MENU Gilles Peterson Presents Sonzeira

Gilles Peterson Presents Sonzeira

The Sonzeira project was conceived in 2014 to explore Brazil’s deep musical diversity. ‘Brasil Bam Bam Bam’ collected together a cast of the country’s musical allstars to celebrate the different strands of its musical make-up.

In 2016, ‘Tam Tam Tam Reimagined’ saw Peterson shift his focus to one record in particular. Bringing together a unique moment in Brazil’s history with contemporary dance rhythms and production, it’s another chapter in the Sonzeira project’s celebration and re-appraisal of Brazil’s music culture.

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The Sonzeira project was conceived in 2014 to explore Brazil’s deep-running musical diversity, Gilles Peterson set up camp in Rio de Janeiro with young UK production associates Sam Shepherd (Floating Points), Dilip Harris, Rob Gallagher (2 Banks of 4) and Kassin from Rio collective Orquestra Imperial. Together, they set about recording all-new material with a stellar line-up of Brazilian talent, under the name Sonzeira. The result, ‘Brasil Bam Bam Bam’, is an inspirational portrait of a nation in sound. At its heart are mesmerising vocal performances from superstars young and old, including ‘City of God’ actor and singer Seu Jorge, and the grande dame of samba, 76-year-old powerhouse Elza Soares.

“Brazil’s music culture is massive,” says Gilles. “There’s the North – Bahia, Recife, the afro-brazilian sound. There’s batucada, the heavy sambas. Then bossa nova – Tom Jobim and all that history. There’s baile funk. There’s Tropicalia and the more soulful, funky scene championed by groups like Banda Black Rio, Trio Mocoto and icons like Gilberto Gil. Such a huge amount of stuff to fit in. I wanted to try and cover it all – to make a kind of Buena Vista meets club culture, but to keep it sonically very modern.”

From the haunting rhythms of opening track ‘Where Hana Hides’, composed and played by world-renowned percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, to the thundering carnival drums of ‘Sambaio’ featuring musician Seu Jorge; the raw emotion of Brazilian icon Elza Soares singing national standard ‘Aquarela do Brasil’ for the first time ever on disc, to Emanuelle Araujo’s stunning electronic bossa take on the UK jazz-funk hit ‘Southern Freeez’; ‘Brasil Pandeiro’, a duet between acclaimed songwriter Arlindo Cruz and the effortlessly glamorous Araujo, to the party vibes of ‘Xi Ba Ba’ – Sonzeira – ‘Brasil Bam Bam Bam’ captures the core of that Brazilian spirit – celebration in the face of adversity.

The next chapter is ‘Tam Tam Tam Reimagined’, which focuses on a key moment in the country’s history, with a record made at a crucial moment serving as the jumping off point for an open-ended project of musical reimagining. Crucial to Gilles’ love of Brazil has been collecting its records; of all those records released in Brazil, however, the search for one in particular has taken on a real significance over the past couple of years: José Prates’ ‘Tam… Tam… Tam…!’ An accompaniment to a stage production financed by the Brazil Culture Ministry, it was created to promote the country’s culture to the world. Hearing the album – including its prototype of ‘Mas Que Nada’ that became a Sergio Mendes mega anthem – through Ed Motta during the making of the last Sonzeira album, it sparked a long hunt to get his hands on a copy (including a plea live on Channel 4 news).

With a mint copy successfully procured – not long after Jonny Trunk’s re-issue championed by Record Collector mag – it was taken as a starting point for creating something new. Working with production associates Will Horrocks from UK bass-meddling duo LV and Rob Gallagher from 2 Banks of 4 – along with appearances from drumming prodigy Moses Boyd and Kassin from Rio’s Orquestra Imperial – they picked out phrases and snippets to build songs and tracks around.

Released in 1958, ‘Tam… Tam… Tam…!’ celebrates a distinctly Afro-Brazilian culture that was later suppressed following a coup in the early 1960s that led to a military dictatorship. From sparkling recreations of the atmospheric original to reverb-laden dub, the album takes a magpie-like approach to re-interpreting the most exciting aspects of Prates’ postcard of Brazil to the world. Tam Tam Tam Reimagined forms another part of the Sonzeira project’s aim to take apart and reassemble the pieces of what makes Brazil’s music so unique.

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  • CD / Digital 09/03/2015


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