April In Portugal (1959)
Bert Kaempfert And His Orchestra

  1. Sempre Que Lisboa Canta (José Carlos Gonçalves Rocha/Aníbal Nazaré)
  2. Fora De Portas (Maria da Conceição Borges/Manuel Azambuja)
  3. Tudo Isto É Fado (Fernando de Carvalho/Aníbal Nazaré)
  4. Fado De Vila Franca (João Dias Nobre)
  5. Por Deus Te Peco (Alberto Dos Anjos Alves Coelho)
  6. April In Portugal (Raúl Ferrãro/Jose Maria Galhardo)
  7. Petticoats Of Portugal (Michael A. Durso/Murl Kahn/Mel Mitchell)
  8. Rosa Engeitada (Raúl Ferrãro/Jose Maria Galhardo)
  9. Fado De Santarém (Eduardo Loueiro/Angelo Gespar)
  10. Les lavandières du Portugal (André Popp/Roger Antoine Lucchesi)
  11. Nem Ás Paredes Confesso (Arthur Joaquim de Almeida Ribeiro/Francisco Ferrero Trindade/Max)
  12. Fadistas Do Bairro Alto (João Ferreira Marques Aleixo/Frederico Brito)

1 – 12 issued in the US as Decca DL 8881 (mono) and Decca DL 78881 (stereo)
1 – 12 issued in Europe as PORTUGAL – FADO, WINE AND SUNSHINE, Polydor LPHM 46 097 (mono) and Polydor SLPHM 237 506 (stereo)

To the encyclopedist, Portugal is a republic in the south-west part of the Iberian Peninsula. Songwriters, on the other hand, like to expound on the traffic-stopping appeal of The Petticoats of Portugal. They find a special appeal in Les lavandières du Portugal (The Washerwomen of Portugal), and the elegant Fadistas (men-about-town).  In essence, this sparkling collection magnificently captures the flavor of April in Portugal.

At a time when bandleaders jetted listeners off to Hawaii (Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman) or France (Franck Pourcel), Africa or the Caribbean (Les Baxter) and South of the Border (George Shearing), the German bandleader Bert Kaempfert headed toward the picturesque climes of Southern Europe for an exotic playlist of Portuguese music.

Bert Kaempfert’s American debut appeared in late 1958 to surprisingly little fanfare and absolutely no label support. But it’s a superb introduction to the dazzling and engaging wonderland of Bert Kaempfert.

Much of the music heard here is in the Portuguese fado tradition, popularized at the time by singer and actress Amália Rodrigues (1920-99). The program is even engagingly jazzed up by our tour guide with festive crossover tunes that add a swinging zest and verve to the proceedings. Unfortunately, the leader contributes none of his signature originals, although songs like “Fora de Portas” and “Por deus te peco” could have easily come from Kaempfert’s hand.

The orchestra here has a very different flavor than Kaempfert’s later and better-known recordings. The guitars, appropriately enough, are more prominent while the forwarding of clarinets, trombone (“Les lavandières du Portugal”) and harmonica (notably on the waltzes “Tudo isto é fado” and “Nem às paredes confesso”) contribute to the album’s appeal. Most, however, will notice the profusion of flutes and strings leading the charge, while the trumpet takes much more of a back seat.

Exotic though it is, novelty plays no part in this music.

Throughout, Kaempfert honors these themes, while beautifully supercharging the program with his love of big-band jazz. Highlights include the swing of the album’s shimmering title track – originally known as the fado “Coimbra” (one of Rodrigues’ hits), an American hit for Les Baxter and also covered by Louis Armstrong – “Petticoats of Portugal” (with a lovely, though uncredited, trumpet solo),” “Les lavandières du Portugal” and “Fadistas do barrio alto.”