Mar 16 2008

Vinícius Cantuária: Cymbals

The Simplicity of the Cymbal


Vinícius Cantuária: Cymbals

It’s mostly outside Brazil that the news about a new cd from Vinícius Cantuária is celebrated. Nevertheless, the multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer from Manaus, Amazonas (1951) stays very close to the music from his native country.

Carlos Vinícius Silva Cantuária was six years old when he and the family moved from Manaus to Rio de Janeiro. There he grew up listening fanatically to the music of The Beatles. During his twenties, Vinícius played as drummer/percussionist in various bands, while he also started to accompany famous Brazilian stars like Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. He worked with Caetano for about eight years and composed one of his greatest hit songs for him, “Lua e Estrela” (1981). In 1982 Vinícius released his first (self titled) solo album, followed by a new album each year till 1986. His music was classified as pop music with influences from various corners of the world like tango, reggae, blues and rock. Artists like Caetano Veloso, Lulu Santos and Dulce Quental gladly participated on his good selling albums. Whether he wanted or not, Vinícius was on his way to become a true pop star. After joining Chico Buarque as a percussionist on his World tour (“Francisco”), Vinícius spent about a year in Portugal (1989). Back in Brazil he released two more albums, including one with the band Tigres de Bengala (1993). But that was it; his ambition was not to become a pop star in Brazil. So in 1994 he permanently moved to New York, where he was able to work in peace and quietness on his own style. He got involved in the Big Apple’s alternative jazz scene, working with illustrious musicians as Arto Lindsay, Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and Laurie Anderson. Vinícius CantuáriaIt’s funny that the longer Vinícius resided in New York, the more he got involved in the music from his native country Brazil. He names Antônio Carlos Jobim, pianist Bill Evans, trumpeter/singer Chet Baker and Miles Davis as his most important influences. Those influences resulted in own style with surprising nuances.

On Cymbals we can hear where Vinícius Cantuária has been working to. Jazz, samba and bossa nova form the building site for his music, and just like in his younger years, there are clear winks to other Latin music styles. As the cd title suggests, Vinícius seems to explore the simple sound of the cymbals on this cd. On half of the tracks he explicitly mentions his performance on cymbals and hi-hats. The subtle guitar style harmonizes in a perfect way with the sound of the cymbals. It’s the featured basis for the music on this album. With the addition of strategic chosen guest musicians, Vinícius Cantuária is able to express his musical thoughts in the most beautiful way.

One of those guests is jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. He’s featured on the fabulous rendition of “Você Está Sumindo”. This almost forgotten samba classic (1943), composed by Geraldo Pereira and Jorge de Castro and made famous by Ciro Monteiro, gets an authentic and joyful treatment. Vinícius adds to the nostalgic samba feeling with the use of a matchbox (a trademark of Ciro’s performances) among his percussion instruments. Together with his 7-string guitar and the melodic piano of Brad Mehldau this song turns out to be one of the highlights of the album. “O Batuque,” composed with another living Brazilian master in the US, percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, is a sad moment of homesickness. Longing for the diversity in Brazilian music, the Afro-Cuban influences of the Amazon music culture and the reggae influence in the samba-reggae are in contrast with the anonymity of living in New York. To suit the action to the word, a samba groove (by percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos) leads the song to an end. “Tua Cara” is a bossa that features a Stan Getz echoing tenor sax solo by David Binney. “Champs de Mars” is a typical Cantuária ballad on which the guitarist demonstrates his unique guitar style, hardly touching the strings of the acoustic guitar with jazzy accompaniment on the electric guitar. The album’s opener “Galope” has a deep samba rhythm under a complicated pop song. Violinist Jenny Scheinman gives the song a nostalgic turn against a playful guitar solo. “Você e Eu” has the unmistakable Cantuária bossa nova signature, with beautiful notes from Brad Mehldau on the piano. Jobim’s “Vivo Sonhando” sounds beautiful, too, with Eric Friedlander on cello. However the most beautiful moment comes with the solo performance of “To You,” a miniature co-written with Naná Vasconcelos: only the acoustic guitar and subtle use of cymbals. What a way to close the album!

Vinícius Cantuária managed to bring into practise a lot of the musical knowledge he picked up along his long career. And again he manages to surprise with a special feature; this time with the very authentic and humble use of the cymbals.

To hear sample tracks and also learn about the artist, please visit Vinícius at his website.



Vinícius Cantuária
Naïve WN145133 (2007)
Time: 41’05”


All compositions by Vinícius Cantuária, except where noted.

  1. Galope
  2. Você e Eu
  3. Chuva
  4. Vivo Sonhando (Antônio Carlos Jobim)
  5. Você Está Sumindo (Geraldo Pereira – Jorge de Castro)
  6. Prantos
  7. O Batuque (Vinícius Cantuária – Naná Vasconcelos)
  8. Ominira (Vinícius Cantuária – Angelique Kidjo)
  9. Tua Cara
  10. Champs de Mars
  11. To You (Vinícius Cantuária – Naná Vasconcelos)