From Brazil and Beyond: a World of Music Around the Bay

Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso performs in the sidelines of the Rio+20 environmental summit on June 13, 2012 at the Fort of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; ARI VERSIANI/AFP/GettyImages

Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso performs in the sidelines of the Rio+20 environmental summit on June 13, 2012 at the Fort of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; ARI VERSIANI/AFP/GettyImages

FAll arts preview 2014For the better part of 100 years, the world has had a love affair with Brazilian music, starting with the samba, segueing to bossa nova, and pivoting to modern rhythms. But Brazilian music has always been its own mix of musical forms, with influences from Africa, the United States, Europe, and other regions. And it’s this beautiful cocktail of origins and influences (and potential influences) that is thankfully on display this fall in the Bay Area.

Eliana Elias
Eliane Elias

Eliana Elias

Sept. 11
SFJAZZ Center, 201 Franklin Street, SF
Tickets and information

With her mesmerizing piano playing and sultry, jazzy voice, Eliane Elias is the epitome of Brazilian cool. At an early age, Elias worked with Brazilian master lyricist Vinicius de Moraes, co-writer of “The Girl From Ipanema,” and she has become a stalwart herself, comfortable singing in beautifully accented English or her native Portuguese. Now based in New York, Elias interprets American and Brazilian standards like few  other singers of her generation.

Kabul Dreams
Kabul Dreams

Kabul Dreams

Sept. 14
Yoshi’s San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore Street, SF
Tickets and information

In the song “Air,” when singer Sulyman Qardash croons, “Bombs and explosions are not scaring me. They are just playing with my heart, some times,” he’s referring to personal experience. Qardash’s rock ‘n’ roll group, Kabul Dreams, is based in Afghanistan, where it has faced death threats for its blend of American-influenced music that appeals to young minds. The Taliban is still a major presence in Afghanistan. In the United States, Qardash and Kabul Dreams, which bills itself as “Afghanistan’s first rock band,” can perform their songs as they intended: loudly and proudly, in both English and Dari.

Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso

Caetano Veloso

Sept. 19
Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway Avenue, Oakland
Tickets and information

Caetano Veloso is the gold standard for Brazilian music – a guitar-playing singer and composer who in the late 1960s helped originate Tropicalia, which fused African-influenced Brazilian music with rock music from the United States (and which, in turn, influenced American artists). These days, Veloso plays it slow and fast, his voice and his raw emotion keeping a steady cadence to songs that his longtime fans have memorized and that new listeners will swear are as vital as anything they’ve heard on American Idol.

Toumani Diabate and son
Toumani Diabate and son

Toumani Diabate and Sidiki Diabate

Sept. 27-28
SFJAZZ Center, 201 Franklin Street, SF; Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University, Palo Alto
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Toumani Diabate’s name is synonymous with the kora, the 21-string, West African instrument that, under Diabate’s mastery, produces sounds that are entirely transportive and virtually hypnotic. Hailing from the West African country of Mali, the Grammy Award-winning Diabate has recorded with Icelandic marvel Bjork, American blues musician Taj Mahal, and Brazilian artists Arnaldo Antunes and Edgard Scandurra. In the Bay Area, he’ll share a stage with his son Sidiki, who represents the 72nd generation of kora player in the family’s lineage. Besides playing kora, Sidiki does hip-hop. Tradition and experimentation will take center stage at the Diabates’ Bay Area shows.

Chuchito Valdes
Chuchito Valdes

Chuchito Valdes

Sept. 28
Yoshi’s Oakland, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
Tickets and information

Like the Diabate family of Mali, the Valdes family of Cuba is passing on its musically gifted genes from one generation to the next. Instead of the kora, it’s the piano that Chuchito Valdes has inherited a knack for. Like his father, Chucho,  Chuchito can take a keyboard and turn it into a kaleidoscope of competing and complementary volleys that lift the audience up, down, and sideways. Chuchito’s late grandfather Bebo was thrilling audiences on the piano well into his eighties, and Chuco is still performing at a high level in his seventies. Chuchito is only in his late 40s, and in so many ways, he’s just getting started in his musical quest to extend the family dynasty.

Zakir Hussain
Zakir Hussain

Zakir Hussain

Oct. 9-12
SFJAZZ Center, 201 Franklin Street, SF
Tickets and information

Tabla player Zakir Hussain was playing “world music” long before the term emerged in record stores in the early 1980s. Ten years earlier, he recorded with Mickey Hart, and then founded, with jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, the group Shakti. During his residency at the SFJAZZ Center, Hussain performs with Indian violinist Kumaresh Rajagopalan and Indian veena player Jayanthi Kumaresh (Oct. 9), jams with American jazz drummer Eric Harland and American saxophonist Charles Lloyd in a reunion of their group called Sangam (Oct. 10-11), then pays tribute to Latin jazz percussionist Armando Peraza (Oct. 12). For Hussain, there’s nothing unusual about that musical zig-zagging.

Bassekou Kouyate
Bassekou Kouyate

Bassekou Kouyate and Krar Collective

Oct. 11
Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley
Tickets and information

Two sides of Africa – West and East – meet on the same stage in this “two for one” night that extinguishes musical borders. Bassekou Kouyate, from Mali, is a master of the ngoni, a small stringed instrument that’s the ancestor of the American banjo. The Krar Collective, from England via Ethiopia, features the stringed instrument called the krar and an ensemble that modernizes traditional Ethiopian scales. Audience members frequently get up to dance at these musicians’ concerts, following in the footsteps of the musicians themselves.

Jazz artist Karrin Allyson and the United States Air Force Band's Airmen of Note kick off the 2007 Jazz Heritage Series at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University, September 7, 2007, in Washington, DC.
Jazz artist Karrin Allyson and the United States Air Force Band’s Airmen of Note kick off the 2007 Jazz Heritage Series at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University, September 7, 2007, in Washington, DC.

Karrin Allyson

Nov. 6
SFJAZZ Center, 201 Franklin Street, SF
Tickets and information

Interpreting songs from Brazil and using perfect Portuguese, Karrin Allyson is that rare American singer who can inhabit another country’s songs and make them completely her own. On “O Barquinho (My Little Boat),” for instance, Allyson scats and shimmies and pays homage to love in the language of Brazil (“Dia de luz, festa de sol, e um barquinho a deslizar”). It sounds divine as Allison emotes and quivers her way through the highs and lows of romantic joy. That Allison will do that in the jazz center’s smaller venue is almost too good to be true.

Lani Hall and Herb Alpert
Lani Hall and Herb Alpert

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

Nov. 7-8
Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga
Tickets and information

In the 1960s, as Herb Alpert was introducing the sound of his Tijuana Brass to American TV and radio audiences, Lani Hall was lead singer for Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, helping introduce Brazilian music to this country’s consciousness. Alpert signed Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 to his A&M Records in 1966, and married Hall in 1973. Alpert and Hall have been inseparable ever since – trumpeter and singer, husband and wife, yin and yang. Their fall tour isn’t just a nostalgia act; it’s a chance to reach both one step back and a couple steps forward in careers that have always wandered far afield.

Vieux Farka Toure with Idan Raichel
Vieux Farka Toure with Idan Raichel

Vieux Farka Toure and Idan Raichel

Nov. 8
Nourse Theater, 201 Hayes Street, SF
Tickets and information

Theirs is a successful collaboration between stars from Mali and Israel. You can hear it on their debut album from 2012, The Tel Aviv Session, where Idan Raichel’s piano playing shadows Vieux Farka Toure’s guitar work and is joined by a fusion of other voices and instrumentalists. Music doesn’t get much better than the duo’s stirring “Ane Nahatka,” on which Israeli singer Cabra Casay is especially noteworthy. In fact, Toure and Raichel perform as The Touré-Raichel Collective, acknowledging that it takes a village to make a great world-music band.

Milton Nascimento
Milton Nascimento

Milton Nascimento

Nov. 30
SFJAZZ Center, 201 Franklin Street, SF
tickets and information

Listen to jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s 1974 album Native Dancer and you hear Brazilian singer/guitarist/composer Milton Nascimento on many of the tracks, with a voice that reaches high octaves and really makes the album complete. Nascimento has gone on to perform and write for a Who’s Who of artists, including Paul Simon, who once said that Nascimento was “the major Brazilian composer post-Jobim-Gilberto.” Elevating Nascimento into the category of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto is quite a statement, but Nascimento has a habit of astounding his fans. That’s what’s sure to happen at the SFJAZZ Center.

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Author

Jonathan Curiel

Jonathan Curiel has written widely about music, film, books, art, photography and other cultural subjects for such publications as  SF Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, the Christian Science Monitor, The Wire (a London music magazine), Tablet and GlobalPost.  He has researched architecture at England's Oxford University as a Thomson Reuters Foundation Research Fellow, taught music journalism at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and been a juror at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

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