Forget the fiery performances that this Brazilian legend has staged in the past, backed by a big band playing reggae and samba. This time around, he follows in the footsteps of João Gilberto. Gil performs solo, revisiting both classic and obscure selections from his personal songbook.
Gil was one of the minds behind the Tropicalia movement of the Sixties. As noted by longtime friend Caetano Veloso, Gil would listen repeatedly to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, then urge members of his group to incorporate those rock elements into their traditional bossa nova. The result was the landmark Tropicalia album in 1968, a disc that single-handedly changed the face of music in Brazil by introducing electric guitars, backward tapes, and synthesizers. In 1969 he and Veloso were arrested and exiled to London by Brazil's military dictatorship. There he continued to research new sounds. Eventually Gil began to incorporate reggae, jazz, and rap into his music.
Today Gil juggles his career as a musician with his duties as Minister of Culture of Brazil, a job he (at first) reluctantly accepted when appointed by President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. "I used to be a stone thrower, but now I am a glass window," he has said about his position. He has nevertheless thrived in the job, creating tax breaks for artists and corporations that sponsor the arts in his country.
Gilberto Gil performs at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 30, at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami. Call 786-468-2000, or visit www.carnivalcenter.org.
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On his latest album, Gil Luminoso, he performs bare-bones renditions of songs such as "Eu Preciso Aprender a Ser S" ("I Need to Learn To Be Alone") and " Tempo Rei" ("King Time"), giving them a more personal approach than the original electrified releases. There are virtually no overdubs or studio tricks, and that is what audiences can expect on his U.S. tour.