Vinicius Cantuária, Azucar, Thursday, March 15

Live Shots: South by Southwest 2001

Vinicius Cantuária

Azucar, Thursday, March 15

You know multi-instrumentalist Vinicius Cantuária has both chops and soul when he can enlist the help of world-class musicians such as Joey Baron, Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, and David Byrne to play on Vinicius, his latest for Transparent Music. The Brazilian Cantuária is known as a singer, guitarist, and percussionist, in part for his decade-long work with Brazilian music mandarin Caetano Veloso. The fiftyish Cantuária, who now calls New York City home, is also known as a composer for acts like Gilberto Gil, also penning Veloso's million-selling tune "Lua e Estrela." That said, it's always interesting to see who shows up for these just-under-the-radar gigs, especially at Azucar, Austin's premiere Latin dance club. Cantuária's opening number began slowly with no introduction, like a rehearsal's first number. The song only gradually rose above the chatter of the comfortably sized crowd, one that easily had the highest beautiful lady quotient in town. The second selection, a linear jazzy accelerated tune, demonstrated that Cantuária's recent move to the Big Apple has been fruitful; his music deals with tension in a subdued, but effective, way. Here, his complex, enticing rhythms were composed by string bass, trumpet, drums, and Cantuária's classic bossa nova vox coupled with his warmly toned electric jazz guitar. It was all very Brazilian, with sweetly lyrical Portuguese vocals and a complete sense of melody. Most in attendance were packed around the stage, cheering songs they recognized, although a few alpha males couldn't quite pull themselves away from the college b-ball playoffs on TV, ruining part of a song with hollers when Missouri beat Georgia. About a third of the way into his set, Cantuária jumped into a free funky number, followed by an angular composition you could very nearly hear melodic guitar deconstructuralist Marc Ribot getting a hold of. This was succeeded by more tunes, each as good or better than the last. Next was Austin's grupo grande La Tribu, who cooked the house in a closing set. A fine showing for SXSW's Latin scene.

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