Música Popular Brasileira or MPB, a popular song form that followed bossa nova in the 1960s, often paired singers with poets and lyricists. Vinicius de Moraes penned lyrics for Antônio Carlos Jobim and Baden Powell. Vítor Martins for Ivan Lins. Aldir Blanc for João Bosco and others. We’ve seen similar musical partnerships here in the U.S. between George and Ira Gershwin, Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, Rogers and Hammerstein, Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern and Hammerstein, and numerous others.
Milton Nascimento burst upon the scene as a guest singer on Wayne Shorter’s 1974 Columbia album, Native Dancer. I’d never heard a singer quite like him. He grew up loving Nat Cole and Peruvian songstress Yma Sumac, and like hers, his voice was capable of soaring to lofty and beautiful heights. His A&M Records debut album, Courage, further established him on the international music scene. One of those songs was “Bridges” (1967), which was set to lyrics by a poet named Fernando Brant (pronounced “Branch”). Whether in the original Portuguese, as penned by Brant, or as translated into English by Gene Lees, it is a perennially beautiful song.
Fernando Brant (b.1946–2015), like Milton, was born in the state of Minas Gerais, and was part of the Brazilian Clube da Esquina (Corner Club) artists’ club that propelled the Mineiro musicians to stardom, people like Lô Borges, Toninho Horta, and others. The Clube da Esquina album from 1972 is still an amazing musical document and a piece of Brazilian music history. Brant also wrote lyrics for such Nascimento classics as “Canção da América” (Song of America), “Para Lennon e McCartney” (for Lennon & McCartney), “Encontros e Despedidas” (Meetings & Farewells), and “Sentinela” (Sentinel).
Sadly, Fernando Brant passed away earlier this month of a failed liver transplant after having been diagnosed with with liver cancer. He was the man behind some of Milton Nascimento’s most brilliant and timeless songs.
Milton Nascimento’s “Travessia, lyrics penned by Fernando Brant.