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Friday, May 18, 2007
By WAYNE GABEL
Motherhood prompted genre-busting Brazilian singer-songwriter Marisa Monte to take a break from touring a few years ago. Now, maternity has her back on the road with a 10-piece band and headed to Japan for her first concerts in 15 years.
The Rio de Janeiro native's "unidentical twins" are a pair of albums released simultaneously last May. "Universo Au Meu Redor," her first full samba record, intersperses classic songs with tradition-inspired new ones, while the pop-oriented "Infinito Particular" breathes life into unfinished works from the multi-instrumentalist's past. "Universo" had its genesis when Monte took time off to care for her first child, Mano, now 4. Inspired by her research into the oral tradition of old-time Rio samba, it's a rescue mission of sorts. Some of the sambas date back to the 1940s and had never been recorded, putting them at risk of dying along with their aging creators.
In interviews, these weekend sambistas re-created songs from memory and 39-year-old Monte arranged the tunes in ways that let the past and present coexist. Retro keyboards lend a psychedelic vibe, while electronically manipulated instruments and vocals expand samba's sonic palette in decidedly untraditional ways. Frequent Monte collaborators Carlinhos Brown and Arnaldo Antunes leave their mark, and David Byrne, a longtime cheerleader for Brazilian music, sings on one track.
Monte conceived "Infinito Particular" while digitizing unreleased work, which made her revive a few relics with such collaborators as American composer Philip Glass. Though it shares the lightness and lyricism of its twin, "Infinito Particular" is rooted in Musica Popular Brasileira, the rock-influenced style of balladry popularized by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and reinvigorated by artists like Monte herself.
Marisa Monte plays May 26, 7 p.m., at Zepp Nagoya ( 320-9100); May 29, 7 p.m., and May 30, 7 p.m., at Bunkamura Orchard Hall in Tokyo; tickets for all shows 8,000 yen/9,000 yen. For more information call (03) 5280-9996 or visit www.conversation.co.jp