MARCH 4, 2015BY S. VICTOR AARON
In Brazil is a record co-headlined by violinist/vocalist Tim Snider and guitarist Caio Andreatta, two musicians who came up from environs nearly 7,000 miles apart, but a pair who didn’t even meet before last winter. They don’t even speak each other’s language that well. Thus, this record is not just about entertaining its listeners — which it does a fine job of doing, by the way — but serves as another example of the power of music to bring together perfect strangers and turn them into brothers.
Portland, Oregon’s Snider had already been well-traveled by the time he made that fateful trip to Brazil; learning music from locales like Span, Cuba and the college classroom, the classically trained violinist also learned guitar and dove into styles ranging from flamenco, salsa and Afro-Cuban to classical, rock and jazz. Andreatta, like Snider, had been learning and playing music his entire life, and he presently leads a popular band in Brazil called Capela.
When Tim met Caio, the musical symmetry was so right, they went into a studio in Sao Paulo and knocked out some recordings. Snider then brought the tapes back to Oregon and supplemented them with local Portland talents Max Ribner (flugelhorn) and Saeeda Wright (vocals). The end product is an album that, yes, was conceived and mostly record ‘in Brazil,’ but the influences come from all over the world.
And though Tim and Caio are very good musicians, In Brazil isn’t a “guitar and violin” record any more than it’s some bossa nova record. It does often captures the festive spirit of Brazil without relying on the same ol’ Brazilian chord changes, casting aside American stereotypes of Brazilian music and opting for original, folk-based songs that reach back further than Jobim for inspiration, while staying fresh and consistently, appealingly catchy.
Engaging and snappy tunes such as “With You” and “Saudades” (with Andreatta on ukulele) with organic, worldly arrangements and Snider’s adept vocal delivery instantly draws comparisons to Jack Johnson, but the duo also bring a great wealth of musical acumen to the table. What’s more, Snider is experienced at songcraft, having picked up a thing or two gigging with Ben Harper, whether on his own or in collaboration with Andreatta. His flamenco and reggae schooling inform “Stand for Love” as much as Andreatta’s home country, while his partner’s rhythmically-rich acoustic guitar keeps the groove strong. The Brazilian jazz-pop of “Vivian” gets a lift from Ribner’s flugelhorn, Josemir Melo’s flute and a brief but breezy solo turn on piano by Tato Andreatta.
Wright’s powerful but controlled voice is featured on a trio of tunes, starting with a duet with Snider on a song she co-wrote with him (“Ever After”) but she really shines on the “Ventre,” a strings-sweetened ballad that benefits greatly from the heaping helping of soul she adds to it. Her wordless vocals shares a lead ‘voice’ with Snider’s violin and Melo’s flute on “Rio,” which, situated right at the end of the album, is perhaps the most purely Brazilian track here.
The unlikely union of Tim Snider and Caio Andreatta resulted in music that defies geographical categorization a bit more than the album title suggests, but its appeal is undeniable no matter what part of the world you’re from. In Brazil goes on sale March 10, 2015.