tue 11/12/2018

Tim Maia tribute, The Jazz Café review - the Brazilian wild soul legend revival continues | reviews, news & interviews

Tim Maia tribute, The Jazz Café review - the Brazilian wild soul legend revival continues

Tim Maia tribute, The Jazz Café review - the Brazilian wild soul legend revival continues

Tribute to funky Brazilian soul star steams up a freezing London night

Tim Maia: 'HIs raspy, soulful voice was somewhere adjacent to Luther Vandross or even Barry White'

The packed crowd at the Jazz Café was fired up by a sizzling samba soul band led by Kita Steuer on bass and vocals, singing along to a production line of hits, complete with dynamic brass section and superior percussion. All songs by a singular Brazilian artist, Tim Maia, who died 20 years ago and whose music was being celebrated.

We do live in a tribute act world these days – what started with the Bootleg Beatles and at least 15 Abba tribute bands has become universal and spread to more cult artists. Upcoming just at the Jazz Café include evenings dedicated to Serge Gainsbourg, Gil Scott-Heron and Arthur Russell.

He got his first worldwide release on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label

Tim Maia was a self-destructive and brilliant star, a drug addict whose favourite cocktail was cocaine, marijuana and alcohol who died, burned-out, at 50. He pioneered a style that mixed American funk, disco and psychedelia mixed with local samba, baião and xaxado styles. HIs raspy, soulful voice was somewhere adjacent to Luther Vandross or even Barry White.

He lived for a while in the US, and was jailed for marijuana possession and deported, so was one of few Brazilian artists to be able to sing English idiomatically and with only a trace of an accent. He temporarily forsook alcohol and drugs when he joined a cult called Rational Culture, whose leader's compound had an outhouse specially to house aliens. During this period he produced some of his finest work.

The Tim Maia revival was helped by São Paulo’s Trama Records re-releases but he got his first worldwide release a few years back on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label (Byrne has form in reviving the careers of Brazilian eccentrics, notably Tom Zé – he played a track of Zé on this week’s Desert Island Discs). Were he alive, record companies might think twice about signing him – he once brought in a couple of Doberman Pinscher dogs to threaten the label boss, loved playing with his machine guns, brought 250 tabs of acid in to turn every one on at his label, and was involved with well over 100 lawsuits, often missing gigs because he too stoned to perform.

At the Jazz Café, Kita Steuer and his Samba Soul Transatlantico were strongest on the uptempo Maia soul numbers like “Que Beleza”, less so on more ballady tracks like “Vocé”. Sure, the different productions and particular flavour of different eras of Tim Maia was going to be difficult to reproduce, but what they lacked in precise retro sound and atomosphere (and the strings of some of his hits) they made up for in sheer enthusiasm and joyful pizzazz. The vocals were never going to have that Maia soul charisma exactly, but the audience didn't care. And no doubt renowned Brazilian DJ Fabricio D. Vyzor would be playing the real thing at the after-party anyway.

He pioneered a style that mixed American funk, disco and psychedelia mixed with local samba, baião and xaxado styles

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4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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