An album canceled by Gil and considered lost is found almost 40 years later

The album recorded in the United States might have been called Jump for Joy and was on two of the tapes digitized by Google Arts & Culture

By Instituto Gilberto Gil

Text: Chris Fuscaldo and Ricardo Schott, journalists and music researchers

Selo "Casa do Trem" (2010/2013) by José CaldasMuseu Histórico Nacional

Brazil in 1982

In 1982, in the midst of the World Cup and political change, Brazil was on an emotional roller-coaster. In January, the setting up of the Afro-Brazilian Museum (Museu Afro-Brasileiro) in the Bahian capital, Salvador, was a reason to celebrate but the death of the singer Elis Regina soon afterward led to an outpouring of grief among Brazilians.

In February, Brazil's Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) granted the Workers' Party's (PT) definitive registration and in March, candidates running to be governor of the State of São Paulo held the first televised debate since the lifting of the Falcão law restricting free debate.

GIlberto Gil na Assembleia Legislativa (1981)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil learned about all this while he was in the United States. Having wrapped up his tour for his Luar (A Gente Precisa Ver o Luar) album, which he had released the previous year, Gil and his wife, Flora Gil, set off for the land of Uncle Sam.

Flora Gil em Nova York, em intervalo da gravação de álbum cancelado por Gilberto Gil em 1982 (1982-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The singer would spend two months away from Brazil as he worked on an album in New York: that same album which, for almost 40 years, would be considered lost. When Google Arts & Culture was cataloging the collection, the North American album finally came to light.

Gilberto Gil na casa de campo da família em Araras, durante o período de quarentena pelo coronavírus (2020-04-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

You Need Love for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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 "My interest had been piqued and I was eager to go back to that album and, perhaps, make my peace with it and release it. But then the album disappeared. But now it's turned up again!" said Gil, expressing his surprise on hearing the news that the album he canceled had been rescued.

Gilberto Gil, André Midani e Chacrinha durante o projeto 20 Anos Luz (1985)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The story of the recording

The suggestion to expand Gil's career beyond Brazil's borders first came from André Midani, the then CEO at Warner Music. He came up with the idea of a new album for the North American market in the wake of the 1979 release, Nightingale, which Gil had recorded with Sérgio Mendes.

Ralph MacDonald Flora Gil durante a gravação de álbum cancelado por Gilberto Gil em 1982 (1982-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The subsidiary Elektra Records was commissioned and the album was produced by Ralph MacDonald—a Trinbagonian-American percussionist and specialist in Black music—and Richard Alderson, a recording engineer. 

Flora Gil acompanha a gravação de álbum cancelado por Gilberto Gil em 1982 (1982-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Ralph brought Richard Tee (keyboards), Grover Washington (saxophone), Steve Gadd (drums), and Marcus Miller (bass) into the studio, as well as William Eaton to co-write the songs. With Eaton's assistance, Ralph helped Gil to put the finishing touches to the songs and versions that would feature on the album.

Gilberto Gil em show da turnê Um Banda Um (1982)Instituto Gilberto Gil

When The Wind Blows for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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One of those songs was Deixar Você, which would feature, in Portuguese, on the playlist for Gil's very next project following his US adventure, namely his Um Banda Um album. The track, with its English lyrics and title When The Wind Blows, can now be heard for the first time. 

Flora Gil posa com músico durante a gravação de álbum cancelado por Gilberto Gil em 1982 (1982-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

During the weeks that they spent in the Rosebud Recording Studio on Broadway, the musicians recorded nine songs and Gil was anxious the whole time about doing a good job.

English interview of Gilberto Gil for US radio (1989-06-24)Instituto Gilberto Gil

“I was committed to putting some real effort into it all. I was so careful with the pronunciation and the way of singing in English. It's a pop album, with a sound that was very true to its time, back when tropical pop music was at its peak."

Flora Gil posa com músico durante a gravação de álbum cancelado por Gilberto Gil em 1982 (1982-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

"Ralph was really happy to make the connection between Brazilian pop and North American pop, adding that Caribbean influence, some Jamaican traces, and a bit of Puerto Rican. Seen in that light, it's a nice album," Gil remarked.

Flora Gil posa com Ralph MacDonald durante a gravação de álbum cancelado por Gilberto Gil em 1982 (1982-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Ralph MacDonald was well known for adding "colorful sounds and catchy rhythms to hundreds of recording sessions," according to his biography on Allmusic.com. His father's band played calypso in Harlem and Ralph himself did a ten-year stint with Harry Belafonte's band.

That certainly had an influence on his playing style. After his time with Belafonte, Ralph devoted himself to the studio, playing soul, disco funk, and R&B until his death in 2011 at the age of 67. The song Calypso Breakdown, which is on the LP with the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever, is one of his compositions.

Ralph MacDonald produz Gilberto Gil em Nova York, durante a gravação de álbum que foi cancelado pelo brasileiro em 1982 (1982-05)Instituto Gilberto Gil

With Gil, he wrote several tracks but, over time, Gil forgot their names and, if formal recordings ever existed, they too were lost. Gil's recollections:

"By 1978, people were starting to expand their horizons beyond Brazil and were doing concerts in Europe. It was a natural desire to spread their work a bit more to other parts of the world. Hence the idea for this album. Ralph was a much-celebrated producer at the time. He came to Brazil for a chat and then I went over there to do the album. He was suggesting things he liked for the playlist, doing versions under my guidance—and with his partner, that made six hands doing the work—and it ended up with just one song in Portuguese." 

Capa do álbum Quanta, de Gilberto Gil (1997)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Estrela (Star) for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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Gil talks about Estrela, a song that he would not  record again until he released his album Quanta in 1997. It is the only song in Portuguese on the North American album, with the English translation Star appearing in brackets after the Portuguese title on the label.

Flack, Roberta (1986)LIFE Photo Collection

Jump For Joy feat. Roberta Flack for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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One of the album's English highlights is Jump for Joy, which Gil recorded as a duet with Roberta Flack. Ralph was producing Flack at that time and she also provided backing vocals for other tracks on the album, including Estrela, where she can be heard along with other singers trying to sing in Portuguese.

Flack, Roberta (1986)LIFE Photo Collection

Roberta Flack had started her career in 1969 but success only came with her hit singles First Time Ever I Saw Your Face in 1972 and Killing Me Softly With His Song in 1973.

Documents from Gilberto Gil's Private ArchiveInstituto Gilberto Gil

A possible title

In 2002, during an interview with the researcher Marcelo Fróes—who was, at the time, working on the box set Palco, which was to be released with 30 albums from Gil's career—Gil remarked that Jump for Joy might have been the title of the album that neither of them could locate.

Fróes included this rather vague comment in the insert he wrote for the Um Banda Um CD, which was re-released as part of the box set.

Nomes nas faixas no rótulo da fita K7 na qual foi encontrado o álbum gravado em Nova York em 1982 e cancelado por Gilberto Gil (Março de 2021)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The cassette tape containing the already-mixed album, with all the tracks in order, was sent to Gil in the 1980s. With no title and only "Produced by Ralph MacDonald" on the label, the tape ended up in the archives at the Gege Produções production company, and we were led to believe that Gil never got round to naming the album.

Fitas de rolo resgatadas no acervo de Gilberto Gil e digitalizadas para a coleção do artista no Google Arts & Culture (Setembro de 2018)Instituto Gilberto Gil

What happened?

Upon returning to Brazil from the United States, Gil canceled the album release and never heard anything more about the master tape. "When we were doing the box set, people went looking for Ralph but no-one knew where he was. And the master tape was not in the Elektra archives," Gil recalled in 2021. 

Gilberto Gil com Laura Zandonadi e Chris Fuscaldo durante pesquisa de acervo para o Google Arts & Culture (2019-11-29)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The rescue

In mid-2018, while planning the task of organizing the Gilberto Gil collection to set up this museum, we looked through rooms at both the current and former headquarters of Gege Produções. 

Fitas U-matic resgatadas no acervo de Gilberto Gil e digitalizadas para a coleção do artista no Google Arts & Culture (Setembro de 2018)Instituto Gilberto Gil

In one of them, we found close to a thousand items, which, while obsolete, were still full of history. They included reel-to-reel tapes, DATs, VHS tapes, cassettes, mini DVs, and various other formats, just gathering dust and awaiting disposal. 

Gilberto Gil em visita ao Google (2007-10-19)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Following digitization and some basic editing, mostly of audio tapes, this thousand-strong collection became over three thousand audio and video files. Many were already in the public domain but they had certainly never before been consolidated in one place. 

Gilberto Gil em entrevista a Ricardo Schott, Ceci Alves e Chris Fuscaldo durante a pandemia (2020-04-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Among these rarities, the journalist and researcher Ricardo Schott identified the canceled album on one of the digitized tapes. 

Gilberto Gil em entrevista a Ricardo Schott, Ceci Alves e Chris Fuscaldo durante a pandemia (2020-04-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

In the photo, Schott interviews Gil in 2020. Also present are some of the Arts & Culture team who worked on identifying and cataloging the items in Gil's collection.

Nomes nas faixas no rótulo da fita DAT na qual foi encontrado o álbum gravado em Nova York em 1982 e cancelado por Gilberto Gil (Março de 2021)Instituto Gilberto Gil

As well as the cassette tape, we also found the album on the DAT tape which you can see in this picture. The label on the tape was handwritten, albeit not by Gil. The audio you can hear here was taken from the DAT as, once digitized, it offered better sound quality. 

Vinícius CantuáriaInstituto Gilberto Gil

Moon And Star Girl for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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One of the songs we identified was Moon and Star Girl, an English cover of the Vinícius Cantuária hit Lua e Estrela. The song was also a hit for Caetano Veloso during Ralph's visit to Brazil. The producer Liminha recalled that Caetano and Cantuária both visited the studio in New York.

Gilberto Gil em entrevista coletiva virtual para Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo e Ricardo Schott, durante o período de quarentena pelo coronavírus (2020-04-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Why the cancellation?

"I remember thinking that there were too many of some things on that album but not enough of others. Perhaps his very pragmatic way of producing had bugged me. I felt that the Brazilianness was lacking. I missed having Brazilian musicians, despite those involved being excellent …

Gilberto Gil em entrevista coletiva virtual para Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo e Ricardo Schott, durante o período de quarentena pelo coronavírus (2020-04-28)Instituto Gilberto Gil

… They were all experienced in the studio, in recording with artists from different music genres. Perhaps that was why I felt that there needed to be a bit more personalization when we were making the album," Gil told the writer and journalist Chris Fuscaldo in an interview in 2021.

Nomes nas faixas no rótulo da fita K7 na qual foi encontrado o álbum gravado em Nova York em 1982 e cancelado por Gilberto Gil (Março de 2021)Instituto Gilberto Gil

The playlist

The songs, in the order in which they appear on the tape, are You Need Love, Jump For Joy, Estrela (Star), Fill Up The Night With Music, Come On Back Tomorrow, Somebody Like Me, Moon and Star Girl, When The Wind Blows (the English version of Deixar Você), and Take a Holiday.

Fitas DAT resgatadas no acervo de Gilberto Gil e digitalizadas para a coleção do artista no Google Arts & Culture (Setembro de 2018)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Fill Up The Night With Music for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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Fill Up The Night (whose lyrics begin with "Tonight we're all together ...") is a typical North American pop ballad. Or, in the words of Liminha—who produced several of Gil's albums—a "sugary feast" from that time, "probably written, or influenced, by William Eaton."

Fitas K7 resgatadas no acervo de Gilberto Gil e digitalizadas para a coleção do artista no Google Arts & Culture (Setembro de 2018)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Come Back Tomorrow for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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Come On Back Tomorrow (which begins with "When I first met you ...") mixes Nigerian ijesha and pop and it was probably co-written by Gil, Ralph, and William.

Fita DAT na qual foi encontrado o álbum gravado em Nova York em 1982 e cancelado por Gilberto Gil (Março de 2021)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Somebody Like Me for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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The sixth song, Somebody Like Me, is an ijesha track and so it sounds as if Gil composed the tune. 

Gilberto Gil em show da turnê Um Banda Um no Parque do Ibirapuera (1982)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Take A Holiday for the album recorded in 1982 in New York and canceled by Gilberto Gil
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On the last track, Take a Holiday- which begins with the line "If lately you've been feeling like nothing is ever going right -" Gil's guitar playing can be clearly heard, as can the significant traces of Caribbean influence. 

Fita K7 na qual foi encontrado o álbum gravado em Nova York em 1982 e cancelado por Gilberto Gil (Março de 2021)Instituto Gilberto Gil

Finally, all the rediscovered songs reveal a phase in Gil's career that the singer himself feared had been lost in the mists of time. In other words, this was the one small piece needed to complete Gilberto Gil's work.

Credits: Story

Exhibit credits

Research and text: Chris Fuscaldo and Ricardo Schott
Assembly: Chris Fuscaldo


General credits

Editing and curation: Chris Fuscaldo / Garota FM 
Musical content research: Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, Laura Zandonadi and Ricardo Schott 
Ministry of Culture content research: Carla Peixoto, Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo 
Captions: Anna Durão, Carla Peixoto, Ceci Alves, Chris Fuscaldo, Daniel Malafaia, Fernanda Pimentel, Gilberto Porcidonio, Kamille Viola, Laura Zandonadi, Lucas Vieira, Luciana Azevedo, Patrícia Sá Rêgo, Pedro Felitte, Ricardo Schott, Roni Filgueiras e Tito Guedes 
Data editing: Isabela Marinho and Marco Konopacki
Gege Produções Review: Cristina Doria

Acknowledgements Gege Produções, Gilberto Gil, Flora Gil, Gilda Mattoso, Fafá Giordano, Maria Gil, Meny Lopes, Nelci Frangipani, Cristina Doria, Daniella Bartolini e todos os autores das fotos e personagens da história
All media: Instituto Gilberto Gil

*Every effort has been made to credit the images, audios and videos and correctly tell the story about the episodes narrated in the exhibitions. If you find errors and/or omissions, please contact us by email atendimentogil@gege.com.br

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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