Exploring The Brazilian Guitar

by Brazil Club - Let The Music Take You There on 01/08/2018 - 02:04 pm

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Ahh, Brasil

With sports, it’s soccer. With music it’s the guitar, the single instrument which perfectly complements Brazil’s split personalities: The vast beaches of Rio’s Zona Sul, the vast reaches of the Amazon. The vast richness of blended cultures from Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Six strings, seven strings, electric or acoustic, the Brazilian guitar is symbolic of its people and their cultural history.

2018 marks Bossa Nova’s 60th birthday and January is the month we celebrate the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim (his birth day is on the 25th). Was Jobim a gifted guitarist? Not really. Jobim's guitar 'moment' came when Frank Sinatra invited the Brazilian to be a part of a television special, and 'suggested' that a guitar would be a better prop than Jobim's customary place behind the piano.

In fact, guitar accolades are properly directed towards Jobim’s contemporaries, such as Luiz Bonfá, Roberto Menescal and ultimately João Gilberto, who reinvented the Brazilian guitar to create the Bossa beat that remains so perfectly vital still today. In fact, Gilberto set the bar so high that his style remains as a standard of excellence; one by which others - on both sides of the equator - are compared.



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The Brazilian guitar is jazz with Romero Lubambo, Rosinha de ValençaLaurindo Almeida and Garoto. It’s Baden Powell’s visions of Bahia. It’s Bola Sete, Edu Lobo and Helio Delmiro. It’s the melodic rhythm of Juarez Moreira and Ulisses Rocha and the anthem-like exuberance of Axé and Lambada. It powers Brazilian rock for Tiago Iorc, Skank and Gabriel Martins.

It’s the sound that frames Astrud Gilberto’s innocence. It’s Caetano Veloso in his clear plastic suit - onstage in São Paulo - amplifying a new generation’s defiance. The Brazilian guitar is the backbone for voices. In fact, you would have to contemplate for a while to name a Brazilian singer who does not play the guitar. Dori Caymmi does. So do Djavan, Toquinho, Milton Nascimento and João Bosco. And Joyce, Celia Vaz, Jane Duboc, Rosa Passos and Rita Lee.

Even keyboardist Ivan Lins plays… the guitar. So does Pelé and Xuxa and many of Brazil’s political leaders including Gilberto Gil and former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Torcuato Mariano and Victor Biglione emigrated from Argentina to become new voices for the Brazilian guitar. Sandro Albert moved north, too – from the south of Brazil to Los Angeles and then New York to make his mark. The US is also home to Oscar Castro-Neves and his unsurpassed career as a performer, arranger and musical ambassador.

Ditto for Lee Ritenour, whose love for Brazilian music resulted in a personal dedication to introduce us to many of Brazil’s top musicians – his recordings showcased Djavan, Ivan Lins, Caetano Veloso, João Bosco and Gonzaguinha – often for the first time on a US album.

And for a while, the City of Angels was home to Ricardo Silveira, who with Toninho Horta and Pat Metheny is part of the multi-faceted face of Brazilian guitar on this side of the Equator.

Well, there it is: a ‘who’s who’ of the Brazilian guitar, and by no means a complete list. Our show spotlights a baker’s dozen of the guitarists included in this story, so click on the button at the top of this page to listen, dive into the playlist for even more great Brazilian guitarists this week.

Happy Listening,

Scott Adams



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This Week on The Sounds of Brazil : 'The Brazilian Guitar'

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