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Take Five with Composer Rodrigo Simoes

Take Five with Composer Rodrigo Simoes

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Meet Rodrigo Simoes

Rodrigo Simões is a composer with a distinctive style that oscillates between Brazilian music and jazz improvisation. His international career has taken him through China, Australia, South Korea, Paraguay and the United States, in addition to his native country—Brazil—and his adopted country—Canada. The guitarist has already collaborated with great artists in Brazil (Elza Soares, Carlos Malta, Paulinho da Viola, Dominguinhos, Zeca Baleiro and Paulo Moska) and in Canada (Bill McBirnie, Joel Miller, Flavia Nascimento, Sienna Dahlen, Alex Lefaivre, Sonia Jonhson, Mark Nelson, Carl Mayotte and Jean-Pierre Zanella). In 2013, his first album, Aos Velhos Amigos, was released in Brazil. In 2018, he completed a masters degree in jazz composition at the University of Montreal, under the supervision of bassist Alain Caron (UZEB). That same year, he released his second album, Jazz Brésilien, through the Montreal jazz record label Multiple Chord Music, which received Bronze Medal from Global Music Awards and was classified among the five best jazz CDs 2018 in Quebec by Sorties Jazz Nights. In March 2023 he released his third work under the sign of 3. TRE is Rodrigo Simoes' new concept album through Canadian jazz label Three Pines Records.



Teachers and/or influences?

Some of my teachers: Mario Conde, Nelson Farias, Fábio Leal, Fábio Gouveia, André Marques and Alain Caron. Some of my influences: Hermeto Pascoal, Pat Martino, Airto Moreira, Charlie Parker, Heraldo do Monte, Jacó do Bandolim and Pixinguinha.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

When I discovered Heraldo do Monte and Hermeto Pascoal. Also, when I got to meet students (my future colleagues) from Conservatório de Tatuí (São Paulo) at a summer camp.

Your sound and approach to music:

My approach to music is at the energetic level. I'm always trying to bring joy to people with inspiring and uplifting music.

Your teaching approach:

When it comes to teaching, I like to provide the student the experience of playing music together. Also, the importance of getting rid of preconceived judgments.

Your dream band:

I love to play with my peers, but if I had to put together a room with some of my dream musicians, I would like to have the Brazilian bassist Nico Assunção, with North-American trumpeter Chet Baker all together with Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo. I think we would have some interesting sounds coming out of this session.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

My best experience was to play with Paulinho da Viola and Orquestra a base de Cordas for a huge audience at Vale do Anhangabaú during the Virada Cultural de São Paulo (Brazil).

Favorite venue:

My favorite venue is whatever place they treat musicians with respect and has a nice compromise with the sound and the final artistic result.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Heraldo do Monte (1980), that was the album that influenced me to study Brazilian jazz to a point where I could be able to compose creative music.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

An Ella Fitzgerald one. But the first album I asked for my auntie as Christmas gift when I was four years old was an Alceu Valença one.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Maybe my compositions, maybe keeping Brazilian jazz music alive outside Brazil and maybe... music training of my students.

Did you know...

I also have a law degree.

CDs you are listening to now:

Yosuke Onuma: Jam Ka deux (Flyway Label)

Desert Island picks:

Hermeto Pascoal: Live in Montreaux

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

There are great young musicians out there spreading good music and information. However, I feel there are less and less private venues and live music clubs.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Invest in the new generation's education, stop the algorithms to re-inforce music tastes and beliefs.

What is in the near future?

I had just released TRE, so... to play it a lot and tour with my band.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?

I don't have any fear of performing. Perhaps, the fear of not being at the present moment, bringing the necessary energy to the music to happen. But that is not really a fear, it is what I search for... at every gig.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

No song, just silence.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

Whatever new composition I'm working on.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

A teacher.

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Garoto (Aníbal Augusto Sardinha), because of his master genius on the guitar pre bossa.

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