Musician Paulo Rafael died this Monday (23), aged 66, from complications of liver cancer. He was hospitalized at Hospital Samaritano, in Rio de Janeiro, and had his daughter’s death announced on social networks.
“It is with deep sadness that I communicate that my father, our friend, legendary guitarist and love of my mother’s life, took flight”, says the publication.
Known for being part of Alceu Valença’s band from Pernambuco, Paulo Rafael started out as a guitarist, as a teenager, in a group called Phetus, alongside cartoonist Lailson de Holanda Cavalcanti and flutist Zé da Flauta. Together they made dark music with influences from English progressive rock. They never recorded an album, but participated in the Udigrudi scene in Recife, which revealed names like Zé Ramalho and Lula Côrtes.
The guitarist then joined Ave Sangria, the seminal psychedelic rock band, with which he recorded the group’s self-titled 1974 album. Paulo Rafael shared the guitars with the legendary Ivson Wanderley, Ivinho.
But even so, his contribution to the group’s music was not limited. It was he, for example, who came up with the idea of using a Moog synthesizer in the introduction of “Dois Navegantes”, one of the most lysergic moments of Ave Sangria — and of Brazilian music at that time.
When the band’s album became successful, it was removed from stores by censorship. The reason was the track “Seu Waldir”, which narrated a passion for a tavern owner, sung by vocalist Marco Polo and interpreted by the military dictatorship as a gay song. From there, Paulo Rafael went to Alceu Valença’s band.
He started playing with Valença in 1974, at Festival Abertura, promoted by TV Globo. They presented “Vou Danado pra Catende”, with a band that brought together a large part of the Udigrudi scene, including several members of Ave Sangria, Zé da Flauta, Zé Ramalho and Lula Côrtes. Ivinho played guitar, while Paulo Rafael played bass in that presentation.
Since the 1970s, the guitarist has never stopped playing with Valença. The influence of his guitar —and of psychedelic rock— can be noticed especially in the beginning of the singer’s career, with the albums “Molhado de Suor”, from 1974, “Vivo!”, from 1976, and “Espelho Cristalino”, from 1977 Alceu Valença’s so-called psychedelic trilogy has a lot of Paulo Rafael’s finger.
This phase was recently revisited on the live album “Vivo! Revivo!”, from 2016. After the psychedelic trilogy, Valença went to live in Paris for a period with Paulo Rafael, when they composed the album “Saudade de Pernambuco”. Although made in 1979, the album was only released a few years ago, in the wake of “Vivo! I revive”.
The meeting with Valença also marked an evolution in Paulo Rafael’s guitar, who did not deny rock influences, but incorporated them into xote, frevo, maracatu and other northeastern rhythms. It’s true that Ave Sangria was already trying to mix Rolling Stones with baião, but it was with Valença that the guitarist made history in Brazilian music.
“Anunciação”, perhaps Valença’s best-known song, is guided by Paulo Rafael’s strident guitar. He also played guitar and viola on several of the singer’s albums and classic songs — such as the restless intro of the track “Agalopado”.
In addition to partnerships with people like Elba Ramalho, Geraldo Azevedo and Zé Ramalho, Paulo Rafael recorded some solo albums and participated in projects such as “Primavera nos Dentes”, reinterpretations of Secos & Molhados, led by Charles Gavin, former drummer of the Titãs . For example, the guitarist arranges the track “Vaca Profana”, by Caetano Veloso, recorded by Gal Costa.
In the last decade, Paulo Rafael played a key role in the meeting of Ave Sangria, which returned to performing in Brazil and even released the 2019 album “Vendavais”, in which the band re-recorded songs composed in the 1970s. the only remaining members are Marco Polo, vocalist and composer, and Almir Oliveira, who played bass and was also a composer.
Even with cancer, Paulo Rafael was still active and a kind of faithful squire to Alceu Valença. He played at the singer’s and Grande Encontro’s lives during the pandemic. He was also scheduled to be Valença’s only partner on the singer’s third pandemic album, after “Sem Pensar no Amanhã” and “Saudade” —recorded only by Valença, in voice and guitar format—, released this year.
Alceu Valença has not yet publicly commented on his friend’s death. The musician leaves his wife, a daughter and a granddaughter. The wake will take place this Tuesday morning (24), at the Penitence Cemetery, in Rio de Janeiro.