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Brazil Classics 5: The Return of Tom Ze - The Hips of Tradition

Tom Zé

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Album Review

This 1992 album by Tom Zé was already produced by Luaka Bop, David Byrne's label, after his discovery by Byrne when he was almost dropping everything to return to his hometown to work in a gas station. "I don't make art, I make spoken and sung journalism." This self-coined definition by Tom Zé helps listeners understand his music. Pop music with self-made instruments, references to modern erudite music, and strong reminiscences of ancient northeastern cantigas de cego and other grooves. On this album subtitled "The Return of Tom Zé," he sticks to the concept developed in the '60s by tropicália, the movement he helped to conceptualize, which perceived music as a cultural industry production for which it is valid to take any world influences, mixing them with Brazilian rhythms, concrete poetry, existentialism, drum machine loops (added later), pop culture, contemporary urban grooves, and everything else that eventually could be thought of. Tom Zé has lots of thoughts to express in his lyrics, which had an English version in the inlay, and this release may be very appealing for those who are into world music. It even explores some indigenous styles, delivered in an almost pure form. But, as he himself put out, his albums shouldn't be listened to for beautiful melodies.

Biography

Born: 1936 in Bahia, Brazil

Genre: Brazilian

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Tom Zé began his career together with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Maria Bethânia. As a composer, he influenced Caetano and many others and delivered an expressive body of work through his own discography. A restless thinker, he was adept at modern erudite music experimentations, yet he was always ignored by both industry and audiences until he was discovered by David...
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Brazil Classics 5: The Return of Tom Ze - The Hips of Tradition, Tom Zé
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