Vinicius Cantuária


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If it is true that the best and most lasting innovations draw much of their deep strength from the past, then Vinicius Cantuaria may have a lock on the future of Brazilian music. Here the Brazilian singer/songwriter/instrumentalist conjures up a fascinating record, deeply rooted in the bossa nova yet infused with a cool, studied Generation X sensibility, a willingness to explore new combinations of sound, and the ability to lose itself in strange places. Many of these songs are incantations where the European and contemporary spices are applied ever so subtly -- a string quartet darkly colors the title track, Erik Friedlander's cello adds warm undercurrents, Cantuaria's electronic samples delicately add mysterious shadows. Yet at the same time, the bossa nova rhythm is almost always there swinging away, gently driving the music underneath Cantuaria's warm Portuguese vocals. More importantly, these songs tap deeply into the Brazilian sense of saudade (roughly translated, yearning) to a remarkable degree. Cantuaria receives totally simpatico Anglo help from Bill Frisell, who adds pearl-like electric guitar to "Amor Brasileiro"; Peter Apfelbaum, whose subtle and pithy tenor sax enhances "Maravilhar"; and Sean Lennon, whose unobtrusive electric bass underpins three numbers. The most striking track, "Retirante," definitively ties Brazil and the American avant-garde together as Cantuaria alternates his Portuguese vocals with Laurie Anderson's characteristic arch speech-song and quietly shattering violins. Tucuma may well be the breakthrough that the hype claims it is.

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