Universo ao Meu Redor (The Universe Around Me), co-produced by Monte and Mario Caldato, is Marisa Monte’s first-ever recording to focus entirely on the great Brazilian tradition of Samba. Having grown up immersed in Samba (her father Carlos was one of the directors of the famous Portela Samba school in Rio de Janeiro), Montewas aware that there were many songs that were passed along orally that weren’t being recorded and were in danger of being lost. So she began researching these songs and their histories by interviewing Samba composers, as well as their family members & colleagues.
Universo ao Meu Redor places several of her discoveries that date back as far as the 1940s, including songs by Jayme Silva, D. Yvonne Lara, Casemiro Vieira, Moraes e Galvao, and Argemiro Patrocinio, alongside new Samba songs written by Monte with Brown and Antunes and other contemporary composers such as Paulinho da Viola. Ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne also makes a guest appearance on the song “Statue of Liberty,” which he co-wrote with Monte.
During the same time that Monte was doing her Samba research, she also began to sort through her large collection of cassette tapes on which she had documented her songwriting process from the beginning of her career. As she went through the hundreds of tapes, digitizing them for preservation, she came across the early sketches of songs that had since been recorded and made popular, but also many songs that she had abandoned and not yet returned to finish.
This inspired Monte, along with songwriting partners both old (Brown, Antunes, Nando Reis, Pedro Baby, and Dadi) and new (Seu Jorge, Adriana Calcanhotto, Marcelo Yuka, Leonardo Reis and Rodrigo Campelo), to readdress some of this unfinished material and bring it to life. The result is the 13 tracks on Infinito Particular (Infinite Private), which was co-produced by Monte and Alê Siqueira, and also features arrangements by Eumir Deodato, João Donato, and the renowned American Classical composer Philip Glass.