Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Matuto in Mama Afrika

Afropop Worldwide interviewed Clay Ross of Matuto about the ensemble's American Music Abroad tour:

When you look deeper into it, from the perspective of American music, the broad perspective of American music, there’s a shared story there. And more sort of superficially, Americans have been adopting Brazilian rhythms and Brazilian music for years, I mean, bossa nova was a huge craze! Charlie Byrd, who is a great musician, and Stan Getz, who made the quintessential American/Brazilian fusion record with Girl from Ipanema… That whole thing, all of that happened because of the US State Department. Charlie Byrd was on a State Department tour in Brazil, playing jazz music, when he heard the bossa nova rhythm, and then he brought it back to Stan Getz, and that led to this huge phenomenon in the US of bossa nova, the popularity of bossa nova in the US. Which even led Elvis Presley to record a song called, “Bossa Nova Baby,” like this fusion of rock and bossa nova. And that was in the ‘60s! So this conversation has been going on… And then you look at the tropicalia movement in Brazil, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Ze, all these incredible musicians who we really love and are inspired by, they were just trying to do what the Beatles do! They were trying to use Brazilian music and play rock and roll, and incorporate rock and roll into their Brazilian sound. And then furthermore, rock and roll, the British invasion, is a reflection of American roots music coming back from Britain, from the Old World. So it’s really interesting to me, at the end of the day, it really just comes down to, is it good or not? That’s the only reason the State Department would even send musicians out! I’m thinking that’s why they liked our music, and why they might even overlook the fact that maybe it’s strongly Brazilian. From one perspective, yeah, it is strongly Brazilian, but it’s also really good! It’s smart, and it’s joyful, and that’s the type of thing that the US State Department wants to promote abroad, you know?

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