The iconic vocalist rides a new Brazil
wave back to Japan for his first tour in eight years
| courtesy of JEC
Thanks to a large Japanese-Brazilian community,
events like the Asakusa Samba Carnival, and homegrown stars
such as bossa nova singer Lisa Ono, Japan is no stranger to
Brazilian music. When bossa nova innovator João Gilberto
finally made his first visit to Japan two years ago, it was
like a homecoming, with the audience singing along to trademark
songs such as Bim-Bom.
Calls soon went up for a long overdue visit by the only slightly
less well-known Caetano Veloso, who is particularly popular
here among the key 20-40-year-old urban female demographic.
Promoter JEC responded with an ambitious tour that includes
one night at the venerable Tokyo Geijutsu Gekijo and two nights
at the glistening Tokyo International Forum.
Virtually synonymous with MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira),
Veloso is not a traditionalist like Gilberto, but instead
has cut an increasingly large profile on the international
stage with English-language recordings and collaborations
with US pop stars like David Byrne.
Hailing from Brazils Bahia region, Veloso came under
the spell of João Gilbertos bossa nova in the
50s, moving to Rio de Janeiro in the early 60s
to launch his career. Blessed with an unearthly voice that
possesses both male and female characteristics, Veloso won
a lyric-writing contest for his song Um Dia, and
he soon came to represent the new wave of MPB that followed
At a time when Brazil was under military rule, Veloso was
an outspoken leftist, earning the wrath of government, which
arrested him and sent him into exile in the UK from 1968 until
1972. Veloso was also a musical experimentalist, combining
the laid-back rhythms of bossa nova with electrified jazz
and rock to create a new style, Tropicália.
Veloso returned to Brazil as a bona fide superstar, but he
also began to create a reputation outside the country, selling
out three nights at the Public Theater in New York during
his first American tour in 1983. With the non-import release
in North America of Estrangeiro in 1989 and Tropicália
2 with fellow countryman Gilberto Gil in 1993, Veloso established
himself as a major star in the English-speaking world.
Most recently, Veloso issued his second English-language album,
A Foreign Sound, a sprawling 22-song effort that explores
with aplomb not only standards like Summertime,
but also Nirvanas Come As You Are and Bob
Dylans Its Alright, Ma (Im Only Bleeding).
Veloso has also recorded an unhurried, understated version
of Michael Jacksons Billie Jean that resonates
eerily amid Jacksons current troubles.
In tandem with the tour, Universal Classics and Jazz is releasing
three albums of Veloso material. Caetano Lovers is a compilation
of favorite tracks selected by Japanese stars including Lisa
Ono and Cornelius. Caetano Sings is a new best-of collection
intended to prime the market. And Bicho Baile Show is a live
recording of a 1978 concert being released in single-CD form
for the first time.
In his first Japan tour in eight years, Veloso, 62, is slated
to perform songs from A Foreign Sound as well as the original
compositions in Portuguese for which he is best known in this
Tokyo Geijutsu Gekijo, May 23, and
Tokyo International Forum, May 24-25. See listings for details.
with METROPOLIS readers at http://forum.japantoday.com