been a long and winding road, but a necessary voyage for Brazilian
born Rodrigo Amarante to gain confidence both as a singer and
songwriter. He began as a peripheral member of the already established
group Hermanos --Spanish for brothers -- eventually taking on
more and more responsibility in respect to writing and arranging.
Since 2014 he’s been performing as a solo singer accompanying
himself on guitar and occasionally the piano.
been studying journalism when he was invited by the group Hermanos
to provide back-up vocals. From there on, there was no mistaking
his musical gifts. A few years later, with the same band, he wrote
and recorded “Sentimental,” which proved to be his
the next ten years he concentrated on composing while honing his
instrumental and orchestral skills. His tireless dedication and
self-belief culminated in his first solo album Cavalo
(2014). To his surprise, the album was critically received and
paved the way to a triumphant and life-transforming international
tour. He discovered that voice and guitar could create a particular
space and ambience that would appeal to a global audience looking
to escape the chaos and cacophony of daily life. That audiences
find his music balming and medicinal speaks directly to the increasing
presence of stress in everyday life.
to contend with the marketing pressures of record companies and
producers, as well as the heavy-handed hegemony of Rap and Hip-hop,
finding one’s self in one’s music, and staying there
is easier said than done, especially if your unplugged sound is
but a whisper amidst the anger and protest that characterizes
much of today’s music.
first strikes the ear (ever so gently) during an Amarante concert
is its ambient intimacy, the understated manner in which the singer’s
mellifluous voice invokes soft breezes and samba, buoyed by sophisticated
guitar accompaniment that
both feathers and floats the melody and lyric. In his own manner,
and on his own terms which have become his calling card, Amarante
creates an alternative world every bit as compelling as the biggest
names in music.
art, not just music, arises in response to not only geographic
specificity, but to the ever-changing present (code for our brave
new digital universe). The art product is usually a mirror of
or reaction to the world as it turns, as well as a much needed
glorious escape from it. Reducing the Amarante sound to its core
meaning, what the world is lacking, or “what the world needs
now,” is respite, sanctuary, a cozy place the harried individual
can crawl into and reconnect with the calm and stillness that
has been silenced beneath the wheels of progress, a niche where
the individual can gather his thoughts and begin a healing process
that will re-acquaint him with his essential self.
However unintentional, Amarante’s music aspires to communion.
In its plaintive understatement, his music invokes prayer, holiness,
in F-sharp major contrast to an unhinged world that has lost its
way in the minefields of modernity.
compositions exemplify Brazil’s unique contribution to the
world’s music. Never far from jazz, the music’s identity
is synonymous with its dizzying array of complex augmented chords
that are stretched out in long, lush willowy sequences that both
soothe and excite the ear, generating inter-penetrating harmonic
structures that magically resolve, leaving the enchanted listener
perfectly paused in the pulchitrude of freshly minted soundscapes.
In terms of its flow and the interweaving of voice and instrument,
there isn’t a music in the world that hasn’t come
under the influence of Brazil.
and more listeners are discovering that Amarante’s signature
sound is not so much a critique of but a positive rejoinder to
“half the perfect world;” and as a happy and much
deserved consequence, he is no longer a secret outside of Brazil.
June 27th @l’Astral, he will be performing at one of the
great music events on the planet: the 40th edition of the Montreal
International Jazz Festival. No matter what your
musical background, an evening with Rodrigo Amarante will persuade
you that his very particular takes on life are no less right for
the times than the popular music of the day.