Ana Mazzotti ‘Ninguém Vai Me Segurar’ LP/CD (Far Out Recordings) 4/5

Ana Mazzotti came from the city Caxias do Sul, an area established by Italian Immigrants around 1900, the mountainous region is situated in the southern part of Brazil and approximately 18 hours train journey north to the nearest cultural hub ‘São Paulo’ and 25 hours travel to Rio de Janeiro. Ana Mazzotti’s first instrument as a child prodigy was the accordion, a particularly common instrument of the area with its Italian and Germanic roots. From accordion to the piano, conducting and singing, Ana Mazzotti’s life was moulded around music from an early age.

Ana Mazzotti was an independent spirit during a period in Brazil when it was extremely difficult for women to lead singers unless you lived in the larger more culturally embracing cities such as Rio or São Paulo. Entwined within the conservative society around Caxias do Sul with its strong threads of religious tradition made it difficult for strong independent female personalities such as Ana’s to thrive, but she persisted against the mainstream and, inspired by the 1960’s tropicalia movement through psychedelic bands such as Os Mutantes and the hippie movement, Ana Mazzotti eventually moved to the cultural hubs of Rio and São Paulo. It was here that she met and collaborated with Azymuth at a time when they were recording their seminal debut album during the early mid-1970s.

Much like Ana Mazzotti, Azymuth were pioneers and free-spirited artists who retained their artistic integrity and sensitivity, so it was fitting that the group and Ana worked together. The myth surrounding this seminal album has built around the artists and stories which have travelled through time inspired by the compelling story of this super musician who represented strength and independence against the status quo. From holding a community together as a teacher and conducting choirs and orchestras, Ana’s life was treasured by many within her Caxias do Sul community and further afield, albeit with hindsight as we don’t often appreciate the challenge to our core beliefs at the time. She was a persistent character whose panoramic view in life enriched many of those around her.

Recorded in Rio de Janeiro 1974, this classic debut album by Ana Mazzotti sees a welcome reissue through the Far Out imprint, and who better to channel this important historical piece of music. It’s an album which featured members of the seminal Azymuth group including Jose Roberto Bertrami who also co-arranged with Ana Mazzzotti.

Recorded at the legendary recording studio Estúdio Haway, located in Rio de Janeiro, around the same time as Azimuth’s seminal self-titled debut album,’Ninguém Vai Me Segurar’ has since become a cult classic since its release in 1974. It’s one of only two albums recorded by Ana Mazzotti in the 1970s, with many highly esteemed Brazilian musicians such as Hermeto Pascoal regarding her talents of a superstar quality. Had she lived longer the world would have been graced with many more sublime albums and collaborations and probably many within a more jazz setting such as the early 1980s album, ‘Festival de verão do Guarujá 82’, which is evident of a more jazz influence.

The album kicks off with the samba jazz classic ‘Agora Ou Nunca Mais’; a memorable moment from the album enhanced not only by the nuanced delivery by Ana but also the tempered swirling effects from synth and percussion. A faint recollection of Tania Maria springs to mind. ‘Roda Mundo’ is a catchy mid-tempo funky atmospheric number accentuated by some poignant contributions by Azymuth’s bassist Alex Malheiros and percussionist Ariovaldo Contestini. It’s a short track packing a punch, with the synthesizer sounds adding a welcome timely dimension. In 1995 vocalist Salome De Bahia covered the track for the Reminiscence Quartet on their ‘Psycodelico’ release on the French label ‘Yellow Productions’, slightly elevating the funk aspect without taking anything away from the original and it worked well.

‘De Um Jeito Só’ and ‘Acalanto’ both add a calm note to the album with sweeping electronic effects gracing the soft vocal tone of Ana Mazzotti’s delivery and they both are full of depth of statement.

‘Eu Sou Mais Eu’ is a beautiful midtempo funk-tinged track has touches of Elis Regina about it. An uplifting spritely number that states her ‘ I Am More Me’ translation. The track also featured on Mr Bongo’s excellent Brazilian Beats compilation in 2000.

‘Bairro Negro’ is a symbolic composition harking back to her teaching period within the neglected and sometimes violent schools wherein she gave her heart and soul for the protection of the students back in Caxias do Sul. It’s a downtempo dreamy affair with some great spaced out effects and a perfect delivery from Ana Mazzotti creating one of the highlights from the album. Thirty years later DJ Spinna’s clever sampling of the track added a unique twist to the Jigmastas cut ‘C.S.S’ from the 2001 album ‘Infectious’ and possibly opened up further interest through inquisitive diggers and collectors alike.

Ana Mazzotti brings a soulful dream-like warmth to ‘Feel Like Making Love’ that is enhanced by the synthesizer effects and microphone echo adding a lo-fi feel that really embraces Eugene McDaniel’s song. Although not as striking as say Ricardo Morrero’s interpretation a few years later it’s a fitting song for this album bridging the uptempo and more laid back songs.

The album was self-funded at the time by the artists and thus was never really circulated as it should have been. The result was that it faded into obscurity unable to gain radio play because many stations demanded money for playing tracks unless the music was heavily promoted by the label. An important album that is thankfully now remastered and available this September on 180g vinyl and CD.

Mark Jones