|Mishka Adams and Beto Caletti
A new duo of singer MISHKA ADAMS and singer/guitarist BETO CALETTI perform music in which they “swim in the sea of South American music”. They have made an “album full of love” entitled Puentes Invisibiles (Invisible Bridges). There is also a workshop on Latin American music happening on 3 June. They both explained the background to their new collaboration to Sebastian:
LJN: The name of Beto Caletti might need some explaining – can you tell us about him. I understand he’s an Argentinian – but he has also a deep understanding of Brazilian music?
Mishka Adams: Here’s a quick biography: “Beto, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, began as a guitarist, studying classical and folklore in the University of La Plata. He is a renowned composer, performer and educator of South American music He has published three guitar books focused on the playing, interpretation, and improvisation of South American music. In his concerts he performs candombes, zambas, chacareras, bossa nova and boleros: Songs from South America.”
Beto Caletti: Argentina and Brazil are very close, not only geographically, but musically. In my case I’ve been always attracted by African-roots music (and I never liked borders) so I found it so natural to swim in the sea of South American music.
LJN: And Beto you have worked with the great Ivan Lins?
BC: I worked with his band and composed several songs with his lyric writer Celso Viáfora for my album Tess. Ivan was going to sing one of the songs but finally he couldn’t. He was very generous writing about me for that album, I feel he is one of the big masters of song writing.
LJN: And right from the outset there is some astonishing work from you, Beto, on guitar- where does that come from?
BC: I feel the guitar as a percussion instrument, strings can be as drums in Afro-American music, and if you add the sophistication that people like Tom Jobim or Ivan Lins brought to the popular music, the guitar can really surprise you, it can be amazing. I like to follow that path.
LJN: And, Mishka, you were aware of Beto’s music before you actually met him…
MA: I was! In fact, I was a huge fan and began listening to his music a whole year before we actually met – a very close mutual friend of ours, Guillermo Rozenthuler, played me some of his songs as we drove home from a gig. I was astonished. Guille turned to me and said, “Are you in love?” And I said “Yes.” From that moment I listened to Beto’s music almost every day – something about his songs, the way he played and the sound of his voice always put a smile on my face, and gave me the feeling of being in love, though I knew absolutely nothing about him! We wrote very briefly but no more contact was made until Guille brought his partner and baby home to Buenos Aires and told Beto to look me up. An online exchange began, and it turned out he loved my music too! We set up some gigs and he flew to London.
LJN: And these days you are a couple…
MA: Yes, and we are very blessed to have met each other. To get to know someone both personally and musically and to have love between you is a wonderful gift.
BC: We came from the most distant places – Argentina and The Philippines are on opposite sides of the globe. We met in London, in the middle, and we felt deeply connected from the first moment. Music was the starting point to find a lot of deep coincidences between us, so we made our road from the songs, we discovered each other and now we are telling our story though these songs. That’s why this album is full of love.
LJN: What does the album title mean?
BC: The last song we made for this recording was Puentes Invisibles and it brought the title of the album in a natural way. This Argentinean zamba talks about the invisible bridges that love weaves to cross distances. We feel those bridges in our lives and they are so alive in the album: this project itself is a bridge that connects languages, countries, music and the different cultures we come from.
MA: In a way, it also felt as though those bridges formed long before our meeting – that the connections were forming well before we were even aware of them.
LJN: And that is a theme running through the album?
BC: Yes, that’s why we found that would be the natural title, you can hear a lot of bridges in these songs, we are always crossing borders: An Argentinean chacarera in English, a Brazilian baião in Filipino… we are telling our story from different points of view, with no preconceptions for the instruments we use… I think we didn’t realized the musical bridges we were crossing while we were making it, it came so naturally!
LJN: Most people will have heard of samba. But what are chacarera and milonga? And how do those rhythms styles become part of your new songs?
BC: The chacarera is a traditional dance from Santiago del Estero, Argentina, and the milonga is a dance from Uruguay and Buenos Aires related to the tango. We play those and other styles in a free way, mixing elements from here and there.
MA: There is also Argentinian zamba on the album, which is from the north of Argentina. Many of these styles were first introduced to me by Guillermo, and playing and composing in these styles with Beto has been really fun and interesting. I’ve learned a huge amount over the past year! Each time you learn something new you are reminded of how much you don’t know, how much there is to discover.
LJN: Who is in the band on the album?
MA: On the album we have two wonderful Argentinian musicians – Nuria Martinez on flutes and Diego Alejandro on drums. Diego and Beto have worked together for many years and have a wonderful connection. We also have a wonderful piano player called Pedro Carneiro Silva from Brazil, whom I first met in Berlin through a mutual musician friend based in London. I wrote Puso Mo with him during the time that I was living there… While we were working on the album he was actually teaching at a music college in Delhi, so the piano part for that track was recorded in India!
LJN: And you have some wonderful accordion (bandoneon?) playing…
BC: It’s a melodica playing in the style of the accordion. Aside from the beautiful timbre it is a way to contrast the string instruments that dominate the arrangements.
LJN: And you both sing in… four (?) languages…
Both: That’s one of the things people enjoy about the concerts, the mix of English, Portuguese, Spanish and Filipino make it very dynamic. These are the four languages that we speak between us. We are both great lovers of languages, and as a singer it is very exciting to explore not only the styles of music from different countries but the way different languages feel in the mouth as you sing, how each one brings out a different colour in the voice, and each one allows you to express yourself slightly differently. It’s like having an enormous palette of colours!
LJN: And La Cuerda is just so… happy!
BC: The fast melody over a simple harmony shows the happiest side of the music of Buenos Aires, this kind of milonga with no words contrasts a lot with the melancholic taste of the tango.
LJN: Where can we hear you live?
Both: We will be launching the album on 11 June at Pizza Express Jazz Club on Dean Street. We’ll be joined by the wonderful Adriano Adewale on percussion, Javier Fioramontion bass, and Guillermo Rozenthuler as special guest.
MA: For me, it is a coming together of two worlds. I’m so happy we have the opportunity to bring this music to London, and that I get to sing on stage with my favourite musicians!
BC: For me it will be a pleasure to share our music with these beautiful musicians and with the people of London, I hope you will enjoy our music as much as we do! (pp)
LINKS: Mishka Adams website
Beto Caletti website
Bookings for 11 June
Sample track for download Mil Vezes (link also has lyrics)
WORKSHOP in Latin American music on 3 June