Manu Lafer

Músico e Compositor



Manu Lafer – 2018

Buckskin, the title of the CD, was the childhood nickname of Bucky Pizzarelli, aged 91 when the album was released and one of the biggest legends in jazz, a specialist with the seven-string guitar and owner of a unique style in the instrument pioneered by George Van Eps, as well as in swing jazz with the six-string guitar of Freddy Green and Charlie Christian. Bucky accompanied everyone from Benny Goodman, Julie London and Frank Sinatra to Paul McCartney, as well as playing theatrical presentations for Stephen Sondheim spectacles. On television, he played for Johnny Carson and Skitch Henderson.
As a studio musician, he recorded many of the pop hits in the 1960s and jazz records with guitarists George Barnes, Tal Farlow and Wes Montgomery, among others, before starting on a prolific partnership with saxophonist Zoot Sims.
Produced by bassist Martin Pizzarelli and coproduced by Brazilian guitarist Ricardo Baldacci (who also plays and sings), this album pays homage to and celebrates the music and joy of performing of Bucky, around whom everyone orbits musically, in these songs and forever.
The band for the swing repertoire is based around the drums of Tony Tedesco, a common figure in Woody Allen’s films (as was Bucky himself), the bass guitar of producer Martin and piano of Larry Fuller, with the participation of clarinet and saxophone virtuoso Ken Peplowski. Manu shares the vocals for most of the tracks with Ed Laub, who would often perform as part of a duo with Bucky on the seven-string guitar. Laub has one of the most expressive voices of modern times, reminiscent of Arthur Prysock, in addition to being the author of the seminal CD Soft Guitar, which pays homage to a huge lover of Brazilian music, Kenny Rankin.
Martin and Bucky (who recorded Terra Brasilis, by Tom Jobim) interpret Tom Jobim’s bossa-jazz (Wave, Estrada Branca) with Duduka da Fonseca on the drums, Marc Sganga on nylon string guitar, and the participation of one of Brazil’s biggest female singers, Maucha Adnet, who is part of the groups Céu da Boca and Banda Nova de Tom Jobim, together with Danilo Caymmi, Manu’s long-standing collaborator.
For the instrumental repertoire, in addition to a medley of guitar solos by Bucky (Easy to Remember and This Nearly Was Mine, both by Richard Rodgers), one of Bucky’s pearls, Take Ten, soloed by Ken Peplowski in the style of himself and Zoot Simms and accompanied by the voice of Manu, in addition to his guitar, in Um Abraço nos Pizza, dedicated to the Pizarellis (originally recorded for the CD Mané Mandou, with Lincoln Olivetti providing the brass arrangement). In Canto Casual, the album by John Pizzarelli that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the LP by Sinatra and Tom, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey use lyrics by Manu in songs they wrote, allowing them to pay homage.
In the American repertoire are several numbers from the Bucky-Ed Laub duo (Bennies/Pennies From Heaven, Love Walked In), some lesser-known songs (Caroline, by Randy Newman, Fishing Pole, in a rare version with lyrics, in addition to the famous whistling on Amercian television) and two gems from the ingenious Brian Gari (Yvette and Slow Moving Sam). Note should be made of the work by engineer Bill Moss, who provides a linearity and spontaneity to the repertoire, by the project’s encompassing and ambitious team and musical style, ensuring that a sweet journey is had by listeners’ hearts, minds and souls.

Brian Gari/NYC – Fall 2017

A few years back I received an email from a person I had never heard of before. It was very complimentary of my music (as well as my uncle’s, Robert Clary.) The person lived in Brazil and at first I thought it was a joke. A fan from Brazil? Yes, I did do a Brazilian album several years ago (“Here I Come Brazil”), but I truly didn’t think very many people were paying attention. Well Manu Lafer was. He included a YouTube video link so I watched it. I was amazed by his talent. This guy was for real. It started a friendship that has resulted in several collaborations both live and on CD. The latest is what you are listening to right now.
“Yvette” is a song I wrote 40 years ago. It was always a staple in my act and I did record it on my Brazilian album. However, Manu’s version (with the help of extremely talented instrumentalists like Marc Sganga on guitar) is extremely authentic in its Brazilian jazz style. I have been a recent collector & admirer of the late Chet Baker & the trombone (courtesy of Bruce Bonvissuto) heard on this recording reminds me of Chet. The whole track is a wonderful homage to my hero, Joao Gilberto.
It doesn’t stop there. How wonderful to hear Ed Laub’s great vocals on a wacky song I wrote in the 70s called “Slow Movin’ Sam.” I never dreamed it would come out on an album like this!
The title of this album is called “Buckskin” for a reason…Bucky Pizzarelli is here playing his 7 string guitar on many tracks including his own composition “Take Ten.” I actually was on the bill with Bucky at a small jazz club called Soerabaja on New York’s upper east side when I was all of 20 years old. I think Bucky was leery of this upstart until he heard me play my classical guitar & saw I was quite serious about being a musician & not just a folkie who knew three chords.
One of my favorites on this album that I had never heard before was a parody of “Pennies From Heaven” called “Benny’s from Heaven” with a lyric by the late Eddie Jefferson. Sadly, he was murdered leaving a jazz club when he only 60 years old.
In trading songs with Manu over the last several years, I sent him a song called “Bossa Nova” written & performed by Kathe Green, a writer I met at a Jimmy Webb concert in 1971. We performed together for a while. She even introduced me to her father, the legendary Johnny (“Body & Soul”) Green. What a surprise when I found he & Maucha Adnet did such a beautiful job resurrecting the original by Kathe.
I was also pleased to see Manu chose two Jobim compositions; “Wave” and the more obscure “Estrada Branca,” which was also recorded by Kenny Rankin under its English title “This Happy Madness.”
Manu does do some digging into the obscure…I mean how many people have recorded a vocal version of the theme to The Andy Griffith Show (“Fishing Hole”)? Or a Doris Day 1947 tune by Mel Torme, Robert Wells (Yes, the guys who wrote “The Christmas Song…Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”) entitled “Tacos, Enchiladas and Beans.”
It was also nice to see Randy Newman’s “Caroline” has been included with Larry Fuller honoring Randy’s piano arrangement. The song had been written specifically for Harry Nilsson when he did the Nilsson Sings Newman album in 1970. Nilsson did over 100 takes and 118 overdubs. I hope Manu didn’t have to work that hard!
Let’s not forget Manu’s own composition & guitar work that is so exquisite on “Um Abraço Nos Pizza.” How can he do it all?

1. Take 10 (Bucky Pizzarelli)
Participações: Bucky Pizzarelli, Ken Peplowski


2. Ain't She Sweet (Milton Ager, Jack Yellen)
Participações: Bucky Pizzarelli, Ed Laub

Ain’t she sweet?
See her walking down that street
I ask you very confidentially:
Ain’t she sweet?

Ain’t she nice?
Look her over once or twice
I ask you very confidentially:
Ain’t she nice?

Just cast an eye
In her direction
Oh me! Oh my!
Ain’t that perfection?

Oh I repeat
Don’t you think that’s kind of neat?
I ask you very confidentially:
Ain’t she sweet?

3. Wave (Tom Jobim)
Participações: Bucky Pizzarelli, Maucha Adnet

Vou te contar
Os olhos já não podem ver
Coisas que só o coração pode entender
Fundamental é mesmo o amor
É impossível ser feliz sozinho

O resto é mar
É tudo o que eu não sei contar
São coisas lindas que eu tenho pra te dar
Vem de mansinho a brisa e me diz
É impossível ser feliz sozinho

Da primeira vez era a cidade
Da segunda o cais e a eternidade
Agora eu já sei
Da onda que se ergueu no mar
E das estrelas que esquecemos de contar
O amor se deixa surpreender
Enquanto a noite vem nos envolver

4. Benny's From Heaven (A. Johnston, J. Burke) / Pennies From Heaven (A. Johnston, J. Burke, E. Jefferson)
Participações: Bucky Pizzarelli, Ed Laub

A long time ago a second lieutenant named Spears
Returned to the States after being away three years
His wife said welcome home, dear,
And since you’ve been gone, you see,
We were blessed with a little baby
And a sweet little things is he

She took the baby in her arms
And said: Benny is his name
He said, I’ve been gone away for three years,
Darling, won’t you please explain?
So, I won’t seem so dumb,
Tell me where did little Benny come from?

And every time he asked she’d say:
Benny’s from heaven
His face got red
But she repeatedly said:
Benny’s from heaven

He said: I’ve asked the neighbors
That come around
But no one seems to remember Benny coming down
Well, he said, about a little thing like this:
I ordinarily wouldn’t bother
But, darling, there is one thing I know about children:
I know they gotta have a father
So, when I look at Benny I can plainly see
Benny’s gotta be from heaven
‘Cause he damn sure ain’t from me

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love
You must have showers

So when you hear it thunder
Don’t run under a tree
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me (bis)

5. Fishing Hole (Earle Hagen, Herbert Spencer, Everett Sloane)
Participações: Bucky Pizzarelli, Ken Peplowski

Well now, take down your fishing pole
And meet me at the fishing hole
We may not get a bite all day
But don’t you rush away

What a great place to rest your bones
And mighty fine for skipping stones
You’ll feel as a lemonade
A-setting in the shade

Whether it’s hot
Whether it’s cool,
Oh, what a spot
For whistling like a fool

What a fine day to take a stroll
And wind up at the fishing hole
I can’t think of a better way
To pass the time of day

We’ll have no need to call the roll
When we get to the fishing hole
There’ll be you, me, and old dog Trey
To doodle time away

If we don’t hook a perch or bass,
We’ll cool our toes in dewy grass
Or else pull up a weed to chaw
And maybe sit and jaw

Hanging around
Taking our ease
Watching that hound
A scratching at his fleas

I won’t take down your fishing hole
And meet me at the fishing hole
I can’t think of a better way
To pass the time of day

6. Um Abraço Nos Pizza (Manu Lafer)

7. Tacos, Enchiladas And Beans (Mel Torne, Robert Wells)
Featuring: Ed Laub

From the snow-capped mountains to the coral shores
You’re the only one my heart adores
You’ve only got three competitors
Tacos, enchiladas and beans

From the Mississippi to the Amazon
There’s not much we don’t agree upon
Wish we could get together on
Tacos, enchiladas and beans

Love them,
Dozens of them,
I consume them by the score
And when I’m through
What do I do?
I stamp
And holler for more

You can have the fourth position on my list
Must admit your kisses would be missed
But how in the world could I exist
Without tacos, enchiladas and beans

8. Love Walked In (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
Featuring: Bucky Pizzerelli, Ed Laub

Nothing seemed to matter anymore
Didn’t care what I was headed for
Time was standing still
Nothing counted till
There came a knock-knock-knocking at your door

Love walked right in and drove the shadows away
Love walked right in and brought my sunniest day
One magic moment and my heart seemed to know
That love said hello though not a word was spoken

One look, and I’d forgot the gloom of the past
One look, and I had found my future at last
On look, and I had found a world completely new
When love walked in with you

9. Estrada Branca / This Happy Madness (Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, versão em inglês: Gene Lees)
Featuring: Bucky Pizzarelli, Ed Laub

Estrada branca, lua branca
Noite alta, tua falta
Caminhando, caminhando
Caminhando ao lado meu
Uma saudade
Uma vontade tão doída
De uma vida
Vida que morreu

Estrada, passarada, noite clara
Meu caminho é tão sozinho
Tão sozinho a percorrer
Que mesmo andando para frente
Olhando a lua tristemente
Quanto mais ando
Mais estou perto de você

Se em vez de noite fosse dia
E o sol brilhasse e a poesia
E em vez de eu ver
Só minha sombra nessa estrada
Eu visse ao longo dessa estrada,
Uma outra sombra a me seguir

Mas a verdade é
Que a cidade ficou longe
Ficou longe na cidade
Se deixou meu bem querer
Eu vou seguindo tão sozinho
Vou caminhando meu caminho
Vou caminhando com vontade de morrer

What should I call
This happy madness that I feel inside of me?
Some kind of wild October gladness
That I though I’d never see

What has become of all my sadness,
All my endless lonely sighs?
Where are my sorrows now?

What happened to the frown
And is that self-contented clown
Standing there grinning in the mirror really me?

I’d like to run through Central Park
Carve your initials in the bark
Of every tree I pass
For everyone to see

I feel that I’ve gone back to childhood
And I’m skipping through the wild wood
So excited that I don’t know what to do

What do I care if I’m a juvenile?
I smile my secret little smile
Because I know the change in me is you

What should I call this happy madness
All this unexpected joy
That turned the world
Into a baby’s bouncing toy?

The Gods are laughing far above
One of them gave a little shove
And I feel gaily
Gladly madly into love

10. Easy To Remember / This Nearly Was Mine (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II)
Featuring: Bucky Pizzarelli

Medley instrumental

11. Yvette (Brian Gari)

I’ll just disguise you in this song
Cause if anyone found out
You’d know they’d take it wrong
Oh, Yvette

You and I know who you are
But I won’t say your name
You’ll just hear my guitar
Oh, Yvette

Seems to me just fits you right
But if you should forget
I carved it out in white
Near your door

Where it hopes to stay for years
And no one else will know
Just where that name appears
Oh, Yvette, Yvette

Why did we wait until
My minutes were my last
And time could not stand still

There will be other times for starts
There won’t be any need
To guess what’s in our hearts
Oh, Yvette

Though I’ve travelled very far
I’ll leave you with this name
And this tune from my guitar
Oh, Yvette

12. Slow Moving Sam (Briam Gari)
Featuring: Ed Laub

He was sitting at the bar of a fancy motel
Down & out & feeling low
When this girl came his way
He had nothing to say
And most of all had nothing to show

But he ordered her a drink & the same for himself
And he told her all about his career
Well she was bored to distraction
She just wanted some action
And she wasn’t gettin high from the beer

They call him:
Slow movin Sam
Slow movin Sam
Well he just has to be sure
That the lady ain’t pure
And he always calls a woman ma’m

Now she finally got him up to her room off the stairs
On the chance that he would do his best
Well she removed all her clothes
Every stitch to her toes
But he stood there fully dressed

‘Cause he is:
Slow movin Sam
Slow movin Sam
Well he just has to be sure
That the lady ain’t pure
And he always calls a woman ma’m

Now it got to the point where it wasn’t a joke
So she said we better call it a night
And as Sam headed home
He ran into Jerome
And he asked him why things never go right?

He said you’re:
Slow movin Sam
Slow movin Sam
Well you just have to be sure
That the lady ain’t pure
And he always calls a woman ma’m

So he tried once again at the fancy motel
And remembered all of Jerry’s advice
He found a girl to disrobe with the patience of job
Now they’re at the church with plenty of rice

She calls him:
Slow movin Sam
Slow movin Sam
So she’s pleased to announce
That’s he’s slow where it counts
And he always calls a woman ma’m

13. My Cutey Is Due At Two To Two Today (Albert Von Tilzer, Leo Robin)
Featuring: Ricardo Baldacci

My cutey is due at two to two
She’s coming through on a big choo choo
She’s been away for a month
But I haven’t cheated once

Stayed home nights, didn’t date
I wasn’t taking any chance
Didn’t flirt (and you know that hurt)
But I just couldn’t do my cutey dirt

Days were blue and nights were black
But I just knew she’d come back
‘Cause I love her, she loves me, and say

Don’t think there is no Santa Claus
I know darn well there is because
My cutey is due at two to two today
My cutey is due at two to two
She’s coming through on a DC2
I met each boeing jet
But she hasn’t shown up yet

Stayed home nights, at the pad,
It was awfully lonesome, dad,
What I mean, a nothing scene
Just me and a TV screen

The price was right most every night
And how those westerns stars can fight!
But now she’s coming, everything’s OK

My TV set is staying dark
And if you don’t dig the last remark
My cutey is due at two to two today

I’m up to meet that big choo-choo
And I’m kind of late for that DC2
My cutey is due at two to two today

14. Bossa Nova (Kathe Green)
Featuring: Maucha Adnet


15. Caroline (Randy Newmann)

Caroline, please be mine
You’re my kind of girl

And when springtime daylight surrounds you
There’s no one around you but me

Where to find

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