An artist as imaginative and unique as Ana Mazzotti doesn’t come around often. Dubbed a “super-musician” by fellow Brazilian virtuoso Hermeto Pascoal, Mazzotti’s short but rich musical career culminated in just two studio albums: Ninguem Vai Me Segurar (1974), and Ana Mazzotti (1977). Outside circles of Brazilian funk aficionados, these two gems of spellbinding samba-jazz, lysergic funk and trippy bossa have remained relatively obscure. This was partly as a result of Mazzotti’s premature death (she lost her battle with cancer in her mid-thirties), but also due to financial restraints and the prejudice she faced as a female songwriter in a fundamentally sexist society.
Born in Caixas, in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul municipality, Mazzotti began to play the accordion aged five, before moving with prodigious ease onto the piano. By the age of twelve she was already conducting her convent school’s choir, and at twenty-one she led her city’s premier chorus, the Coral Bento Goncalves.
When rock and roll hit South America in the sixties, a young Mazzotti was one of the early adopters, fronting various guitar groups including an all female Beatles cover band, and an eclectic, eight-piece psychedelic group Desenvolvemento. Before moving to Sao Paulo to start her career proper, Mazzotti met drummer, producer and fellow music educator Romido Santos, who she would later marry. Romildo introduced Mazzotti to jazz, and music by the likes of Chick Corea and Hermeto Pascoal who she would later befriend and perform with.
In 1974 Mazzotti recorded her first album Ninguem Vai Me Segurar (1974), enlisting the in-demand arrangement talents of Azymuth’s original keyboard maestro Jose Roberto Bertrami who co-wrote several of the tracks and plays organ, piano and synthesizers on the album. It also features Azymuth’s bassist Alex Malheiros and percussionist Ariovaldo Contestini, with Romildo Santos who produced the album on drums. Recorded in Estudio Haway around the same time Azymuth recorded their debut album there, it’s no wonder the samba jazz-funk pioneer’s distinctive aesthetic is present throughout, and Mazzotti’s sensational compositions are made even more beautiful for it.
Kicking off with the swirling samba-jazz-dance masterpiece ‘Agora Ou Nunca Mais’, the album hosts several groove-heavy Brazilian cult-classics including ‘Roda Mundo’ and ‘Eu Sou Mais Eu’. Deeper moments come in the form of the alluring future soul synth sounds on ‘Bairro Negro’ and ‘Sou’, and Mazzotti’s tender, hallucinatory version of ‘Feel Like Making Love’ (made famous by Roberta Flack) perfectly reflecting the idiosyncratic genius Mazzotti achieved with Bertrami’s visionary arrangements, and Romildo’s impeccable production approach.