Caetano Veloso, Teresa Cristina | Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center | International | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Caetano Veloso, Teresa Cristina

Caetano Veloso, Teresa Cristina

Henrique Alqualo; FRANCOIS GUILLOT

Caetano Veloso, Teresa Cristina 

When: Sun., Oct. 16, 7 p.m. 2016
Price: $40-$90
Brazilian icon Caetano Veloso’s late-career artistic burst—a trilogy of albums he began at 65—has delivered some of the most satisfying, exciting, and fresh sounds I’ve heard over the last decade. The vet formed a limber group with three of Rio de Janeiro’s most interesting rock musicians, and they emboldened Veloso to push his voice in new directions, taking more chances than he had since his 1972 avant-garde opus Araçá Azul. Despite working with players more than half his age, his songs are decidedly about things relevant to someone in his twilight years. Unfortunately, no Chicago presenter ever brought that group to town. This weekend he makes his first local appearance since 2002, armed only with a guitar. He’s touring in support of Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live (Nonesuch), a recent collaborative album with fellow tropicalisto Gilberto Gil on which each songwriter digs into his respective catalog in concert, singing and playing together and alone. By nature it’s a retrospective project, but there’s nothing musty or content about Veloso’s performance. His vocals on the classic “Tropicalia,” for example, sound as urgent as they did nearly five decades ago. He’s undiminished at 74, and as he proved on his brilliant eponymous 1985 album, where he tackles “Billy Jean” and Cole Porter’s “Get Out of Town,” and lays out a slew of his own classics, he can conjure a universe with nothing more than his voice and an acoustic guitar.

Over the last two decades or so few Brazilian artists have done more to energize the legacy of vintage samba as Teresa Cristina, who with her band Grupo Semente has added rich new tunes to the genre’s storied legacy while also exploring the songbook of the great Paulinho da Viola. She dispatches with her band on her recent U.S. debut, Canta Cartola (Nonesuch), instead only getting support from the seven-string acoustic guitar playing of Carlinhos Sete Cordas (literally Carlinhos Seven Strings). Cristina interprets the gorgeous songs of Cartola (ne Angenor de Oliveira), one of Rio’s most prolific and important samba composers and singers, who while in his early 30s disappeared from the scene only to be rediscovered as a car washer 15 years later and consequently enjoy a career renaissance that lasted until his death in 1980. Cristina brings a burnished depth to the music, her full-bodied voice balancing sadness and joy.

— Peter Margasak
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