What a fantastic Christmas present! Rodrigo Tavares' debut album Congo, which we released on vinyl back in March, has been named Album of the Year by respected Brazilian journalist, Ronaldo Lemos in Brazil's biggest daily newspaper, Folha de Sao Paolo. Portuguese speakers can read the full article here:
Or, here is a rough translation:
"The best record of 2018
End of the year approaching, time to make lists to recap this atypical year. The best record of 2018 - in the opinion of this columnist and the prestigious English magazine The Wire - is "Congo", a pearl created by the musician, guitarist, writer and philosopher from Minas, Rodrigo Tavares. The album is a meditative and emotional reflection on the tradition of popular music in our country. It is also a "maverick", different from the current musical currents, but it creates its own place in the lineage of jazz, MPB, bossa nova and even rock. In other words, "Congo" is a musical werewolf, who could only have been born on the slopes of Belo Horizonte.
Rodrigo learned to play guitar and guitar at age 11. As a teenager, he even made shows. However, his music submerged when he began to study communications at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) and then cultural studies at Goldsmiths College in London. In this period, he remained active as never musically, but reserved/restricted/secluded to a private universe. To get out of seclusion, it took an epiphany to watch an unlikely Sun City Girls show at a roadside club in Pouso Alegre. There the recording project began.
For that, he recruited drummer Felipe Continentino and bassist Pedro Santana.
Those who listen to the album have difficulty identifying what is composition and what is improvisation, given the dedication with which Rodrigo conceived the album, which also has a guitar, saxophone, vibraphone and an enthralling participation of a Fender Rhodes keyboard in an epic moment.
Despite being virtually unknown in Brazil, the international press has already discovered Rodrigo Tavares. Wire - England's leading music magazine - did a full-page story with him in May. In the year-end edition, it placed his album first in the "Global" list, saying that it was "an exploration of the inner workings of Brazilian modernity, in which the power of history and tradition are interrogated as new thinking, adequate to serve to the fires and tension of the present moment ".
I asked Rodrigo if he agrees with this description of Wire. He told me that "it is also important to care less about the discussion around the tradition of Brazilian music. We do not even know well what Brazil is at this point. Therefore, what counts are gestures that can open paths, invent things, escape from this anachronistic present. " The album is available on Spotify and on major digital platforms. It was also released on vinyl by the English label Hivemind. Curiously, Rodrigo says it was the vinyl release - old media - that made his music noticed. In his words: "Without the vinyl, perhaps 'Congo' would be submerged in the sea of launches that happen every day on the digital platforms." Which illustrates well the game between present, past and future that "Congo" represents as universal Brazilian music. It reminds us that there is no void. Every day extraordinary works are produced and released. Only often there is no one to pay attention."