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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In Context: Tom Zé



Music legend Tom Zé, the avant garde conscience of Brazil’s 1960s Tropicália movement, exuberantly channels the spirit of Salvador and São Paulo with an evening of samba and bossa nova reimagined as only he can. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #TomZé.

Program Notes

Tom Zé (PDF)

Read

Article
FEATURE: Brazil’s Madcap Post-Tropicalista Tom Zé is Still Making the Avant-Garde Go Pop (FADER)A very useful primer on Tropicália, Tom Zé, and that time the great forgotten musician was “on the verge of leaving São Paulo to pump gas at his cousin’s fuel station,” before David Byrne discovered his album in a record store in Rio.

Article
The Brazilian Tragicomedy Of Tom Zé (Paste)
Why Zé absolutely is—and resolutely isn’t—an exemplar of Brazil’s Tropicália movement.

Watch & Listen

Video
Tom Zé: Explaining Things So I Can Confuse You (YouTube)
The origin story of Tom Zé, featuring Rita Lee, David Byrne, and some great archival footage, put together for the release of Luaka Bop’s 2010 box set, “Studies of Tom Zé.”

Video
Menina Amanha de Manha - Red Bull Music Academy lecture series (YouTube)
Zé comes a bit undone during an impromptu performance in the middle of an RBMA lecture series event in Madrid.

Video
Tropicalia: Revolution in Sound (YouTube)
On the revolutionary politics of Tropicália, the repression of the Brazilian junta, and the inspiration of Paris, May ‘68.

Now your turn...

How did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Surprises? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #TomZé.

17 comments:

  1. Amazing show. So proud to be Brazilian and understand his work. Thank you Tom Ze for trying to explain to non-Portuguese speakers the nuances of your art.

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  2. As non-Brazilian persons, we can speak for ourselves and quite a few people surrounding us. This was an unfortunate show in that Tom Ze does not speak English yet attempted to do so (at length) over the course of the entire evening. No interpreter. His music is fine but not exactly heady. Case in point is his closing number in which he gives homage to the Yellow Pages by repeating the phone numbers in the book. Seems like a nice guy but as an entertainer, quite self-indulgent.

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  3. Concur ... too much lost in translation. Needed contextualization (and / or a translator) for those new to his music or unfamiliar with Portuguese.

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    1. Absurdity and joy are universal. It's unfortunate that didn't come across for you.

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  4. I agree! Some wonderful music but I fault the organizers for the -lost in translation problem. Tom's schtick went from being endearing to annoying very quickly and brought the energy of the evening way-way down. The organizers should have known that Tom likes to speak to the audience in between tunes and supplied him/US with an on stage interpreter. With this in place it would have made for a much-much better show. Sorry but I was disappointed because you the shows energy balloon was totally deflated do to too much talking.

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    Replies
    1. oops...sorry for the typos!

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  5. Also concur. The first couple of times Ze called on the audience to help him translate, it was charming, but the act got old quickly. For non-Portuguese speakers, his introductions were incomprehensible and needlessly lengthy.

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  6. Well, undoubtedly, enormous amounts of content were lost in translation to non-Portuguese-speakers (I have some, though minimal, comprehension of Portuguese). And there was certainly a lot of talking in the performance, of which I wish I had understood much more. But I found that just letting the experience wash over me, as if I were wandering crowded streets in a city in Brazil and stopped to watch a street performer, I could appreciate the entirety of the performance as a Brazilian cultural phenomenon. It was interesting and enjoyable, even if in a much more limited way than if I had been able to understand all of the words. An interpreter with a personality that coordinated with the spirit of the group would have helped.

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  7. Tom Zé is one of the greatest artists alive. As one of his musics says, he explains in order to confuse and confuses innorder to enlightnen. So sorry for those unfamiliar with his work and/or not smart enough to play his game. Best luck next time!

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    1. If you (romor) are so 'smart', you should understand that no one has to play anyone's game, regardless how supposedly 'talented' they are. You either like it or you don't..
      His lengthy explanations in Portuguese, that most people couldn't understand were annoying and his choice of songs was unfortunate. Plain and simple. The entire show had an amateur quality to it.

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  8. A real disappointment! He was more like a comedian trying to present funny scenes through using broken English and unfortunate props. For a non- Brazilian a wasted evening.

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  9. I found the show to be deeply frustrating. And it's not because I'm not Brazilian and don't know the brilliance of his early work; I adore his albums from the 70s. I just think the performers let the shtick get out of control, and he never let anything get going musically. Once he started to talk *through songs* (not just between them), my partner and I actually decided enough was enough and left early.

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  10. Saw many people leave early.

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  11. I'm a little surprised by the negative comments here about such a joyous show performed by ... dare I say it? ... an elderly man! But this elderly man has retained a playfulness that was very endearing. I didn't understand much of the between song banter, but I listened to it anyway and wished I understood it. But, it's my fault for not knowing Portuguese! I thoroughly enjoyed the show and feel a tinge of sorrow that the smartphone era seems to have genuinely caused people to have little patience for anything that they don't immediately understand or think they like. Overall it was a very enriching evening with Tom Ze. Thank you for bringing him to BAM.

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  12. I like to be surprised by things so I went knowing nothing about Tom Ze or the Portuguese language but I realized early on that it wasn't for me. However, the audience around me (who mostly seemed to speak the language) was enthralled and absolutely loving it. Laughing along, calling out words and dancing in their seats. So I know it was a good show, it just wasn't for me personally.

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