Marcos Kostenbader Valle (born September 14, 1943 in Rio de Janeiro) is
a Brazilian singer, songwriter and record producer. His work has found
success across many musical styles both within Brazil and in the rest
of the world, including bossa nova, samba, incidental music for drama,
and fusions of American/European rock and dance music with Brazilian
styles. His brother is Paulo Sergio Valle, with whom he composed many
songs. From the younger Bossa Nova generation, as well as Bebel
Gilberto and others, made a large part of his career abroad.
Valle’s precocious talent was evident from his high school years, which coincided with the height of the Bossa Nova movement in Rio. His classmates included future legends like Edu Lobo and Dori Caymmi, and his composition “Sonho De Maria” was included on the Avanco album by the highly influential Tamba Trio in 1963. With his brother Paulo Sergio Valle as his lyricist, he had already built an impressive portfolio of songs, prompting the Odeon label (a subsidiary of EMI) to sign him to a recording contract. His debut album Samba Demais was released early in 1964. His reputation quickly spread, and his contemporaries on the music scene (including Wilson Simonal, Elis Regina, Nara Leão and many others) lined up to record his songs. A second album, O Compositor e o Cantor, followed in 1965, and featured the debut of what would become his most recognizable song, “Samba De Verão” (known in English as “So Nice (Summer Samba)”), as well as other instant classics as “Deus Brasileiro,” “Gente” and “A Resposta.”
1966 brought Valle’s first trip to the U.S., where he and his then-wife Anamaria teamed up with the also recently-emigrated Sergio Mendes briefly in an embryonic version of what would later become the latter’s hugely successful Brasil ‘66. The threat of being drafted and sent to Vietnam caused him to return quickly to Brazil, however, although the following year saw him return and have a more positive experience which included his debut American release “Braziliance!” on Warner Bros. Records, several appearances on the Andy Williams TV show. Following session work on Verve records releases by compatriots Walter Wanderley and Astrud Gilberto, the label released Valle’s “Samba ‘68” album featuring English-language versions of assorted songs from his earlier Brazilian releases.
Shortly thereafter, feeling homesick, Valle returned to Brazil and entered a new creative phase in his career. 1968’s “Viola Enluarada” album was a more introspective affair, with Valle’s songwriting attaining a more mature and reflective tenor far removed from the frothy and lighthearted feel of the “Samba ‘68” album. The title track became one of Valle’s signature compositions and was a duet with the up-and-coming future icon Milton Nascimento. It also featured a surprising political bent previously absent in Valle’s work, and the album as a whole pointed to a broader range of musical influences that moved him out of the box marked “bossa nova artist.”
This process continued on 1969’s “Mustang Cor De Sangue Ou Corcel Cor De Mel,” another leap forward that incorporated rock, soul and pop styles, all stamped with Valle’s unmistakable melodic style. His work here reflected the sophisticated pop approach of American songwriters such as Jimmy Webb and Burt Bacharach as well as the inescapable influence of the Beatles.
Around this time, Valle was tapped to create theme music for assorted TV programs and “novelas” (soap operas), which over the next few years would become one of the main outlets for his work, along with advertising jingles. 1970’s “Marcos Valle” (often referred to as “the Bed Album” due to its cover shot of Valle in bed) was his most adventurous effort to date as well as his most rock and psychedelic-influenced music up to that point. Backed by Milton Nascimento’s backing band Som Imaginario, Valle explored a more eccentric approach, with a number of futuristic tracks and an extended instrumental suite not unlike the work of U.S. composer/producer David Axelrod. 1971’s “Garra” was a career highpoint, a pop masterwork that summed up his music and still stands as one of the finest pop albums of the era, Brazilian or otherwise. Its effervescent pop/jazz/soul/bossa/film soundtrack musical stylings were matched by lyrics that attempted to reconcile Valle’s hippie leanings with his status as a wealthy young musician who was also a successful businessman because of his successful novela soundtracks and corporate advertising accounts. Tele-novelas he provided some or all of the music for during this period included “O Cafona,” “Minha Doce Namorada,” “Pigmalião 70,” “Os Ossos Do Barão” and, most prominently, “Selva De Pedra.”
1972’s “Vento Sul” album found Valle long-haired and bearded, and backed by the progressive rock band O Terco. His most experimental and left-field effort to date, it was something of a sales flop, although it has accumulated many admirers over the ensuing decades. The following year’s “Previsão Do Tempo” fared better and was an innovative effort made in conjunction with the band who initially formed to back Valle at live shows and named themselves after one of his songs, Azimuth (soon to change the spelling to Azymuth). This album had a notable jazz fusion influence due to Azymuth keyboardist Jose Roberto Bertrami’s expertise on the Fender Rhodes keyboard and assorted synthesizers such as the Mini-Moog and the ARP Soloist. This sound would later prove a decisive influence on the Acid Jazz scene in Europe twenty years later.
In 1974 Valle provided the music for “Vila Sesamo,” Brazil’s version of Sesame Street. He also released his final album on EMI, another self-titled effort. This album differed yet again from its predecessors in pursuing a piano-pop sound reminiscent in turns of Elton John, Todd Rundgren and Bread, and replete with elaborate vocal arrangements. At this point, Valle had grown tired of the strictures of living and working under Brazil’s military dictatorship, then in its darkest and bleakest phase. He therefore decided to return to the U.S., where he spent the rest of the decade. Settling in Los Angeles, he entered into collaborations with artists as diverse as Sarah Vaughan, Chicago and R&B singer and songwriter Leon Ware. Valle and Ware found themselves especially compatible, and wrote many songs together, Valle appearing on several of Ware’s Elektra album releases.