"Cantuária offered a set that was a masterpiece of contemporary music, regardless of definition."
–Los Angeles Times
Vinicius Cantuária was born in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil, living there until he was seven, when his family moved to Rio. As singer, songwriter, guitarist and percussionist, his career connects several zones of Brazilian music. And though his music is known for its decidedly twenty-first century feel, Cantuária’s band might best be described as ‘post-electronica acoustic’ – a band that includes jazz bassist Paul Socolow, Michael Leonhart (the young Steely Dan trumpeter) and a rotating crew of Brazilian percussionists Nanny Assis, Mauro Refosco and legendary drummer Paulo Braga. Their repertoire typically includes songs by Jobim and Gilberto Gil, as well as Cantuária’s own fund of songs.
Cantuária’s albums, always critics’ favorites, have featured collaborations with some of the starrier names in left-field commercial music: Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Brian Eno, Bill Frisell, and Arto Lindsay. Though artists such as Anderson, Frisell and Lindsay have a common touch, there is always an awkwardness to their music: they don’t worry about ugly sounds. They are prepared to confront their sophisticated audiences as well as delight them. Cantuária, by contrast, rarely produces anything that is not beautiful. He might express enthusiastic interest in DJ Spooky and the scratchy rhythms of laptop blip-hop, trade vocals with David Byrne or duet with Marc Ribot, but the end-result is always tuneful, light, fleet and musical. Compare his version of ‘O Nome Dela’ (co-written with Arto Lindsay) with the version on Lindsay’s own album Prize. The song has a fabulous tune, a great hook and simple affecting words. Each version has its merits, and demonstrates a different aspect of Cantuária’s chord playing, but it’s the Brazilian’s earlier version (on Sol Na Cara) that haunts the mind and grips the heart.