António Zambujo at Live@365

Last week I went to see Antonio Zambujo on CUNY’s new Live @ 365 series, curated by Isabel Soffer. We don’t cover a lot of music here at Culturebot, but I loved this concert and I wanted to let people know about this great new series.

Antonio Zambujo is one of the most well-regarded performers of Portuguese Fado in the world. I’m not familiar with the form but it is really beautiful. Zambujo’s voice is stirring and passionate, I have no idea what he was singing about – I don’t speak Portuguese – but he could sing about cheese and I’d be thrilled. His ensemble of musicians is also incredible – Luis Guerreiro plays the Portuguese guitar which is like a small steel 12-string, and it just rings out with these bright, crisp tones; it is very rhythmic but Luis would occasionally cut loose with snake-y solos and little trills and frills here and there that popped up and surprised you. Ricardo Cruz, music director and stand-up double bass player, totally held the whole thing together at the bottom end, also occasionally cutting loose with runs and solos that could be moody or funky, depending on the song. And what really took the whole thing to a new place was Jon Luz on cavaquinho, a small guitar-like instrument mostly used in Brazilian music. He was just out there, making everything from kind of feedback-y tone washes to funky up-beat counter-rhythms. It was incredible.

The Elebash Recital Hall at the Graduate Center at CUNY is a tricky space but it worked really well. It was intimate but spacious and the sound was really clean, clear, well-mixed and well-balanced. I’ve known Isabel Soffer for awhile now and she has great taste and an encyclopedic knowledge of world music. The program she has put together for the new Live@365 series looks stellar and I would encourage you to check out the upcoming shows.

Here’s a video of Antonio Zambujo:

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