point so clear. Originally from a 1950s theatrical spectacular ‘Brasiliana’ which toured the world successfully until 1957, it captivated audiences on two continents including neighbouring Argentina and Uruguay. In 1958, creator Miecio Askanasy enlisted the skills of arranger and musical director Jose Prates and recorded this soundtrack. It arrived too late to reap success and the record disappeared into absolute obscurity.
It’s so rare, this Trunk re-issue is mastered from celebrated collector and musician Ed Motta’s own far from pristine vinyl copy so you can imagine the scarcity we’re talking here. It won’t be totally immediate to some but what we have here is something very very special.
The flavour is Brazilian street rhythms, deep African roots, exotica, jazz, sensual theatre and the avant-garde. That’s quite a mix, but it feels so magically ancient, and fuses the ingredients effortlessly. It’s a musical painting of the birth of modern Brazil. There’s samba, gospel, funk, African spiritual and bossa-nova all combining so easily and influentially. Nega Zifinha is like an exotica laden Porgy and Bess with an added samba twist, Maracatu Elegante swings and swoops like Rio Meets West Side Story, while one listen to Nanã Imborô immediately informs the listener of where the main melody for Mas Que Nada comes from. Maybe it’s traditional Brazilian. I don’t know for now but what I do know is Tam . . . Tam . . . Tam. . .! is the incredible sound of the world’s funkiest nation being reborn. Let your imagination do the walking. It’s 1958, The year Brazil returned from Sweden with it’s first World Cup. Eight years after crushing defeat in the Maracana to Uruguay. Knowing how much football and music is to Brazil. Can you feel the optimism of the future bursting through the past? Only music can do this.
Once again Trunk have unearthed a classic of gigantic proportions. Obrigado Johnny Trunk!