Tom Zé ‎/ THE HIPS OF TRADITION – Brazil 5: The Return Of Tom Zé


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“Tom Zé’s original title for this album was Ancas, the Portuguese word for hips. “Hips” is hip here because of the immediate association with movement of the body -dance- even if the music might seem more heady than anything else. But there’s more to this anca business. The word may have come to the Portuguese through Provençal, the language of the medieval troubadours who enchanted ladies and admirers with the fine art of song. And what better way to think of Tom Zé than as a (post-) modern troubadour of the electronic age, inventing and blending motz e som (words and sound, in Provençal) as the elegant Brazilian concrete poet and critic Augusto de Campos saw some 20 years ago (here the echo is brightest in “Feira de Santana”). In the 1970s, Tom Zé recorded on a label called Continental, whose beyond-Brazil overtones become even more relevant in listening to this outside urban outbacker who tosses some needed perplexity into the ring of Brazilian music. Zé was a studied poet of song in the 70’s; he experimented with decomposition, groaned satires and pursued “serious” metaphor-laden material. No reason to believe any of that has changed. Here you can hear the against-the-grain “Suffer From Youth,” and sense the surprise without knowing the native language. Tom Zé makes it strange for Brazilians , too. His colorful, oddball, offbeat words simply make you wonder. And even the noise is nice where polyvalent play- polyrhythms, polyphony and polysemic approaches to performance- abound. These bits and pieces, compositions, songs and soundings probe tradition, diction, arrangement and derangement. Settle in to be unsettled, again.” -Charles A. Perrone

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