Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Andy Summers plays Rio

The history of collaborations between Latin and particularly Anglo-Saxon musicians goes way back to Carmen Miranda (she-of–the-fruit-headress), but it took off in the late 50s and early 60s with the advent of bossa nova and the incomparable Tom Jobim. In the early 70s London became the temporary home of ‘Tropicalia’ exiles Gilbeto Gill and Caetano Veloso, both influencing and being influenced by the exploding rock culture. And look out for interesting 80’s collaborations between Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music) and Sergio Dias (Os Mutantes) on 1990´s album, ´Mato Grosso, and Manzanera produced the highly acclaimed album Severino from the Brazilian rock band Os Paralamas do Sucesso, which included a participation by Brian May. In more modern times rock’s aristocracy have turned up on Brazilian shores seeking inspiration, with many taking up part-time residence; amongst them Jimmy Page, the late Jim Capaldi, Wayne Hussey (The Mission), and Andy Summers of The Police.

A couple of nights ago I ventured out to catch the last in concert with one of Brazil’s greatest living bossa nova exponents, Roberto Mensecal. The gig was in a comparatively new venue here; the placa de mauai, a renovated warehouse in the somewhat threatening area of Rio’s docks, Unexpectedly, they were joined by the fantastic Marcus Valle and other well-know local musicians.

This was bossa-rock fusion of the most interesting kind. Imagine, if you will, ‘Roxanne’ and ‘Message in a Bottle’ done in bossa-nova style with just Summers on guitar accompanying vocalist Cris Delanno. And then imagine Summers as part of a three-man guitar line up with Valle and Menescal, performing bossa classics like Tom Jobin’s ‘Garota de Ipanema’ (Girl from Ipanema) and Chega de Saudade, Menescal’s own classic, ’Barquinho’ (Little Boat), and Valle’s Samba de Verao (Summer Samba).

Summers struggled with the heat and with his Portuguese but not with the music. His passion for the style, and respect of the history, was evident. The locals’ passion for The Police was equally evidenced by enthusiastic singing, and despite their being a relatively small crowd of approximately 250 souls, he was given a rousing ovation when the whole band encored with Every Breath you Take.

Actually, it’s one of the advantages of this town; you get to see bands and musicians cheaper and in much more intimate surroundings than you’d ever do ‘at home’. Worth the airfare, I’d say!

Bossa Nova affectionados, or simply the curios, will find it worthwhile investing in the DVD that this concert launched; ‘United Kingdom of Ipanema, Roberto Menescal convida Andy Summers’.

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