REVIEW Gilberto Gil Takes Audience Around the Musical World

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Tuesday April 06, 2010

By Ron Hubbard
From the Pioneer Press

It’s no surprise that Gilberto Gil has become a successful diplomat. Arguably Brazil’s most famous musical export, Gil has also been his home country’s minister of culture and an international emissary for the United Nations. But, on Saturday night, he demonstrated to an enthusiastic audience at Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall that he also knows how to negotiate successful partnerships between very disparate musical styles.

While the samba has been the heartbeat within Gil’s music throughout his 50-year career, he’s always been a restless experimenter, finding that forms from Africa, North America, Europe and elsewhere are often a fine fit for his original songs. Yet, he can make it all sound like a seamlessly smooth intercultural concoction. And he and two acoustic collaborators made Saturday’s concert feel like a very special experience, one of those that most in attendance will likely look back upon as a landmark concert.

Over the course of two hours and 23 songs, Gil spun soundscapes with his guitarist son, Bem Gil, and cellist Jaques Morelenbaum, some as breezy as a beach in Rio de Janeiro, others as dark and discomfiting as a walk through a rough part of Sao Paolo. But each song felt like an engrossing short story, even if you didn’t speak a word of Portuguese. Gil’s musical evocation of moods and emotions made that old saw about the universal language rarely seem so deeply truthful.

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