Seu Jorge has always put artistic freedom first. His extraordinary story spans theatre projects in Rio’s favelas, movie acting (as Knockout Ned in Fernando Meirelles’ City Of God, and with Bill Murray in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic) and of course, becoming one of Brazil’s best known singers. The man happens to have samba’s most soulful voice. But as he proved with his celebrated album of David Bowie covers – the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic – he can pour that rich baritone into all kinds of music and utterly own it.
This brand new project is steeped in that smoky, soul-piercing voice, but it’s also about a band: Almaz. The other three members are hugely respected artists in their own right: Pupillo, one of the most sought-after drummers in Brazil, and Lucio Maia, voted seven times the best guitarist in the country, are both members of the legendary Nação Zumbi. And on bass, the award-winning film score composer Antonio Pinto (Central Station, City of God). They first met up to record a song for the Walter Salles film Linha de Passe and got such a buzz out of the chemistry in the studio they decided to record an entire album together.
That spontaneous, relaxed vibe flows throughout the record, and it also lives in the repertoire – each musician freely choosing songs which inspire them. “The only leader here is the music” says Jorge. The tracklist lays out twelve new versions of songs by twelve different songwriters, songs they love from Brazil, America and Europe. From Jorge Ben and Michael Jackson to Kraftwerk, Tim Maia and Roy Ayers, mixing samba, soul and rock, hits and obscurities, like spinning the dial on a dream radio.
“This project is a place for liberation” explains Antonio, and that freedom is something you feel at the heart of their spacey, psychedelic sound. As Lucio points out, there’s a great tradition of fabulous collaborations in Brazil, and it’s clear this is a band everyone deeply enjoys being part of. Pupillo: “Apart from being beautiful, the words of the song “Errare Humanum Est,” or ‘to err is human’, say everything about Almaz in the sense that taking risks is perfect, it’s good to have the freedom to play and create without being afraid to make a mistake.”
They may have been supremely relaxed but Seu Jorge and Almaz nail it every time. Tune in to their sublime version of “Everybody Loves The Sunshine,” rock out to their psych-samba “Pai João” and groove to a very laid-back “Rock With You.” With production by Mario C. (Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson), Seu Jorge and Almaz have made a record which has cinematic scale – an expansive free-flowing soundtrack to the movie in their minds.
(Biography supplied by artist management 2010)
Seu Jorge And Almaz (Nação Zumbi) 2010
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