Last year I wrote an article for American Express on where to find good music in Rio de Janeiro. As well as talking about where to see samba, the article mentions the best places to dance samba, to hear tropicalia and bossa nova, as well as the best spots for dance music and alternative rock and indie. It’s a pretty good primer for getting your head around the Rio nightlife.
Like an excited schoolgirl awaiting new gossip on Justin Bieber the prospect of seeing Tom Zé in the flesh almost brought me out in hives. If I ever had any doubt this man is a genius this has now been put to bed.
The concert in Sao Paulo was to celebrate the release of Studies of Tom Ze: Explaining Things So I Can Confuse You, a compilation by Luaka Bop that combines three of his albums; Estudando o Samba, Estudando o Pagode and Estudando a Bossa. It’s songs from these albums that he would be playing, although he did stray into other albums quite a few times. One of the highlights was “To”, which is the video above, and also contains the line “Eu To Te Explicando Pra Te Confundir,” which is where the new collection gets the second part of its title. For some reason “Explaining Things So I Can Confuse You” just doesn’t quite have the same rhythm to it.
Here’s “Jimi Renda-Se,” one of those songs that isn’t actually on the Estudando albums, but is simply too good to miss out:
And here’s “Brigette Bardot.” It is said the cover of this album is actually a photo of a marble stuck up someone’s arse, something Zé did to amuse himself while the military dictatorship was at its most dominant.
For me, the concert at times was quite tiring. Mainly due to the fact that every song had an introduction, that would involve Zé pulling out a letter that he had written to Ronald Reagan, or explaining the contents of his new release, or putting a new jacket he had just made that he wanted everyone to know about. I’m pretty certain Ze’s brain works at 10 times the rate of mine, so even if he had been speaking English I would have struggled to keep up. As it was, in a rapid-fire of Portuguese my brain started to fizz and crackle trying to understand every nuance. It was these intros, which would often segue into the songs, that made the performance half theatre/half song, especially as he was playing with just a small quintet of performers, as opposed to some of the larger groups he’s been helming lately.
And for a bit more background information, this is the little promotional nugget Luaka Bop put together for the release.
On The Road to Find Out is a blog all about South America which I started in March 2009 upon landing in Rio de Janeiro, and which includes stories from my travels in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.
As well as these travel stories, you will hopefully also get to understand my obsessions with food, football and music, all of which go hand-in-hand with travelling around South America, on a journey which has no end in sight yet.