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“Wicked tune DJ”! Gilles Peterson Sonzeira Review


Gilles Peterson’s a long standing love affair with the Brazilian culture is one that has been well documented. The relationship between the man and the music, has been told via five albums, which have all been dedicated to shining a light on different aspects of Brazilian music heritage. Sonzeira is the sixth successor in line. Loosely translated, Sonzeira is Portuguese meaning a ‘cool or stunning sound’. In order to create that ‘cool’ sound, a whole host of Brazilian glitterati, musicians, living legends, songbirds, and percussionist, were carefully woven in to the tapestry of the album.

Sonzeira is a history lesson not in a traditional sense, rather like Show & Tell. It is an invitation to explore deep into the heart of Brazilian history, from the torrid days of slavery, where the spirit was kept alive through the beat of tribal drums. Layer upon layer of musical influences, the seductive sound of the Bossa Nova, Samba celebrating the diversity of life, melodies demonstrating the longing of a lost love, haunting growls expelling the daily oppression and poverty all rise up to create Sonzeira.
The heart of the album is based around the works of the late composer and songwriter Ary Brosso’s, Aquarela Do Brazil, Brazil Pandeiro and Nana. Like dropping a pebble in water the influences then ripple outwards.

Many characters were instrumental in making this history lesson come to life, the angelic voice of Emanuelle pacifies the percussion fuelled frenzy of ‘Xibaba’. Emanelle’s adaptation of the Jazz Funk classic by ‘Southern Freeez’ of track of the same name, sent shivers of delights down the spine, with its alluring hypnotic Bossa Nova groove.
The intoxicating gravel tones of Elza Soares as she pulls you closer into the meaning of ‘Aquarela do Brasil. A talent only matched by the exquisite Mart’nalia version of Sarah Vaughan Jazz rarity ‘Mystery of Man’, which incidentally was written by Pope John Paul 2. Mart’nalia learned how to sing the song in English, giving the song an added depth of texture. ‘Bam Bam Bam’, is a gluttonous feast of percussive extravaganza. So rich is this album with all nature of instruments, some in which I have never heard before. Instruments from all over the African continent were left in Brazil, to be played and loved by their masters and mistresses. Listen out for the stunning flute solos played by Fin Peters. When the deep spiritual percussive pulls at your very heart strings, you may be listening to genius of maestro Nana Vasconcelos.

Having listened to Sonzeira on continuous loop, I am comforted by it’s sheer of joy, it’s depth of meaning. You could listen to this album a thousand times and still discover something you may have missed previously. I get the sense that everybody involved in creating this project put their heart and soul into it. This is a work of art, it is the embodiment of ‘Sonzeira’.
Artist: Gilles Peterson
Title: Sonzeira Bam Bam Bam
Label: Talking Loud/ Virgin EMI
Release date: 26/05/2014
Available from: Amazon, Itunes