Producers into hip dance music have been drawing from Brazil’s rich rhythmic tradition for years. It’s a good idea to research where the fusion of traditional Brazilian folk music and Western electronica started and what the results of this fusion are. The concert series Brasil Electrico promises to be a revealing search leading from Deodato via Azymuth to Vinicius Cantuária.
Our treasure hunt starts with Deodato, a name that by now has vanished completely from all music encyclopedias and is the stage name of pianist Eumir Deodato Almeida. He’s the man who witnessed and helped form modern Brazilian dance music. Deodato taught himself to play piano and in the ’60s commanded respect as Astrud Gilberto’s accompanist. After winning a prize at Rio de Janeiro’s song festival for his song ‘Spirit of Summer’, he migrated to California. In the promised land he worked with Roberta Flack, Frank Sinatra, Bette Midler and Aretha Franklin. As a solo artist Deodato had a monster hit with an arrangement of Richard Strauss’ ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’, a piece director Stanley Kubrick used as the theme song for the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
In Deodato’s wake, the trio Azymuth moved towards success. The band was formed in 1971 by pianist José Roberto Bertrami, bass player Alex Malheiros and drummer Ivan Conté. Ten years later they had their first big success with the world hit ‘Jazz Carnival’, a song that made hordes of American stars decide to travel to Brazil to dip their music into a trendy, exotic sauce. Today, Azymuth still makes an infectious blend of danceable jazz, funk and samba. Their albums are re-mixed by a.o. 4Hero and Jazzanova, who consider Azymuth one of their inspirations.
Also extremely danceable: the music of Bossacucanova, the name by which the DJs and producers Alexandre Moreira, Marcelo Da Lua and Marcio Menescal go. The trio remixes authentic bossa classics and after Marcio Menescal asked his father Roberto Menescal – an old bossa nova master himself– to join the band, the musical circle was complete.
And finally Vinicius Cantuária, who had to make an intelligent musical detour to free himself from the straitjacket the Brazilian public had him captured in. In his country, he was known as a rock and pop singer and he couldn’t free himself from that image. Only when he started playing bossanovas in New York to the drum ‘n’ bass rhythms of guitarist Arto Lyndsay, did his native country accept him as the Brazilian bossa’s new hero.