All about “zii e zie”

Posted on Mar 26, 2010

“The Brazilian master remains in a league of his own. Forty years after injecting a rock beat into Brazilian pop (and earning the disapproval of the country’s military rulers in the process), Veloso has returned to similar territory… fans won’t be disappointed.” —Times (UK)

Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso’s 41st album, zii e zie, released last year in South America and Europe, has already earned him a Latin Grammy for 2009 Best Singer-Songwriter album; Nonesuch releases the record in the United States on March 30, 2010. The samba-inspired album’s title is an Italian phrase for “uncles and aunts” that the singer/songwriter liked for the way it looks and sounds, and selected “because of the freedom of the mysterious choice.” Veloso returns to the United States in April for six performances, including dates in New York City and Los Angeles (complete dates below).

On zii e zie, which was produced by Pedro Sa and Caetano’s son Moreno Veloso, the singer is joined by the same youthful trio he employed on 2007’s Cê, an album of rock-oriented tracks. “We are people of different generations sharing similar musical and human interests,” Veloso says. David Byrne said of Cê in Artforum, “Veloso has found a sparse, post-rock beauty in which strange yet simple rock instrumentation is juxtaposed with softly seething vocals.”

For zii e zie, Veloso reverses the equation. Here, samba is the foundation, filtered through a rock sensibility. Veloso calls this approach “transamba”—”as if it were samba transcending itself,” he said in an interview. His subject matter, as always, can be intensely personal, but he also takes a broader view of the world at large. As Veloso says of the lyrics, “Mostly they focus on Rio. But even there, they go from the favelas to Leblon, from Lapa to the beach, from Chico Alves to Los Hermanos, from its typical anonymous characters to its atypical celebrities. But they look further still: to Guantánamo, to the caverns in Afghanistan, to Washington, DC.”

Says London’s Guardian, “The songs are intimate and surprising, with sudden bursts of electric guitar transforming the easy-going ‘Falso Leblon,’ and handclaps and funk guitar lines matched against the laid-back vocals on ‘A Cor Amarela.’ Best of all, there’s the half-spoken ‘A Base de Guantánamo,’ which sounds like a classic and angry protest song even if you can’t speak Portuguese.”

Tour Dates

Thursday, April 8 Terminal 5, New York, NY
Saturday, April 10 Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, Washington, DC
Monday, April 12 Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA
Thursday, April 15 The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, April 17 Nob Hill Masonic Center, San Francisco, CA
Tuesday, April 20 The Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theatre, Miami Beach, FL

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