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Caetano Veloso @ Greek Theatre 04/15/10

Caetano Veloso performing at the Greek Theatre | Photo by Randall Michelson
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Nederlander Concerts kicked off the 2010 Los Angeles Greek Theatre season this past Thursday night and turned what could have been a chilly April evening into a joyous celebration of Tropicalia warmed by the music of Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso. With the cool, class and phrasing of an Andy Williams or Mel Torme, the visual lyricism of Pedro Almodovar (for whose films he has composed) and the politics of Zach De La Rocha, Veloso reached to touch every dimension of passion and love available to a master songwriter as if that was the easiest and most natural thing in the world to do. Judging by the respectful crowd seizing every opportunity to sing and dance with him—he was correct, and he succeeded.

In his 2002 memoir Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil, Veloso wrote about the man that became his mentor and whom he refers to as ‘my supreme master,’ composer Jao Gilberto. And no less a figure than this same brilliant Gilberto describes Veloso as having made a contribution to the music of Brazil that provided ‘an accompaniment of thought’ to the maestros own music. It was this sense of passion, not bound, but lifted by thought, that was readily apparent in the April evening as Veloso’s eloquence and phrasing both wakened and soothed, reminded then calmed; as his music, his words and their delivery spoke to the audience whether their own pre and post show conversations were in Portuguese, Spanish or English.