Review: Ana Mazzotti – Agora Ou Nunca Mais
Words by Andrew Sinclair
The rediscovery of a long lost musical great can be a poignant affair. This is especially true in our current time, when accessible travel has taken digging culture to the far-out corners of the world, enabling DJs and label owners to dust off many a lost classic for global musical audiences to discover as if they were new. But behind every joyful dancefloor moment featuring a rare gem there can be stories of broken dreams and tragedy, stemming from the socio-economic barriers too great for many musicians to overcome on their path to success.
One such example is Brazilian singer-songwriter Ana Mozzotti. Born in 1950, Ana quickly became a musical prodigy in her home town of Caixas. By age five she was playing the accordion, before swiftly mastering the piano too. At twelve years old she was conducting her convent school’s choir, and by twenty-one she led her city’s premier chorus, the Coral Bento Goncalves.
By 1974 Ana had moved to São Paulo with future husband Romido Santos, who enlisted members of Azymuth to contribute to her debut album ‘Ninguem Vai Me Segurar’. Recorded at Estudio Haway as Azymuth simultaneously recorded their own debut, the album contains the same lush, immaculate blend of samba and jazz-funk that the legendary trio would popularize, but with a musical dexterity and depth that only a musical force like Mazzotti could deliver.
From the dizzying syncopated euphoria of ‘Agora Ou Nunca Mais‘ to the blissful melancholy of her take on Roberta Flack’s ‘Feel Like Makin Love’, ‘Ninguem Vai Me Segurar’ is the unashamed benchmark for the deep, soulful music of Brasil.
Three years later, Ana would re-record most of these songs with additional arrangements for her second, self-titled album. Unfortunately, a sexist, male-dominated culture blocked her from finding musical success at home, and both albums failed commercially. Ten years later, Ana tragically lost her battle with cancer at just 37 years old.
Both albums have just been reissued by Far Out Recordings, bringing a global audience she was not afforded during her lifetime. It is bittersweet to think of how things could be if Mozzotti was still with us in this new age of musical rediscovery. Perhaps she would have jumped out of obscurity and toured the world, like fellow Brazilian artist Maria Rita. Maybe we would have a new album with Azymuth, who are enjoying their own musical renaissance.
Who knows. But we can be sure that Ana Mozzotti would be grateful that her music is still with us, more than 40 years after it was recorded. An achievement she rightfully deserves.