By Stephanie Nebehay
MONTREUX, Switzerland, July 10 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Gilberto
Gil showcased joyful African-inspired music despite being tinged
with themes of poverty, slavery and painful reconciliation at
the Montreux Jazz Festival on Tuesday night.
Teaming up with South African folk star Vusi Mahlasela also
on guitar, Gil’s “Viramundo” concert offered a sneak preview of
an upcoming documentary on his road trip rich in cross-cultural
South African Paul Hanmer was on piano, along with
Brazilians Gustavo Di Dalva on drums and guitarist Sergio
Chiavazzoli, for the nearly two-hour set in Miles Davis Hall,
which was backed by a Swiss orchestra, the Lausanne Sinfonietta.
“We are Africans in Brazil, especially when it comes to
music. We are very African already in Brazil,” Gil told Reuters
in an interview in the chalet of festival founder Claude Nobs
hours before the show.
“What we sing about, our subjects, we have lots of things in
common like the apartheid situation, hunger, poverty,
submission, humiliation and exploitation – all of that. The
black slaves in Brazil went through the same thing that tribes
had to go through when they worked in the gold mines in South
“Ba Kae”, “Lamento Sertanejo” and “Raca Humana” were among
the tracks performed by the duo, who opened for American
chanteuse Melody Gardot.
Gil arrived a few days early in Switzerland for his 10th
appearance at one of Europe’s most prestigious music festivals.
Last weekend in a Swiss studio, he recorded 10 songs for the
soundtrack of “Viramundo – a Journey with Gilberto Gil,” which
follows him on a musical tour of the southern hemisphere, via
Brazil, South Africa and Australia, while examining racial