Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jards Macalé and Jorge Mautner

30 March 2010

The best known protagonists of the Tropicália movement are the musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil – both exiled to London in the late 1960s by the Brazilian military dictatorship. While we were in Sao Paulo we were lucky enough to catch a concert by two of their contemporaries Jards Macalé and Jorge Mautner at Sesc Pompéia. Both singers are now about 70 years old and are clearly revered by what was a packed and enthusiastic audience. The Tropicália movement was based on ‘antropofagia’ – cultural cannibalism, taking in influences from a range of genres and creating something new and unique. Though undoubtedly revolutionary at the time I’m afraid that, to me, the music now sounds a little tame – gentle, beautiful and soothing like bossa nova without the beat. Not being able to understand the Portuguese lyrics is clearly a major hindrance in listening to songs with a strong political message. But it was fascinating to watch the rapturous reaction of the crowd who were mouthing the words to many of the songs and quick to their feet to give a standing ovation to these two legendary performers.

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