Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuária - Lágrimas Mexicanas

A collaborative project featuring Brazilian singer-songwriter Cantuária (vocals, percussion and guitar) with Frisell (guitars and loops) on ten co-written original compositions.  This is layered, texturally rich, rhythmically vibrant and melodically engaging music from two masters set for release in January 2011 on Entertainment One Music in North America and the Naïve label in Europe.  Recorded in at Avast in Seattle and Fantasy Studios in Berkeley with engineers Jason Lehning and Adam Muñoz, mixed at Fantasy with Muñoz and mastered at Sterling Sound in New York with Greg Calbi. Produced by Lee Townsend.

The guitars of Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuária melt together in my car speakers as if impossibly designed to echo the beauty in this very moment...

For those familiar with these two artists, either individually or in their previous collaborative incarnations including Frisell's own Intercontinentals or Cantuária's absorbing Horse and Fish, their high level of artistic integrity and deep level of musical simpatico is a given.  However, on Lágrimas Mexicanas their collaboration reaches a milestone with their first true duet record.  In fact, Frisell and Cantuária are the only two musicians on the entire record, credited with vocals, percussion, acoustic and electric guitars and loops.  The only outside contribution comes in the form of production from long time Frisell collaborator; Lee Townsend.

The album opens with the pulsing funk of "Mi Declaracion" before setting off on it's broader exploration of the common and uncommon ground shared by jazz, blues, americana and the music of Mexico.  The essence of the album, for me, is captured on "Calle 7" and "Lágrimas De Amor" (featuring Cantuária's beautifully distinctive vocal cadence), with the album reaching it's artistic peak on the atmospheric "Briga De Namorados".  The blink-and-you-miss-it gem of "La Curva" has a simple and almost archetypal quality, as if the melody has always been there, floating in the ether.  But the sweetest offerings of the collection are in those moments when it is simply one acoustic guitar and one electric guitar, Cantuária and Frisell "reacting to the sound of the thing" as Bill puts it, individual notes tumbling and fusing, dancing and consorting until they cease to be separate instruments or in fact instruments at all.  The sweetest offerings are in those moments, where it is simply one beautiful sound.  Hopefully this is only the first of many sonic expeditions for these two prolific and pioneering artists.  -  J. Hayes, No Depression
 

"With Cantuária's caressing vocals to the fore, these sublime and seemingly telepathic musicians produce delicate and intricate music which takes inspiration from, among others, Mexican ranchera, Afro-Brazilian rhythms and samba.  Sung largely in Spanish with Portuguese and English interludes, Lagrimas Mexicanas is an album of quite magnificence that gently insinuates itself on first hearing and which reveals extra layers and depths on each subsequent encounter." - Dave Haslam, R2

*****
Big Apple bossa, with an arty twist or two
Having made his name sprucing up bossa nova alongside New York's avant-garde set, this isn't the first time Brazilian ex-pat Vinicius Cantuária has taken the city's ethnic pulse, nor indeed the first time he's worked with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell.  Lágrimas Mexicanas differs, however, in being arguably his most empathetic and subtly worked experiment to date, drawing deep on NYC's Hispanic heritage, raking up sparks from the tenderest of melodies.  Most of the album title's tears are cried in the course of seven-minute opener Mi Declaración, a dolorous funk requiem rooted way south of the border and which is a study in contrast, coming next to the ravishing saudade of Aquela Mulher.  Calle 7 takes an airy, bittersweet, and thoroughly contemporary turn around Brooklyn.  But it's on the title-track that Cantuária's swarthy intensity and Frisell's spiky intellect really click into a higher gear: it's brilliantly propulsive, almost martial groove is peppered with grapeshot feeback and coils of grimy reverb.

On El Camino, meanwhile, the combination of Frisell's out-on-a-limb guitar transmissions and Cantuária's wordless, woebegone musings raises the ghost of Ry Cooder's Paris, Texas, and harks back to Frisell's past cinematic dabblings.  In between, the charming acoustic tracks La Curva and Cafezinho  flash glimpses of the pair's chemistry and lend the album an uncommon equilibrium.  For this is quite possibly the most perfectly sequenced and consistently listenable set you'll hear all year, right down to the exquisitely blurred vowels of closer Forinfas, wherein Cantuária approximates a gauche Harry Nilsson. - Brendon Griffin, Songlines (UK)

Vinicius Cantuária & Bill Frisell: 'Lágrimas Mexicanas' (Entertainment One). After collaborating off and on for 25 years, this first full-length pairing of Frisell and the Brazilian singer-songwriter is a study in the jazz guitarist's ability to thrive in any genre. Frisell's Americana twang and echoing feedback mixed with twilit Bossa Nova is irresistible. - Chris Barton, LA Times

Vinicius Cantuária is one of the leading lights of contemporary bossa nova; Bill Frisell is an experimental jazz guitarist who has collaborated with everyone from Elvis Costello to John Zorn. They've worked together before, but 'Lágrimas Mexicanas' represents their first album-length collaboration, and it's a quiet stunner. Frisell's textured, atmospheric guitars and subtle electronic loops settle into the spaces between Cantuária's gentle vocals, acoustic guitar and live percussion, giving these tracks a lush, cinematic vibe that will bewitch both traditional world music fans and lovers of global-groove artists like Thievery Corporation and David Byrne. - Metromix

Lágrimas Mexicana is a completely unique collection of songs that draws heavily from traditional Latin and Brazilian rhythms, and weds them to 21st century jazz improvisation and sonic effects in a luxuriant braid of colors, textures, styles, and languages. Having known one another for 25 years, Brazilian guitarist, songwriter, and percussionist Vinicius Cantuaria and American guitarist Bill Frisell have occasionally played on one another's albums. They have long sought the opportunity to collaborate on an album-length project. After Cantuaria moved to Brooklyn from Brazil, it presented itself. Arriving in New York, Cantuaria was deeply taken with the sheer diversity of the Spanish-speaking people and sounds he encountered on the streets, from Cubans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Venezuelans, and Mexicans; they drew him in, and his songwriter's instincts began to address what he'd heard. Here he plays acoustic guitar, percussion, and sings in his beautiful airy baritone. Frisell, who understood and orchestrated Cantuaria's vision, plays electric guitar and employs loops and efx that meld provocatively yet seamlessly with these songs. The various languages -- Spanish, Portuguese, and English -- concern themselves with the various manifestations of love, from spiritual to carnal to platonic. - by Thom Jurek, All Music

A 21st-Century Global Concoction
Because Vinicius Cantuaria and Bill Frisell share so many traits - a love of jazz/indigenous folk hybrids, a taste for refinement and restraint that doesn't exclude either acoustic finger-picking or electronic technology, and a preference for delicate, sophisticated textures - Lagrimas Mexicanas is a potently understated, multifaceted gem.   Emusic.com