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Vinicius Cantuaria: Psychedelic Rio


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Vinicius Cantuaria: Psychedelic Rio
Formed in Rio in 1968 when he was 17 and Brazil was under military rule, O Terço (The Third/Rosary) was singer-songwriter and guitarist Vinicius Cantuaria's first working band. He played drums with the trio, which was, as he put it, "under the influence" of Crosby Stills & Nash. One can hear other psychedelic-folk-rock influences as well. With their first release in 1970 (O Terço, Forma), the group quickly became popular, but—after two successful albums—he left them for greener pastures, joining up with Caetano Veloso in 1973, with whom he first recorded "Rio Negro" (Rio Negro, Chorus Estudio, 1991), the lead track on Psychedelic Rio.

Cantuária has recorded most of Psychedelic Rio's selections previously, as a leader or side person: "É Preciso Perdoar" (Cesária Évora and Veloso with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Red Hot + Rio, Antilles, 1996), "Uirapuru" (Vinicius, Transparent, 2001), "Berlin" (Samba Carioca, Naïve, 2010), "Humanos" (Indio de Apartamento, Naïve, 2012) and "Insensatez" (Vinicius Canta Antonio Carlos Jobim, Song X Jazz, 2015).

Part of his idea in creating Psychedelic Rio was "to turn the music on its head," exchanging a bossa nova-style quietude for something that "demands to be played loud." But it can also be thought of as a return to Cantuária's roots, a retrospective of sorts. Like O Terço, the ensemble here is described as a "power trio" (guitar, bass, drums), but it incorporates the sophisticated jazz-inflected aesthetic he has cultivated in collaboration with diverse musicians over the years, in Rio and especially in New York, where he has lived and worked since 1996.

Reflecting on his musical journey in a 2018 interview ("The Many Changes of Vinicius Cantuária," Afropop Worldwide), Cantuária spoke of "a big white wall" as "the idea for my career." He explained it this way: "I invite some friends to just put some colors on the white wall. Bill Frisell comes with the blue—boom! Then Brad Mehldau plays with red—boom! And in the end, you don't have no more white wall." A quiet core, an acoustic sensibility, remains, even in an electronic milieu. Examining the primary influences he acknowledges—Miles Davis, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bill Evans, Chet Baker and Karlheinz Stockhausen—it makes sense.

The musicians Cantuária invited to paint on his wall for Psychedelic Rio are Italian, but both have spent time living and learning in Brazil. Bassist Paolo Andriolo approached Cantuária at one of his concerts in Rio. Shortly thereafter, the pair began playing together in Cantuária's apartment and drummer Roberto Rossi was introduced into the mix. Rossi had played percussion on Andriolo's first solo album, Rio Funk (Azoto, 2009). The trio clicked and, within a few weeks, they moved the jam to Jupiter Studios to begin working on the album.

"Nossa Estrada" (Our Road), the penultimate track, is the heart of the album—beating in triple time—and the only new composition of Cantuária's on it (YouTube, bottom of this page). Rafael Meninão's wistful accordion lends a subtle Brazilian sertanejo flavor to the performance. Singing in a low warm voice over his own simple strummed acoustic-guitar accompaniment—with his electric guitar overlaid in expressive shards while Andriolo's bass pulls at the strings from below—Cantuária contemplates a long love and a long career, "a long time spent together on this road where flowers and thorns bloom." Many times, "we think about throwing everything away but we don't give up, we continue on, side by side, receiving, delivering, learning, teaching."

Track Listing

Rio Negro; É Preciso Perdoar; Uirapuru; Berlin; Humanos; Insensatez; Nossa Estrada; Verde Mata.


Additional Instrumentation

Roberto Rossi: drums.

Album information

Title: Psychedelic Rio | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

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