Feb 07 2008

Luiz Simas: Cafuné

Reinventing Himself


CafunéLuiz Simas is a tireless artist who seems to know how to reinvent himself with each new recording he makes. He has played choro (New Chorinhos from Brazil), he has done pop (Recipe for Rhythm), he also had a very introspective piano album (Impromptu) and followed all of those with a live recording (Luiz Simas Live from New York City) in which he played a wide range of Brazilian music including pieces by Ernesto Nazareth and Tom Jobim. Coming back to original music, Luiz Paulo Simas (yes, he’s adding his middle name to his artistic name) now presents Cafuné.

Explaining the album title is probably a close indication of the music we hear. Cafuné is a Portuguese word to indicate the action of an affectionate and soft scratching on someone’s head, sometimes with the intent to bring him/her into sleep. Though the music in the album is far from making one sleepy, the idea of affection coupled with fun is what best describes the music we hear.

Produced by Luiz and recorded in Brazil and the U.S., Cafuné is full of wonders. Luiz’ presence on vocals, piano, Hammond organ and keyboards is enhanced by a terrific and varied line-up of musicians. Featured in the album are Romero Lubambo (guitar), Cláudio Nucci (guitar), Rob Curto (accordion), the late Márcio Montarroyos (trumpet), Cláudio Infante (tablas, percussion) and more than a dozen others. All music is written by Luiz and covers the rich musical tradition of Brazilian music. You will hear samba, up tempo and soft Brazilian jazz, ballads, forró, instrumentals and vocals. Each track brings a new discovery.

The album opener, “Cabelos Brancos,” is very lively and up tempo track with an optimistic message of living the present and not leaving things for later. Along the same lines of optimism, “Se o Papa Dissesse” is a soothing melody with sharp lyrics about understanding and unity of all creeds and faiths and peoples. The lyrics so timely sing about a changing world of “a faith all-embracing.” But seriousness is not always the theme in Luiz’ music. Luiz SimasThe swinging “Sambinha do Chinês” shows a lighter side of Luiz. He talks about life and different points of view from our “cousins” on the other side of the world: the Chinese, the Japanese, the Tibetan, etc. He is also almost funk in “Normal,” a song that questions what normal is and what it is not. So what if there is violin in samba or cavaquinho in an operetta? The Hammond organ he plays in the track is really awesome and gives the arrangement a different and pleasing edge. He is also experimental, particularly in “Panelas,” a song featuring solely pots, pans and other kitchen utensils used as percussion. As for the title track, “Cafuné,” Rob Curto’s accordion is hot. The song is infectious.

One of the best tracks in the album is “Meu Rio.” Márcio Montarroyos’ added trumpet and Romero Lubambo’s acoustic guitar solos are excellent. The nice ebb and flow in the song arrangement, particularly with Luiz’ piano is a winning feature. The lyrics are, of course, a homage to Rio de Janeiro and its sun, Carnaval, beaches, love, soccer and everything Rio is famous for. Luiz does not hide the fact that these are hard and tough times for Rio, and when he sings the final verses with their wishful desire for a peaceful Rio, he is unapologetically certain that these rough times are a passing phase. Another memorable track is the piano and voice love song “A Rede, a Brisa e o Som do Mar.” Luiz sings from the bottom of his heart. Take advantage that the liner notes include both original and English translations of all songs and use this track to sweep your loved one off his/her feet. They won’t resist the poetry and melody in this song.

Like a chameleon, Luiz Simas seems to have found yet another vein of inspiration for a brand new release. The music in Cafuné is reinvigorating with captivating melodies and contemporary lyrics. Luiz is reinventing himself.

To learn more about the artist and hear sample tracks, please visit Luiz Simas on the web.



Luiz Paulo Simas
Lydjul Records LJR198 (2007)
Time: 64’58”


All music by Luiz Paulo Simas.

  1. Cabelos Brancos
  2. Se o Papa Dissesse
  3. Sambinha do Chinês
  4. Meu Rio
  5. A Chama
  6. A Rede, a Brisa e o Som do Mar
  7. Normal
  8. Panelas
  9. A Revolta dos Mares
  10. Cafuné
  11. Sorvete Colorê
  12. Sempre Assim
  13. Apareci por Aqui