Original Rio samba star
Samba, the talismanic soundtrack of Rio de Janeiro, is part of Wilson das Neves'DNA. And this charming 76 year old has made a unique and treasur.
His fascination with drums began young, rooted in the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble, which
is the source of so many Brazilian rhythms. Aged 14, Wilson began his studies with the
legendary Edgard Nunes Rocca (Bituca) and his first gigs were with jazz and orchestral
ensembles. Early fore-runners like Luciano Perrone had finally convinced fellow orchestra
members to accept drummers as bona-fide erudite musicians, and Wilson took up the baton,
playing all the grand dance-halls and theatres in Rio. He has been a cornerstone of MPB
(Popular Brazilian Music) for over 50 years, making his mark as a musician with an
extraordinary talent for converting Afro-Brazilian rhythms to the drum-kit. "The drum-kit is
American, it wasn't invented for samba" says Wilson "we had to find ways to make it our
own." His superlative technique and mischievous charm have made him a legend in Brazil,
and his celebrated status as a world-class drummer makes him their very own Art Blakey,
Elvin Jones or Tony Allen. He has been a sought-after session player and song-writer since the 1960s, and has performed and recorded with all the greats of Brazilian music including Clara Nunes, Chico Buarque, Tom Jobim, Elizete Cardoso, Beth Carvalho, Roberto Carlos, Elis Regina and Elza Soares and with international names such as Sarah Vaughan, Sean Lennon and Michel Legrand.
And right now, aged 76, he continues to be an active and integral part of Rio's music scene. He's a key figure with hip samba big-band Orquestra Imperial, whose other members are all 40 years his junior. He's a long-time member of the Imperio Serrano, one of Rio's oldest samba schools. Wilson has also recently re-activated his cult 1960s Afro-Brazilian bossa project Os
Ipanemas, and plays regularly with Chico Buarque, as he has done for over 25 years. "He's the heartbeat of the band, the thermometer, the team coach, a great story-teller and our guru", says Buarque.
Pra Gente Fazer Mais Um Samba (Let's Do Another Samba)
On this new solo album, which features 13 new tracks, all written by Das Neves (lead
vocals/drums), he brings classic samba to the fore. For Wilson this is only natural: "In Brazil, samba is everything. And it's forever. There have been lots of 'golden ages' in Brazilian music but samba is always in our hearts. It's not a question of what's past or present, samba is eternal." Pra Gente Fazer Mais Um Samba (Let's Do Another Samba) flows into this continuum, channeling Wilson's first passion and giving us yet another chapter in Rio's story of samba. It was recorded with his own band and friends; Andre Tandeta (drums), Don Chacal & Zero (percussion), Joao Reboucas (piano), Ze Luiz Maia (bass), Ze Carlos Bigorna (sax) and special guests such as trombonist Vittor Santos and the new voice of Rio's samba, Mariana Bernardes. Lyrics on most tracks come courtesy of the great Brazilian poet Paulo Cesar Pinheiro.
The album is filled with the breezy elegance and nonchalant swing of a master in his element. Wilson's vocals give a bittersweet melancholy to the songs while the female choruses conjure up vintage 1950s Lapa (the
neighbourhood which is Rio's samba heartland). Honeyed melodies sway with romance like on 'Estava Faltando Voce' and 'Coquetel', the tale of an intoxicating love affair which ends in heartbreak. On 'Folha No Ar' and 'Minha Trajetoria' the paces eases back to the classic slow tempo of samba-cancao (sung samba). The album closes with 'Velha Guarda do Imperio', Wilson's tribute to the deep heritage of his beloved Imperio Serrano a renowned samba school with a history going back to 1947.
Across the decades, Wilson das Neves has played samba in all kinds of places and all kinds of ways, from street samba to orchestral ensembles, carnival to concert halls, from Rio to London and Tokyo. Having been the heartbeat at the core of so much Brazilian music, Wilson das Neves is a cherished, playful artist
who has samba in his bones, one of the true voices of Brazil's beautiful musical
past, present and future.
This album, released in Europe by Totolo Records/Harmonia Mundi and in Brazil by MPB/Universal Music were awarded as Best Samba Album of the year by the most prestigious Brazilian Music prize, "Premio da Musica Brasileira" in 2011. This year, 2014, Wilson das Neves won another award with the music "Samba do João", inspirated by his grandson.
Wilson Das Neves discography (solo albums):
4 first solo albums performed as drummer / band leader:
1968 - Juventude 2000
1969 - Som Quente e o Das Neves
1970 - Samba Tropi
1976 - O Som Quente e o Das Neves
4 albums bellow performed as Singer:
1996 - O Som Sagrado de Wilson Das Neves
2004 - Brasao de Orfeu
2010 - Pra Gente Fazer Mais Um Samba
2012 - Se me chamar, Ô Sorte!