As an added treat, North by Northwest will host a dinner before the show. “This dinner marks the first official collaboration between the Sedgwick and North by Northwest,” explains Greg Martino, director of the Sedgwick. “We have always wanted to offer Sedgwick patrons the opportunity to purchase one ticket and make one stop for dinner and a show. We think people will be enthusiastic about this program, and we have already sold a substantial number of tickets. It’s a great way to simplify an evening out and to make sure that you get to the concert on time.”
Vinicius Cantuária was born in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil, living there until he was seven, when his family moved to Rio. As singer, songwriter, guitarist and percussionist, his career connects several zones of Brazilian music. Although his music is known for its decidedly twenty-first century feel, Cantuária’s band might best be described as ‘post-electronica acoustic’ – a band that includes jazz bassist Paul Socolow, a violinist, and a rotating crew of Brazilian percussionists Nanny Assis, Mauro Refosco and legendary drummer Paulo Braga. Their repertoire typically includes songs by Jobim and Gilberto Gil, as well as Cantuária’s own fund of songs.
Cantuária’s albums, always critics’ favorites, have featured collaborations with some of the starrier names in left-field commercial music: Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Brian Eno, Bill Frisell, and Arto Lindsay. Though artists such as Anderson, Frisell and Lindsay have a common touch, there is always an unusual twist to their music: they don’t worry about ugly sounds. They are prepared to confront their sophisticated audiences as well as delight them. Cantuária, by contrast, rarely produces anything that is not beautiful. He might express enthusiastic interest in DJ Spooky and the scratchy rhythms of laptop blip-hop, trade vocals with David Byrne or duet with Marc Ribot, but the end-result is always tuneful, light, fleet and musical.
Cantuária has a studio in New York that he treats as an ‘atelier’, somewhere to go everyday to develop his practice. He might write a song, or listen to older tapes… ‘sometimes I play pandeiro for two days straight,’ he says, ‘always I work, for fun.’ Or he might spend ages playing with alternative chords for ‘The Girl From Ipanema’, perhaps the best-known song of his idol Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim: “I can feel the song in so many different ways,” says Cantuária. He stresses the importance of the acoustic guitar as the element of his craft – every song is originally worked out and written on the acoustic guitar, though he might use the electric instrument in the final orchestration.
He is more commercially successful than his modest demeanor might suggest. A few years ago, Fabio Jr.’s version of Cantuária’s song So Voce" sold more than two million copies in Brazil. ‘Lua E Estrella’, the song Cantuária wrote for Caetano Veloso in 1981, was the latter’s biggest hit. Veloso makes a guest appearance on the 2001 album, Vinicius (Transparent) for the delicate song ‘Agua Rasa’. Cantuária made several solo albums throughout the 80s and 90s, prior to relocating from Rio to New York in 1995, and the international breakthrough of Sol Na Cara in the following year.
When you press Cantuária for his definition of contemporary music, his terms of reference remain thoroughly popular. He talks about the enduring freshness of British pop music: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones. “Contemporary music for me is something like Jobim, Eno. If you listen to music from the 1980’s, like Duran Duran or Tears for Fears it now sounds old because of the synthesizers. But ‘Satisfaction’ still sounds good. It’s like buying a good pair of traditional black shoes, that will last you ten years,” he says.
Vinicius Cantuária will bring his quartet to the Sedgwick for one concert on Saturday, December 4 at 8 p.m. There is a special pre-concert dinner at North by Northwest with seating times between 5:30 and 6:30. Reserved tickets for the pre-concert dinner must be made by November 26th. Tickets for the concert plus dinner are $40. Tickets for the concert alone are $18 in advance and $22 at the door. Free parking is available in the municipal lot across the street from the Sedgwick. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Sedgwick at 215-248-9229. The Sedgwick Cultural Center is located in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic Northwest at 7137 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119.
Vinicius Cantuaria Interview (2004)