Nara Leão and “5 Na Bossa”

I stumbled across 5 Na Bossa quite by accident, as part of a search for Edu Lobo’s recordings.  For those unfamiliar with it, this album is a live recording on the Philips label from 1965, at the Paramount Theatre in Sao Paulo, featuring Nara Leão, Edu Lobo, and the Tamba Trio (Luiz Eca, Bebeto, Ohana) as a quintet, each being featured in turn.  This performance comes at the tail end of the Bossa Nova movement in Brazil, when artists like Lobo and Leão began to drift towards the Música Popular Brasileira (MPB) movement in Brazilian music.

Nara Leão (b. 1942) began playing guitar at age 12 to overcome childhood shyness, and after singing and performing for a few years, turned professional in 1963 and began touring.  She called Bossa Nova “alienating” in 1964, and was one of the early proponents of the MPB movement.  The change in Brazilian government to a dictatorship in the mid 60s, Leão’s music began to take a more political stance as a means of protest, and relocated to Paris.  By the mid 70s, she set music aside to raise a family.  She began recording more prolifically in 1979 when she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and passed away in 1989.

As we are naturally inclined to do, there are a handful of A&M connections here.  First, Edu Lobo not only recorded an album for A&M (Sergio Mendes Presents Edu Lobo), he penned many of the tunes which Sergio Mendes and others would record for the label.  And speaking of Sergio Mendes, Leão toured with Mendes as a vocalist back in 1963.  Finally, Tamba Trio appeared on the A&M/CTi label with two albums and a commercially unreleased single.   All are featured in turn on this album.

5 Na Bossa (Ao Vivo)Sadly, the sound quality is rough on 5 Na Bossa, made even worse on the digital release I have by very heavy-handed noise reduction that muffles the sound.  Amazon has this available as an MP3 download, as does iTunes, for the curious; I have not checked it for sound quality.  Notable here are inclusions of Lobo’s popular track “Reza,” and the vocal pairing of Lobo and Leão on “Aleluia.”  Also, Tamba Trio’s two features utilize the same arrangements of “Consolação” and “O Morro Não Tem Vez” which would appear a few years later on We and the Sea.

While this isn’t exactly an essential recording, it does highlight a lesser-known Brazilian artist, and exists as an important document of Brazilian music at the time, Brazil beginning to weary of Bossa Nova and move to the more personal expressionism of MPB.

Explore more of Nara Leão’s recordings on Amazon and iTunes. And don’t forget to hop over and visit our World Music Forum, where comments are welcome.


  1. lj says:

    Nara Leao was known as the Muse of Bossa Nova. When she was just a teenager, all the famous Bossa Nova artists would meet at her living room apartment on Copacabana Beach and would socialize and share musical ideas. That must have been quite a scene. She and Elis Regina and Sylvia Telles were the top 3 Brazilian female vocalists of the 1960s.

  2. Moritat says:

    Rudy, great to see your review on this recording, and those A&M connections are quite interesting. I've been a big fan of Nara Leao for many years. As lj said above, she was right in the middle of the whole bossa nova scene from the late 50s on. May I recommend several of her cds? "Garota De Ipanema" with some wonderful support from guitarist Roberto Menescal (on Philips) is outstanding. On this cd is my favorite version of my favorite tune "Chega De Saudade". Another excellent cd is "Dez Anos Depois" All acoustic, this double cd recording (on Polygram) has some very moody haunting arrangements. Nara is one of my favorite female bossa nova singers along with Lisa Ono and of course the girls from Brasil 66.


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