Brazil is leading the world per capita in coronavirus cases making it unlikely that people will be cramming into a concert venue anytime soon to hear live music. Then there is the recent unrest that erupted in response to civil injustices in the US that bodes to spark meaningful change around the world. These are the events that inspired contemporary jazz pianist Ricardo Bacelar to release a new version of the Milton Nascimento
classic “Nothing Will Be As It Was (Nada Sera Como Antes)” as a single ahead of the release of his Live in Rio (Ao Vivo No Rio)
album, which drops August 21 from Bacelar Productions.
“‘Nothing Will Be As It Was’ summarizes the existential questions raised globally by the coronavirus pandemic. Add to it the civil injustice and unrest that has surfaced over the last couple of weeks with Black Lives Matter, which is an especially important movement. We’re talking about the subject here in Brazil, too. We have a lot of problems with racism here, but our people have not yet taken the streets to protest and have social demonstrations. The world is watching the United States and people are talking about these issues everywhere,” said Bacelar who produced the 11-song Live in Rio
Bacelar’s 2018 album, Sebastiana,
contains a very different version of “Nothing Will Be As It Was,” which was sung in English by American singer Maye Osorio and accompanied by an animated video that suited the pop-electronic rendition of the song. The new live version has a different arrangement and features Bacelar dueting with Brazilian vocalist-pianist Delia Fischer in Portuguese backed by a jazz band.
“I chose to release this single thinking about this moment and the lyrics of the song. The lyrics are like a photograph of the moment. It’s a very famous song in Brazil that was originally recorded in 1976 when we were under a military dictatorship. The lyrics say ‘I know that tomorrow nothing will be like before, What news of my friends will they give me? What news of you will they give me?’ People were disappearing at the hands of the dictatorial military regime. And now people are disappearing–dying–because of the virus. Everyone in Brazil, the United States and all over the world have lost friends due to the virus,” said Bacelar. Live in Rio
was recorded in May 2018 at The Blue Note in Rio while Bacelar was promoting Sebastiana.
He trimmed the 17-song set to the eleven tunes that appear on the live record feeling that the selected song list on the disc represents a balanced sampling of his repertoire and body of work. The outing includes tunes penned by Brazilian icons Nascimento, Antonio Carlos Jobim
, Gilberto Gil
and Flora Purim
along with American greats Benny Golson
, Horace Silver
, Pat Metheny
and Chick Corea
. Also included is a composition that Bacelar wrote with producer Cesar Lemos (Ricky Martin, Paulina Rubio) titled “Sernambetiba, 1992” from Sebastiana.
“I love the sound of the album because you can hear the energy of the live performance and the sound of playing in a jazz club. The Blue Note isn’t a big place–about 300 people–so you can hear the ambiance of playing in a small club. The microphone on the piano picked up the other instruments like the drums and saxophone because it’s a small place. The sound is very different than what you get in the studio where the sound is more clean,” said Bacelar who was accompanied by guitarist João Castilho, saxophonist-flutist Danilo Sina, double bassist Alexandre Katatau, drummer Renato Endrigo and percussionist André Siqueira.
The idea of dropping the live album now began earlier in quarantine when Bacelar sat to record a solo piano piece for his social media. It made him think about the isolation people were feeling and the role live music plays and the unique energy it possesses.
“The time in isolation is accompanied by multiple experiences and music is a fundamental vehicle for perception, connection and the formation of perspectives that bring meaning to the events on personal, spiritual and emotional levels. I wanted to remind people of the sound of live music. People need the warm sound and feelings of live music as opposed to the electronic stuff we hear on studio recordings. By listening to this live album, you can embrace the warm sound from the safety and comfort of your home.”
As an artist, Bacelar wants Live in Rio
to be viewed as more than just a live recording. He wants the album to have impact, to say something, which is clearly reflected in his choice of the first single.
“The album is not only about the songs. Without art and abstraction, life is meaningless. Artists have to have a position, make a statement about something and have a voice–not just sing and play piano. The album is a concept–with the arrangements, the cover, the lyrics. It’s important to me to send an important message.” Live in Rio (Ao Vivo No Rio)
tracklist: Killer Joe; Toda Menina Bahiana; Nothing Will Be As It Was; Senõr Blues; Partido Alto; So May It Secretly Begin; Caicó Cantiga; Água de Beber; Sernambetiba, 1992; Nanã; Blue Miles.