Music covers sambas to baião beats and rhythms of N. Africa
TORONTO – Toronto-born and of Portuguese descent, multi-instrumentalist and composer Louis Simão releases his much-anticipated, debut solo album A LUZ (The Light), on Wednesday, November 9th at Burdock, 1184 Bloor Street West, Toronto.
Doors open at 8:30 pm and music starts at 9:00 pm. A modern recording, yet steeped in traditional Brazilian and Portuguese rhythm and melody, the album features the beautiful Patricia Cano on vocals and Simão’s massive skills on accordion, bass, vocals, guitar and percussion. Accompanying him on stage will be Luis (Luisito) Obregoso, David French, Rich Brown, Bill McBirnie and Marito Marques, with guest appearances by Patricia Cano, Jessica Lloyd and Wagner Petrilli. F
Louis Simão has been composing, performing and recording as a multi-instrumentalist in a variety of genres for 20 years. Known for his accompaniment on many other musicians’ recordings, with his proficiency on accordion, bass and more, here he does it all on his own recording.
From sambas to baião beats (from the northeast of Brazil) and rhythms influenced by North Africa, these are the foundational elements for Simão’s passionate and soulful debut A LUZ (The Light). Joined by the best cross-genre musicians Toronto has to offer, Simão takes the listener on a journey through the sounds of the Portuguese-speaking world, as experienced through the life of this first-generation Canadian son of Portuguese immigrants.
The album’s centred upon the theme of duality – light and dark, life and death, and in particular, the passing of Simão’s father and the birth of his daughter.
The journey begins with “Um Cantador (A Troubadour),” written with the healing power of music in mind, and the idea that songs transcend the physical plane and illuminate the world. Simão wrote this pretty samba – fuelled by a gently rolling samba guitar – and lyrics are by Wagner Petrilli. Patricia Cano sings beautifully, and the jazzy harmonies delight the ear.
The title track was developed out of track two, the instrumental version, “A Luz (Da Partida) – The Light (Of Departure),” which was already finished by the time Simão’s daughter was born. However, a few days after her birth, Petrilli presented him with the lyrics. While the instrumental version was intended as a meditation on death – with a beautiful and haunting , and the unique opening combo of sax, guitar, and an accordion (reminiscent of the brilliant Astor Piazzola) – the lyrics are the opposite. In Portuguese, the term for giving birth is “dar a luz,” which literally means “give to the light.” Given the beauty of the lyrics and the uncanny timing of their creation, the song “A Luz (The Light)” is more about the birth of his daughter.
If we need miracles to prove the existence of a divine, higher power, “Confluência (Convergence)” is about the unlikely merging of opposites and how that in itself is miraculous. It features a lively, North African rhythmic workout, with a soulful R&B vocal feel, blended with a Latin Jazz vibe. The wordless sax/vocal break is utterly compelling, as is the electric fretless bass solo (by Simão himself) that follows it.
“Retratos, Cartas e Cinzas (Portraits, Letters and Ashes)” is inspired by the Brazilian choro (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈʃoɾu], “cry” or “lament”), and the great composer and guitarist, Guinga. This guitar showcase underscores Simão’s compositional power as well as his fingerpicking skills.
“Lundu da Figueira (Lundu of the Fig Tree)” is a traditional Portuguese song with Angolan roots. The Lundu was an early precursor of both the Brazilian choro and Portuguese fado. Simão’s interpretation of this rhythm, with the sprightly guitar intro, brilliantly approximates the flow of a babbling brook, and never lets up. This is the genuine sound of happiness, without being saccharine.
Hidden inside the melody of “Passaritos Fritos (Little Fried Birds)” is the “Leva-Leva!,” a fisherman’s song from the region of Algarve, where Simão was told by an elder to go to the small villages “where they eat little fried birds” in order to hear the most authentic expression of the corridinho (accordion music typical to the region). This song is a showcase for Simão’s impressive accordion skills, set to a Northeastern Brazilian baião beat that’ll keep your feet moving.
Simão, alone on accordion and fretless bass for the slow, short waltz “O Medronheiro (Pliny The Elder),” captures the queasy feeling of being quite drunk – Medronho is a berry common to the Iberian Peninsula that Simao’s father ate as a young boy, and then experienced that drunken feeling.
Buoyed by a passionate vocal and captivating string quartet piece that leads into this beat-heavy Latin jazz number, “Flor Amargurada (Bitter Flower)” is about a woman who suffers in the city in which she lives. In her profound sadness and longing to be free of melancholy (saudade), she dreams of the country.
Wrapped in the imagery of shipwrecks, sobbing sailors and ethereal quays, “Três Anos (Three Years)” highlights gorgeous strings (by the Aleksandar Gajic String Quartet) that move sadly and sweetly throughout this heartfelt ballad lamenting the loss of Simão’s father, with an impeccable saxophone solo.
Written as a challenge by a friend to compose a song for peace in 24 hours, the peace Simão chose in “A Nossa Paz (Our Peace)” is that felt when he looks at an old photograph of his dad. Simão’s guitar tingles in this percolating piece, that once again features the beautiful, resonant voice of Patricia Cano, and harmonies that are simply irresistsible. – CINEWS/SPEAKMusic