Vinicius Cantuária & Bill Frisell - Lágrimas Mexicanas
Vinicius Cantuária - vocals, percussion and acoustic guitar
Bill Frisell - electric and acoustic guitars, loops
Produced by Lee Townsend
Recording Engineers: Jason Lehning and Adam Muñoz
Mixing Engineer: Adam Muñoz
Mastering Engineer: Greg Calbi
Production Assistance: Adam Blomberg
1. Mi Declaración
2. Calle 7
3. La Curva
4. Lágrimas Mexicanas
5. Lágrimas De Amor
7. El Camino
8. Aquela Mulher
9. Briga De Namorados
Recorded at Avast Recording, Seattle and Fantasy Studios, Berkeley
Mixed at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley
Mastered at Sterling Sound, New York
Entertainment One Music, 2011
A duet is special when the chemistry between the partners is focused and unforced. A duet is exceptional when the partners somehow create a band that suggests more than two members. Brazilian vocalist-guitarist Vinicius Cantuária and American guitarist Bill Frisell have a major advantage in this respect as the former also plays percussion and the latter uses a pedal board that creates a wide range of loops and effects that lend orchestral detail to any chord sequence and main melody of a song.
So the bulk of the tracks on this enchanting disc do indeed sound like the work of a three or four-piece combo, but the rub is that there is a delicacy, an eye-of-the-needle precision, that still retains something of the heightened conversational intimacy that defines the duet format at its best. Arguably the most legitimate heir apparent to Tropicalismo legend Caetano Veloso, Cantuária has emerged as a fearlessly experimental figure in Brazilian music in the past 20 years and daringly steered bossa nova towards an undefined stylistic space in which fractured, non-linear electronica, hard-edged rock and understated jazz resonances synthesize as if to the manner born.
Frisell, one of the great omnivores of modern music, is an apposite collaborator primarily because he is as interested in crafting threads, fringes and veils of sound by way of technological means as he is playing strong theme and improvisation, and the union of the two men on this programme of originals that shifts seamlessly from Brazilian to Spanish to Mexican inflections pays substantial creative dividends. Given the wistfully light but piercing quality of Cantuária's tenor, the vocal songs command immediate attention; but on repeat listening it is the instrumentals that reveal greater riches. Briga De Namorados is a highlight - a wordless tragicomic ghost story, such is the evocative power of its eerie deceleration from bright samba skip to bleak adagio crawl. Frisell's teasing tremolos glisten over spirals of processed sound before an abrupt reprise of the sunny opening chords, the effect of which is as bizarrely beautiful as it is beautifully bizarre. - Kevin Le Gendre / BBC
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, Lágrimas 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)
PRI- The World
Audio interview with Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cántuaria
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
There’s no telling what kind of music American guitarist Bill Frisell will come up with next. He’s been The Man for quite awhile now, fusing elements of prog, jazz, world, classical and ambient. He’s collaborated with avant-garde saxophonist John Zorn for 11 albums, been a leader on 29 albums of his own, worked in the band Naked City for 10 albums and in a brilliant trio with drummer Paul Motian and bop saxophonist Joe Lovano for 17 albums.
Vinicius Cantuária moved to Brooklyn in the mid-90s. For over 25 years he’s used the traditional bossa nova and samba sounds of his native Brazil as base for his more contemporary inventions.
Lágrimas Mexicanas pairs Cantuária’s dreamy vocals (in Portuguese, Spanish and English), acoustic guitar and percussion with Frizell’s electric and acoustic guitar, loops and arrangements. The experimental soundscapes created by both men are hauntingly memorable, complete with a stunning, percolating percussive pop that engages the body as well as the mind.
Striking in its originality, the Latin rhythms and the jazz improv coalesce to create a heady mix of romantic moods and laid-back (but not lazy) vistas perfectly timed out at 40-plus minutes. - Mike Greenblatt - Aquarian
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 Cantuária 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 Cantuária moved to Brooklyn from Brazil, it presented itself. Arriving in New York, Cantuária 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 Cantuária'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. The opener, "Mi Declaracion," begins with organic and synthetic percussion; Frisell plays a nocturnal, breezy wah-wah funk line before the tune asserts itself as a present-to-future Mexican sonidero. Cantuaria's and Frisell's guitars meet and play off one another on the utterly haunting and lovely "Calle 7," that touches on both ranchera and norteÃ±o but is its own sleek, sexy (post-)modern animal. Afro-Colombian rhythms meet samba in the lilting ballad "LÃ¡grimas de Amor," where Frisell's guitar loops itself to create a counter rhythm and elongate the elegant textural elements at work in the structure. The lyric is tender, the melody is heartbreakingly beautiful. "Aquela Mulher" brings together a nuevo cancion melody with Afro-Brazilian rhythms. The only tune that deviates from the Latin and Brazilian tapestry is the brief closing number "Forinfas," which melds early jazz and pop, but from Cantuária's voice, it becomes something wholly other. LÃ¡grimas Mexicana is an ambitious yet utterly accessible album that would have been just as at home on David Byrne's Luaka Bop label. It is at once warm, sexy, and visionary. It presents two different yet very complementary artists in a collaboration that borders on brilliant. - by Thom Jurek, All Music
Ecru and white, countless pieces drift down as if so much powder. To the right, they drift to rest on the eves and window frames of a small cedar shingle saltbox. Candles flicker in the front windows and sweet smelling plumes rise from the chimney to disappear in the ashen firmament. Just ahead, they drift to rest on a lonely town common and victorian gazebo, host and shelter to a family of geese, silent and motionless in the cold snow. To the left, they drift to rest on sand and disappear into rolling waves seamless and constant. In the distance, the waves themselves seem to crash in or out of the pale heavens, blurring sky and surf and storm. 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 LÃ¡grimas Mexicanas their collaboration reaches a milestone with their first true duet record. In fact, Frisell and CantuÃ¡ria 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 "LÃ¡grimas 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. - No Depression, J. Hayes
A 21st-Century Global Concoction
Because Vinicius Cantuária 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 -- Lágrimas Mexicanas is a potently understated, multifaceted gem. Emusic.com
Is there anything Frisell can't do? Over the course of his 30-year career, the Baltimore-born guitarist has tackled a jaw-dropping array of genres, from jazz and country to experimental noise and soundtracks. Here, he collaborates with Brazilian singer Vinicius Cantuária on a set of Bossa Nova-tinged tunes full of easygoing grooves. It reminds me of Chet Baker, or Antonio Carlos Jobim, as Frisell solos tastefully over subtle and seductively looped rhythms, and Cantuária sings wistfully about love and loss. Amazingly, Frisell never loses his musical identity in this setting, and his distinctive tone marks the material as his own. As composer and accompanist, he's rarely sounded better. John Lewis, Baltimore Magazine