All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Interviews

Sandro Albert: A Bard’s Journey

By Published: November 23, 2010
AAJ: What kind of music did you first play when that ice cream vendor gave you his guitar? Was it a life-changing experience?



From left: Sandro Albert, Mark Ledford, Tom Brechtlein, Katisse Buckingham

SA: After I learned a few chords, I went straight into playing the music of The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles

band/orchestra
, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones

band/orchestra
and other rock bands of the day in Britain, Europe and America. Then one day a friend of mine played me a Wes Montgomery
Wes Montgomery
Wes Montgomery
1925 - 1968
guitar
record that completely changed my perception of the guitar and how it could be played. I was like "Wow, man! Can we really do that with a guitar?" I was just amazed by all those chords progressions and lines that Wes played on the guitar. He became my idol and turned my musical life around completely.

Later when I became more familiar with the great players and composers of Brazil, I really did find a deep connection with whole Brazilian-American-European thing, I mean, jazz, choro, samba, bossa nova, classical music. I realized that the guitar was a great voice for all of this music and more, not just for rock-and-roll.

AAJ: When did you first leave Porto Alegre? Why did you decide to leave?

SA: I left Porto Alegre when I was 17 years old and I moved to Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais, your grandfather's hometown. I decide to leave Porto Alegre to explore and learn music in a much deeper way than I was (and could possibly do) in my hometown.

AAJ: What brought you to Minas Gerais?

SA: The reason was my fascination with the music of that state. Beautiful harmonies and melodies was what made me go there and stay for 15 months to learn some of those musical elements.

AAJ: How did you hook up with Milton Nascimento? Do you keep in touch with him often?

SA: I was already living in Los Angeles for many years when I got my first record deal back in 2001. I contacted a great composer and guitarist friend of mine, named Elder Costa, who was friends with Milton. I was telling him about my then-current project, Soulful People (Meridian Music, 2001). It was Elder who heard something in the music I had already composed and he encouraged me to send two of my songs to Milton. Elder said that he would personally deliver the music to Milton and see if he would record it.

So sent the music off and I waited. I also wrote Milton a letter telling him how much I loved his music and how I would love to hear from him. A month later, my friend called me back and said that I should contact Milton because he loved the songs. Not only that, he was also interested in recording them with me. I always was a big fan of his music, so having him record with me had an incredible positive impact in my career.

We keep in touch to this day. If I am in Brazil, I stop by to visit with him. If he is here in the States, I'll go to his show.

AAJ: Is he going to record with you again soon? That means, I suppose, will you be doing some more music with experimental-sounding vocals again soon?

SA: We always talk about writing something together and I often ask him about a song he promised to write for me. With regards to recording another song together, we never really talked about it. . But it was already a blessing to have him as a special guest in two songs in my first record.

AAJ: What American idiom were you first drawn to? Was it bebop, like most musicians including cats like Tom Jobim and the Tropicalia musicians?

SA: As I mentioned before, it did start with rock and I got more and more drawn to bossa nova, MPB and jazz. I was not particularly bebop in the beginning. It was more the music of the atmospheric musicians like Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
b.1954
guitar
.

AAJ: Have you ever felt drawn to the Tropicalia musicians? Gil, Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso
- 1942
guitar
, Chico Buarque and so on? It is hard not to be, I know and you also have that style that melts lyricism into a gentle irony together, although it is hard to write like them if you are not a direct participant in Brazilian life. I mean you live in the States, so it is hard to be a "Tropicalista."

It seems a new sensibility is developing, one combining the sights and sounds of "litoral e interior" and the "sertaõs veredas" and the rustle of the Amazon with the carioca and the paulista, reaching as far as the African experience and the European one of Ravel and Debussy and Stravinsky; rolling it all into a new experience of Musica Brasileira, a sort of all-encompassing experience of what it is to hear music from a Brazilian perspective. This is a growing phenomenon now and it is catching fire all over the world. Care to comment?

SA: I have always liked the "Baiano" composers, as we call them in Brasil. The incredible swing of Gil, the lyrics from Caetano and the incredible voice of Gal Costa
Gal Costa
Gal Costa
b.1946
vocalist
. Also guys like Djavan, Milton, Ivan Lins
Ivan Lins
Ivan Lins
b.1945
keyboard
, Jobim, Jackson do Pandeiro and Chico, just to name a few, are treasures of the world music scene. They wrote the book of good music and you can hear all the elements you mentioned above: African, classical European, jazz, etc., in their music. I think the Brazilian composer is not afraid of experimenting, especially with elements he would find abroad. After understanding it a little bit, we like to put it in a big pot and mix to see what happens... mixtura fina, you know—the fine mixture—that sort of thing.


comments powered by Disqus
Download jazz mp3 “Vertical” by Sandro Albert