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Caetano Veloso
biography, concert and album reviews
Article added in June 2000
 


Caetano Veloso: Outras Palavras, 1998 (original release date: 1981). Songs: Outras Palavras, Gema, Vera Gata, Lua E Estrela, Sim/Nao, Nu Com A Minha Musica, Rapte Me Camaleoa, Dans Mon Ile (in French), Tem Que Ser Voce, Blues, Verdura, Quero Um Baby Seu, Jeito De Corpo. A soft, sweet, quiet and unspectacular album, with the French chanson Dans mon île. written by M. Pon and H. Salvador, as the only highlight. Get the album from Amazon.com, Amazon.de. - Sheet music by Caetano Veloso. -
German article / deutsche Artikel zu Veloso
 

Caetano Veloso: Estrangeiro, 1989. An album written by Veloso, with the exception of Meia Lua Inteira, a song by Carlinhos Brown with a political message, and Jasper, a tune written in English by Lindsay, Sherer and Veloso. Exceptional is Os Outros Românticos because it contains a political statement against materialism: "The blah blah bubble of economics recited on television/These irreducible atheists/Simulated a religion/And the Spirit was the sex of Pixote [etc.]". Among the album's musicians is jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. Get the album from Amazon.com, Amazon.de.
 

Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque: Caetano e Chico. Juntos e Ao Vivo, 1972 (1999). 
This album was recorded live in 1972 and was re-released in 1999. It unites two greats of Brazilian music, Caetano Veloso and Chico Buarque. Among the eleven songs, six are performed by Veloso, four by Buarque and three by the two together. Interestingly, Partido Alto (a political and religious protest song) and Tropicalía are aggressively interpreted, with then modern pop and rock elements. The rest of the album is filled with soft tunes. When they sing together, Chico Buarque has the smoother voice. The two icons do not perfectly fit together, but show a convincing live presence. Get the album from Amazon.com, or Amazon.de.


Caetano Veloso: Orfeu (Soundtrack), 2000. Get the CD from Amazon.com. Caetano Veloso is a versatile musician. He is responsible for the marvelous soundtrack to the film Orfeu by Brazilian director Carlos Diegues, a new version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, partly taking place in the favelas, the slums of Rio de Janeiro, and based on the original play Orfeu da Conceição. The soundtrack includes remakes of songs from the 1959 Black Orpheus (by Nelson Sargento, Jamelão, Luis Bonfá, Antônio Maria, Tom Jobim and Vincíus de Moraes), A Felicidade by Jobim and Moraes from 1960 as well as Valsa de Euridice (Moraes/Veloso) and Os Cinco Bailes da História do Rio (Silas de Oliveira, Ivone Lara, Bacalhau) from the 1970s. The other nine new compositions and musical scores are by Caetano Veloso (among them the carnival music O Enredo de Orfeu - História do Carnaval Carioca which he wrote together with the rapper Gabriel O Pensador). Get the album from Amazon.com.
 

For his album Livro Caetano Veloso was awarded a GRAMMY in the World Music genre for Best World Music Album of the Year 1999. Songs: Os Passistas, Livros, Onde O Rio E Mais Baiano, Manhata, Doideca, Voce E Minha, Um Tom, How Beautiful Could A Being Be, O Navio Negreiro, Nao Enche, Minha Voz, Minha Vida, Alexandre, Na Baixa Do Sapateiro, Pra Ninguem. Get the CD from Amazon.com, Amazon.de.

Concert at the Kongresshaus Zurich, June 5, 2000
 
At the age of 57, Caetano Veloso is already a veteran of popular Brazilian music. This does not mean that his music is outdated, his experience just makes it better. Although Caetano Veloso wrote in the album Estrangeiro that "Some may like a soft Brazilian singer, But I've given up all attempts at perfection", he is a master of the intimate song. And therefore he started his concert in the Kongresshaus in Zurich with ballads, but later offered much more than his well-known soft side.
 
His 1999 Grammy award winning album Livro was in the center of the evening which is part of his current world tour Prenda minha. Among the songs performed were Livros, an allusion to the period of the dictatorship in Brazil and the tour's title song, the popular tune Prenda minha. In Terra, a stylistic potpourri, Caetano Veloso watched the blue planet from outer space.
 
In a solo part, Caetano Veloso, just accompanied by his guitar, played some classic tunes from his repertoire such as Coraço Vagabundo and Sozinha. The public, half of it Brazilian, joined in, partly working as a choir for the artist. In Manhata, a tribute to the Statue of Liberty, Veloso walked through New York and, in Baby, he showed his loving side. Both songs are again from his new album.
 
Afterwards, Veloso presented his eleven young musicians, only arranger and cellist Jacques Morelenbaum is of the singer's age. The artists mostly come from Bahia and the surrounding cities. Later, all band members got a chance to dance a few moments to the title line of a tune written by his son, Moreno Veloso, How Beautiful Could A Being Be, another song from the album Livro. The women in the public especially appreciated the moving backs of the dancing musicians, greeted by enthusiastic cheers.
 
The new album and the Prenda minha tour are an attempt by Veloso to be modern. Besides some harder tunes with rock and pop elements, he presented Doideca from Livro, a twelve-tone cacophony, reading the lyrics from a sheet of paper and making it one of the highlights of the evening. Os Passistas from Livro was among the last songs of the official part of the concert.
 
After a standing ovation, he presented three encores, among them Lua Lua Lua (by Moraes/Veloso, to find on Orfeu), raising his fragile voice to the moon, and O Estrangeiro, the title song from the 1989 album. It was an evening between old and new Veloso hits, a tribute to Brazilian tradition and avant-garde, to tropicalismo, samba, bossa nova, jazz, pop and, last but not least, to the singer's native city of Bahia (Bahia, Terra de Felicidade). It is a long time since Veloso last came to Zurich. Hopefully, the Brazilians and other fans of his music won't have to wait as long to see him again. - CDs by Caetano Veloso at Amazon.com.



Caetano Veloso's name is closely tied to the notion of Tropicalismo, the Brazilian musical movement of the 1960s which he created together with Gilberto Gil at the beginning of the military dictatorship. It began with the third festival of the Música Popular Brasileira in São Paulo in 1967, where Veloso and Gil won the second and fourth place with their songs Alegria, Alegria and Domingo no Parque. Tropicalismo was different from the already famous Bossa Nova and influenced the Música Popular Brasileira, the plastic arts (Hélio Oiticida), theatre (Celso Corrêa) and film (Glauber Rocha). The album Tropicália ou panis et circensis (1968) by Gil and Veloso definitely established the two as well as the movement as the avant-garde. The fragmented mass culture was mixed together and enriched by classical and popular music, bossa nova, samba, rock'n'roll and modern poetry. Caetano Veloso is from Salvador de Bahia and therefore Bahian rhythms play a key role in his music, but no style dominates, un-conciliated elements often stand side by side. Generally the songs are quiet and soft. But the 1967-song Tropicália, which gave the movement its name, needs getting used to. Tropicalismo was largely an apolitical middle class phenomenon. Despite this fact, Gil and Veloso were arrested in 1968 and sent to London in exile. (If you read German, have a look at the article on Caetano Veloso by Regina Marquardt in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, June 3/4, 2000). [June 27, 2003: Get Caetano Veloso's autobiography Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil from Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr].

Caetano Veloso biography (added on July 14, 2003)
Coypright by Carlos Renó for Universal Music
 
Santo Amaro da Purificação is a small city on the coast of Bahia State, near Salvador. There, on  August 7th , 1942, Caetano Veloso was born, the fifth of Mr Zezinho and Mrs Canô's seven children. The boy didn't take long to reveal an artistic penchant, impressing everybody with his imagination. In 1960, he moved to Salvador. In the local university, he felt stimulated by a vanguardist cultural program; there, he also studied philosophy.
 
During this period, he fell under the decisive influence of two geniuses from Bahia: João Gilberto, the inventor of Bossa Nova, and Glauber Rocha, of Cinema Novo. Caetano wrote cinema critics and started to play guitar. In 1964 he participated in the show "Us, For Example", which revealed, besides himself, singer-composers Gilberto Gil and Tom Zé, and the singers Gal Costa and Maria Bethânia, his sister. In the following years, the group performed other similar shows in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. And, except for Bethânia, they reunited in the tropicalist movement.
 
In 1967, Caetano shared with Gal his first LP, the post-bossa-novish "Sunday" (produced by Philips, later Polygram, which released almost all his records). That same year, at the Record TV's festival in São Paulo, Caetano and Gil presented two original songs of traditional musical structure to the sound of acoustic guitars: "Happiness, Happiness" and "Sunday at the Park". It was the explosion of Tropicalism. The tropicalists assimilated international pop into national genres and into the conquests of bossa nova. Their records introduced radical musical innovations.
 
The author of "Tropicália", the movement's emblematic song, Caetano initiated a standard of lyrics that raised itself to the status of poetry. Tropicalism joined tradition and vanguard, the erudite and the popular, the rural and the urban. Critical and libertarian, it ended up repressed by the military regime. Caetano and Gil were arrested and exiled. In 1969, they departed to London. Caetano was already married - to Dedé Gadelha. She gave birth to his first son, Moreno, in 1974.
 
In swinging London, Caetano lived through very sad times, as attested by his "Songs Of Exile", composed in English. One of them, "London, London", was made a hit by Gal. In 1971, he visited Brazil. He came to take part, with Gal, in a historic meeting with João Gilberto, on a television program. A year later, he returned for good. In Salvador, he shared a show ( recorded in an album ( with another great composer of his generation, Chico Buarque, from Rio.
 
His "Blue Araçá" also dates from this period, a record marked by experimentalism. Experimental elements never ceased to be part of his work. At the same time, he became even more popular, erecting a great and beautiful body of work, with new hits as "Tigresa", "Um Índio", "Terra", "Lua de São Jorge", "Beleza Pura" and "Menino do Rio"; besides "Sampa", dedicated to the city of São Paulo.
 
In 1976, Caetano rejoined Gil, Gal and Bethânia to form a group, The Sweet Barbarians (Doces Bárbaros), and toured around Brazil. Next year, he traveled with Gil to Nigeria, Africa, to a world festival of black arts and culture. Free and original, his thinking served as reference to the people of the counterculture and the left. He was a guru.
 
In the first half of the 80s, the ever controversial Caetano generated heated arguments with Brazilian intellectuals, such as the critic José Guilherme Merquior, the journalist Paulo Francis and the poet Décio Pignatari. Afterwards, he also disagreed with the press, with whom he never had an easy relationship.
 
In 1981, he participated with Gil in João Gilberto's album "Brazil". After that, he pursued the making of the true works of art that are his own records. In them he registered more classics of his own: "Rapte-me Camaleoa", "Meu bem, meu mal", "Eclipse Oculto", "Você é linda", "Podres Poderes".  All that besides his very personal recreations of songs of others through which he distinguished himself: "Sina" (Djavan), "Sonhos" (by Peninha), "É Hoje" (theme song of a Rio samba school, União da Ilha) and "Fera Ferida" (by Roberto and Erasmo Carlos).
 
In 1986, he presented with Chico Buarque the musical "Chico and Caetano" on Globo TV, and directed his first feature film, the radical "O Cinema Falado" ( a movie about cinema and arts in general with an experimental language and a personal voice. At the end of the decade, his name was synonymous with elegance and sophistication. Since 1986, he is married to actress Paula Lavigne, from Rio. She gave birth to his next two sons, Tom and Zeca, in the 90s.
 
The 90s witness the acclaim of Caetano as one of the artists exerting the greatest influence in Brazilian culture.
 
His records exhibit the same musical-poetic refinement as ever. One, from 1993, is made in collaboration with Gil: "Tropicália 2", including the hits "Haiti" and "Desde que o Samba é Samba". And "Fina Estampa", from the following year, recreates Latin classics under a bossa-novish perspective ( one of the songs is picked up by his long time friend Pedro Almodovar's for the movie "La Flor de Mi Secreto". Also in 1994, Caetano, along with Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa and Maria Bethânia are honored by the most celebrated Rio Samba school, MANGUEIRA, becoming the theme of this prestigious samba school presented at that year's Carnival parade.
 
In 1997, he released his first book, "Verdade Tropical", the collection of reflexive memoirs over the first 3 decades of his life and career. The book received rave reviews in Brazil and abroad.
 
The invitations to perform around the globe come from all over, and Caetano was also invited to do special performances like a tribute to director Federico Fellini and his wife actress Giuletta Masina in Italy, in 1997.
 
In 1999, his CD "Prenda Minha" surpassed the mark of one million copies sold in Brazil alone, pulled by the megahit "Sozinho" (by Peninha). And he was invited to produce a new album of his great master, Bossa Nova's seminal character João Gilberto. In splendid maturity, he keeps developing his art in constant renovation.
 
2000 was another busy year for him. He was invited to perform at the yearly event "Pavarotti and Friends" in Italy and released the album "Noites do Norte" by the end of the year. The album once again was received with enthusiasm by public and critics, all praising the artist's capacity to maintain constant renovation and creativity.
 
After a short break  Caetano started an extensive tour in June 2001 that took him to every corner of the country and also the world. So far 'Noites do Norte' - the tour- was seen in Brazil, France, Portugal, Germany and Argentina. The concerts in Europe were complemented by special presentations in Italy (a private appearance to celebrate Michelangelo Antonioni's 80th birthday) and he received the Antonioni's award, a prize created by the prestigious filmmaker to honor personalities that contributed to the world's arts.
 
While still on the road, Caetano's releases now a live album - "Noites do Norte Live". This time he decides to maintain the complete show on record and the 2 record set becomes a special gift to his fans that will be able to get all the 34 songs featured on the show, with no editing or overdubs whatsoever.
 
"Noites do Norte ao vivo" captures a great moment of an artist full of great moments in a career that is in constant (r)evolution. At the eve of turning 60 (in August 2002) Caetano Veloso keeps on fascinating and seducing  audiences of every country and language. - CDs by Caetano Veloso at Amazon.com.