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The Emerald Tablet

  Jorge Ben Jor, 1974


Production direction: Paulinho Tapajós

T ECHNICAL recording: Luigi Hoffer and John Moreira

Arrangements: Osmar Milito, Darcy de Paulo and Hugo Bellard

Cover: Aldo Luiz


A record thrice grand

By: Ricardo P Nunes

    In 1974, although he was just over 30 years old, Jorge Ben Jor was already a musician, let us say, quite experienced. That year, however, the singer seemed to be going through his Saturn return, and it was under that influx that he communicated to the reticent label his long-cultivated intention to release a “non-commercial” record.  It was the last obstacle to the enactment of his eleventh studio album, the mystic A Tábua de Esmeralda. 

  Few artists with such a vast work as Jorge Ben Jor had so early the privileged gift of encapsulating the potential of their state of mind in a single work so well. Tarik de Souza once said of Jorge Ben Jor that he was able to musicalize a telephone book, a quality that many people turn up their noses at when he exaggerates and speaks more than he sings, but which in A Tábua de Esmeralda finds its expression more prolific and enchanting: among so many other splendid things contained in its twelve tracks, transforming into sophisticated melody entire passages of the text attributed to the ancient and perhaps legendary mystic Hermes Trismegistus; to praise the return of medieval alchemists and specific details in the lives of some of them, such as the colored scarf worn by Paracelso in O Homem da Gravata Florida and to Nicolas Flamel's rich girlfriend in O Namorado da Viúva. 


Jorge Ben Jor, the alchemical aura of music

    It is speculated that Jorge Ben Jor became aware of these esoteric matters in the Catholic seminary he attended for two years in his youth, and perhaps that is why he took the opportunity to make his syncretic gratitude a  half-gospel track in honor of his “brother Jesus Christ”, perhaps an inlaid memory from his childhood days when he sang in the choir of the church in Rio Comprido. In Errare Humanun Est, Ben jor gives the human fallibility of the ancient Latin proverb the meaning of wandering, wandering the world and space and its history, when he then makes reference to the astronaut gods of Erich von Däniken. In addition to his already renowned samba rock, the singer also mixes his style with a kind of blues, in the song Cinco Minutos. In tracks like Magnólia and Minha Teimosia uma Arma pra Te Conquistar, the singer continues his old-fashioned gentlemanly gallantry when he talks about his muses, as well as in Menina Mulher da Pele Preta, a song that, by the way, starts with the inspired and epic Zombie track, your reverence for the heroes of your race.


The string percussion that brought samba rock to life

   There is nothing more evident on this record than the characteristic sound of the intense chords and beats of his unmistakable guitar. In fact, this would be the last job that Ben Jor would conform to the acoustic sound of this instrument, according to him “because I could never hear it during concerts”. From there I would adopt  the amplified guitar and the guitar, which would perhaps send him into the more pop phase that would follow later. In addition to this trait already recognized in the composer's music, the album also excels in the beautiful vocal choirs that permeate several of his songs.  

   It can be said, I believe, that with this record Jorge Ben Jor demystifies the very esoterism he wanted to sing. By reinterpreting it in somewhat simple lyrics but in superb, festive arrangements and rhythms, the very Brazilian artist with an Ethiopian mother did something that aroused little commercial interest, as predicted by André Midani, the producer who endorsed the artist's decision, but who planted it in a deep, undying way, in the ground of our music; and speaking of longevity, one of the essences to which alchemists aspired through the so-called elixir of long life, as well as the ability to transmute anything into gold, in its metaphorical sense, was what Jorge Ben Jor managed to give to this memorable record of his . 

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