Photos by Erin Jackson
A beautiful evening, first day of the new season. The beautiful sky above, not a star in sight, a cool breeze and plenty of food and drinks. People lazily spread across the lawn, on their blankets… laughter and lots of warmth and anticipation among them. This was the scenery at the Scottsdale civic center’s outdoor amphitheater.
Close to seven hundred people gathered to see a master display his tremendous talent on stage. He, is Mr. Gilberto Gil.
Two musicians, one of which is his son, Bem Gil, accompany Mr. Gil, for this American tour called “The string concert”. The other musician is Jacques Morelembaum on cello.
Gilberto Gil was born in Salvatore, Bahia (northeastern Brazil) in 1942. He began his musical career despite having a degree in Business Administration and a day job. Mr. Gil is a political activist and this caused him to be imprisoned and exiled in Britain from 1969 to 1972 with fellow activist Caetano Veloso. The two fathered a social movement known as Tropicalismo or Tropicalia, which spoke against the military regime in place at the time. It forever changed the music scene in Brazil.
Consequently, it gave several new artists a voice. Among these are the famed Gal Costa and Maria Bethânia.
Mr. Gil’s repertoire on Sunday evening reflected his broad musical range. He blends many different styles of music, going from MPB ( popular music of Brazil) to samba, reggae, bossa nova, rock and the music of Bahia, Afoxé: . His showmanship is undeniable. The crowd- full of fellow Brazilians sang along to a song that could have been the Rio de Janeiro anthem.
Later, it was time for a vocal lesson that preceded the song “Babá Alapalá”
The master showed his family man side with two songs. One was dedicated to his fifth daughter Maria, who was set to wed at the time. The other was written for his wife Flora, “ Quatro coisas” or four things.
The vocal range of Gilberto Gil can only be described as impressive. Maybe that too would be an understatement. It is amazing the ease with witch he moves form a very, very low pitch to one that sounded in my novice ears as an octave! Although all the songs kept a smile on one’s face, nothing brought a bigger grin to mine than the song “La renaissance Africaine” (The African renaissance), a true celebration of the Motherland.
The concert lasted almost two hours. After being called on stage once more by its adoring fans, the trio performed three more songs, to the delight of all present.
Some people who had never even heard of Gil prior to the evening became fans of his by the end of the concert.
For a man who sat at a desk for five years as Brazil’s minister of Culture with no time to spare on his passion, music never really left his side. He clearly demonstrated that beautifully on that stage.
For more information, please visit “www.gilbertogil.com.br”. His latest album, Banda Dois is now available in the US. It is one to listen. But then again, so are all 55 albums!