Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música - Multishow Live

STEVE HOROWITZ

To say singers, songwriters, and guitarists Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil are famous in Brazil is like saying Willie Nelson is big in Texas. The Veloso and Gil are more than that. Like Nelson, they are legends whose names evoke the place from which they come to anyone even faintly familiar with the place from which they emerged, For more than 50 years, Veloso and Gil have been at the forefront of the Brazilian cultural scene. Gil has even served as the South American nation’s Minister of Culture.

The two recently played 44 sold-out concerts in 21 countries and 35 cities. They have begun touring again, making stops in the United States at Los Angeles, Oakland, Miami, and Brooklyn This new Nonesuch live double-disc release features an entire concert in Brazil comprising 28 songs, mostly written by Veloso and Gil, performed acoustically, as both duets and solo. The two also produced the record.

Although they have led separate careers, Veloso and Gil were friends and part of the Música popular brasileira and Tropicália movements during the 1960s, which led to their imprisonment and exile by the country’s authorities. Veloso has gone on to release more than 49 albums, Gil 60, and as solo acts they have won a combined total of nine Grammy Awards and a host of other honors. They have also recorded and toured together in the past.

The songs here go as far back as the 1960s (“Tropicália”) and extend to the present with the new track “As Camélias do Quilombo do Leblon”. The two are more than 70 years old, and while their voices may lack the ranges (although on “Tornado De Lune Llena” Veloso manages to hit both the high and low notes) they once had, they still play and sing powerfully when the song calls for it. Gil’s “Espresso 2222” and “Toda Menina Baiana” serve as an excellent examples of a hard driving tunes that compel the audience to sing and clap along. Veloso tends to take a gentler approach, as on the celebratory “Sampa” and the lilting “Terra” When they sing together, as on De Manha” Veloso’s voice flows lightly until Gil comes abroad and starts to syncopate. The two keep their identities separate even as their voices overlay each other’s.

This is even true on material such as “As Camélias do Quilombo do Leblon” that has the two singing simultaneously from beginning to end over a samba beat. Rather than harmonize, the voices complement each other like a conversation among like-minded friends. When the song ends and the guitars stop, the two continue to belt out the title lyrics to the enjoyment of the crowd. The duo knows they have found a groove and dig it a little deeper just for the fun of it.

There’s a reason why musicians go to the studio to record and then go on the road to perform. While those unfamiliar with the artists will enjoy the pleasant vibe of the two friends performing together, like most live albums this would serve best as a souvenir of the show than as an introduction to their work. However, as this represents more than 100 years of music (50 years apiece), and would serve as a good place to start. One could check out the tracks and look up where and when they were originally recorded and explore their catalogues. Each of the songs here could easily inspire further research because of their excellent quality.

Veloso and Gil still have much to offer. Their live shows must be a gas. For those unable to make it, this is the next best thing to being there.



in POP Matters, 19.04.2016
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