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Sivuca Vs. Sivuca – Is a 45 Year Old Bossa Nova Classic Worthy Of A Reissue?


Many of you know by now that I’m an avid record collector… Vinyl, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, DVD audio, SACD, 78’s… About the only thing I haven’t gotten deeply into is cylinders! Yeah… I love music!

A bunch of years back at a garage sale or flea market somewhere I found a curious record by an artist on Vanguard Records I’d never seen before or heard of named “Sivuca.” The cover of the album was fascinating as it showed this very intensely focused Hobbit-like Santa Claus-esque bearded man playing acoustic nylon string guitar as if he were Jimi Hendrix, against a backdrop of mountains. It looked interesting and for the dollar so I spent on it I grabbed it.

One quick play when I got home and I fell in love with Sivuca‘s music and soon found out that he was one of Brazil’s most accomplished musicians. An accompanist for Maria Makeba and Harry Belafonte, this legendary Brazilian musician has performed with Airto and had even been involved with a Broadway musical call Joy

The wonder of music, I’d never heard of this fellow and thus set about to try and find some more of his recordings. I soon found out that this was not going to be an easy task because his records were out of print and most were not available in America to begin with!

Eventually I found Sivuca‘s recordings on streaming services such as Qobuz and Tidal. And, I found one more of his albums on vinyl from a little later in his career. But I found it remarkable that it was hard to even find CDs or anything available affordably domestically.

Thus, I was excited when I learned a few months back that a re-issue was brewing of that very same Sivuca album that I picked up years ago. I finally got my hands on a copy of the reissue and generally I’m not disappointed!

My original copy of Sivuca was not in great condition and given that it was an early 70s album in Stereo — and a largely acoustic-based album to boot — the clicks and pops were actually quite a bit distracting from the music. So the new version of Sivuca is pristine and sounds crisp and clean pressed on nice purple – – possibly Quiex – – vinyl. The standard weight LP is quiet and well centered, so no problems were detected there.

I do have a suspicion that Sivuca was probably made from a digital master at its root because there’s a bit of a high end crispness that is not evident on the original analog-era 1973 pressing. However, in fairly short order once I’ve listen to the album for even just a little bit I get used to the sound of it. It is more than adequate and certainly a nicer listen than my scratchy original.

So, what does Sivuca’s music sound like, you ask?  Well, if  you like the classic Stan Getz / Joao Gilberto album from the mid ‘60s — which I reviewed recently (click here) — you’ll probably enjoy this album which crosses many boundaries of folk, jazz, pop, and Brazilian stylings.  There is a lovely pop bossa version of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” and you’ll even hear a tune written by another Brazilian musician I’ve been getting deeper into, the great Hermeto Pascoal’s “Tunnel” (I’ve written about Hermeto previously, click here for more on this amazing musician’s music). 

You can find many of Sivuca’s albums streaming on Tidal and Qobuz so do check them out if you have a subscription. You can also find an equally limited edition, multi-colored vinyl version of this album at Vinyl Me Please (click here). The purple editions — 750 copies made — seem to be available on Amazon so click on the highlighted Sivuca anywhere in this article to jump to that. I would grab one while you can.

Whatever way you listen, this album is a great introduction to the joyous hybrid universe of Brazilian folk, jazz and bossa nova stylings that is Sivuca

Following are some wonderful live performances by Sivuca and friends

Many musical riches await you around the world…

Sivuca with Hermeto Pascoal — jawdropping jazz Accordion!
Sivuca’s remarkable Accordion duel with Hermeto Pascoal on Melodica
Sivuca Live in Sweden, circa 1969

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