REVIEW: Vinicius Cantuaria solo at the Vortex

Viniicius Cantuaria

Vinicius Cantuaria solo
(Vortex, 10th October 2016. Second night of two. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

In his classic 1962 bossa nova song Desafinado Antonio Carlos Jobim took his harmonies on a meandering journey. In the wrong hands, the whole thing can often sound laboured, over-deliberate, with too much mirror-signal-manoeuvre. But when Vinicius Cantuaria sings it, as he did last night at the Vortex, he glides effortlessly over it. He sleep-walks weightlessly through those changes, everything – even unworldly lyrics such as ” Fotografei você na minha Rolleiflex” – become as natural as breathing.

Just one man with his nylon stringed guitar might sound like a limiting format, but Cantuaria’s ineffably gentle authority in these classic songs, his subtle varieties of delivery and delay brought a quite wonderful completeness. His rhythm section consists of his metronomic on-the-beat left foot, plus various vocal tuttings and other consonants plus the rhythmic accompanying patterns from his guitar. His vocal presence – particularly on Insensatez which was devastatingly quiet – is mesmerising. Corcovado was wistful, as if half-remembered, drifting off dreamily into wordlessness.

He chose to perform just relatively one set last night, mostly focussing on the songs from the 2015 album on Sunnyside, Vinicius Canta Antonio Carlos Jobim. Desafinado was an exception – it is not on the album. The gig was straightforward and direct, in a way that the album mostly misses. The majority of the tracks on the CD were recorded in a studio inTokyo, and there is much fuss and an endless parade of guests – Joyce Moreno, Melody Gardot, Bill Frisell, cellist Ayumi Hashimoto….They are all fine contributors in their own right, but the three tracks recorded in Rio – notably Vivo Sonhando – where Cantuaria is allowed to be alone and unaided are the highlight of the album. Last night we heard, in essence, the fine solo album which is trying to escape from Vinicius Canta Antonio Carlos Jobim, and which would show this unique performer on the right terms

As a performance, the 50 minutes of magic which Cantuaria delivered to a tiny audience at the Vortex last night were all that this writer could ever want or need.

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