Tag Archives: Uruguay

Interview with Valeria Matzner

Uruguayan jazz vocalist and songwriter Valeria Matzner has a new album recorded in Canada titled Anima. She incorporates exciting Brazilian and electronic music elements. Valeria discusses her work with World Music Central.

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

I always start my compositions with a melodic line. In my opinion, a good melodic line makes or breaks a song and if it is strong, it should be able to stand alone. Then comes the rhythmic idea and the harmony. Because of my background, I like rhythms that are syncopated. I also like harmonies that create tension and release and are somehow unpredictable.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Too many artists have inspired me but I would say that my way of singing is definitely inspired by Brazilian singers like Elis Regina, Maria Rita and Joyce, among others. My compositions, however, are inspired by every inspiring musician and music I have ever heard from the Beatles to Piazzolla, from Gotan Project to Ruben Rada from Jorge Drexler to Radiohead from Jazzanova to Mercedes Sosa, Charly Garcia and from Fito Paez to Nirvana. I am a musical sponge, I absorb many styles and then come up with my own thing.

Uruguay has a great tango and candombe tradition, but you seem to be more influenced by Brazilian music. How did you come in contact with Brazilian music?

My mom loves Brazilian music so she would often play it at home. I love the way of singing: effortless, rhythmically challenging and so deceivingly simple. I also love the incredible composer from Brazil like Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque, Joao Gilberto, Jobim, Lenine, etc, etc.


Valeria Matzner – Photo by Bryan Blair


You sing in various languages but when you sing in Spanish, it feels more natural. Will you continue singing in Spanish?

Absolutely, Spanish is my first language and I will always sing in it. But I also think that singing in different languages allows me the opportunity to communicate with a larger audience.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

I made my first recording when I was 19. I was the singer and composer of a grunge rock band fused with the native sounds of Ecuador and Peru. In 1994 my band was invited to play at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, followed by a tour in the US.

Before all that, however, I studied classical guitar and was part of the Uruguayan national choir. Then I moved to Buenos Aires in the mid 1980s where I found myself in the middle of a musical movement that was sweeping the nation and taking over radio stations and venues. When I went back to Uruguay I started my own band and that was it until I moved to Canada.

In Vancouver I studied jazz and electronic music composition and it was there, at music school, that I started realizing the incredibly rich musical background of my native South America. I decided to fully embrace my musical background and a fusion of all my different influences was born.



How are you adapting to life in Canada?

It was very difficult at first. I felt like a “frog from a different pond” (como sapo de otro pozo) but I was slowly able to find my place and to learn to appreciate the Canadian ways of thinking and behaving. Canada is a country of immigrants and Canadians, for the most part, are very open to embracing different cultures. Toronto, specially, is a very multicultural city with people of all religious, cultural and musical backgrounds. I love that.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?

Wow, too many to name but off the top of my head I would say Jorge Drexler and Bono for their lyrics and poetic way of looking at life, Milton Nascimento and Peter Gabriel for their musicality, Elis Regina for her phrasing, David Bowie for his edge, Radiohead for their creative force and any new and up and coming musician who I find interesting.


Valeria Matzner – Anima


Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

At the moment I am concentrating on promoting my album, Anima, putting a tour together and writing music for my next album.


Artist Profiles: Roberto Perera

Roberto Perera

Roberto Perera was born in 1952 in Montevideo, Uruguay. His romance with the Paraguayan harp can be traced all the way back to 1964 when the 12-year-old aspiring musician enrolled at the Conservatory of Modern Music in his hometown of Montevideo the capital city of Uruguay.

His multicultural beginnings not doubt played a part in his decision to embrace the 36-string Paraguayan harp and transform the native Indoamerican instrument to incorporate the influences of Latin, pop, jazz, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music styles. “The Paraguayan harp was considered an instrument merely to play folk music,” says Perera.

His complex technique includes precisely bending the strings to create sharps and flats, while gliding across the harp in a seemingly effortless fashion, giving little indication of the tremendous skill and discipline that’s required.

Roberto Perera’s professional career did not begin until 1973. After completing his course of musical studies, Perera moved to the United States in search of wider musical opportunities.
Perera’s point of entry was New York City, where he worked before moving south to Florida. Miami had a burgeoning Latin music scene at the time and Roberto quickly gained status as one of the hot musicians around town.

By the time his self-produced debut Erotica was released by Epic Records in 1990 (re-released by Heads Up in 1997) Perera had already earned a reputation as a pioneer of the electro-acoustic harp.

Perera began his association with Heads Up International in 1991 with the release of Passion, Illusions & Fantasies an album which received overwhelming critical acclaim throughout the Americas and Europe.

The following year Perera released Christmas Fantasies. On his three subsequent releases for Heads Up: Seduction (1994) Harp & Soul (1996) and In the Mood (2000) Perera continued to explore the lush musical landscapes.

My goal has always been to approach the harp in an unorthodox manner – to stylistically play ideas not normally associated with the instrument,” Perera says. “About the time I started playing harp the Beatles were very popular. I listened to a lot of Brazilian music pop from the U.S. tango and folk music. What I really liked was the folk music from Paraguay and soon started mixing using the techniques of folk music to play Beatles tunes.”


Erotica (Epic Records 1990/re-released by Heads Up International in 1997)
Passion, Illusions & Fantasies (OXCD 313 1991)
Dreams and Desires (OXCD 318 1992)
Seduction (Heads Up International, 1994)
Christmas Fantasies (Heads Up International, 1993)
Harp & Soul (Heads Up International, 1996)
In the Mood (Heads Up International, 2000)
Sensual (Heads Up International, 2002)
Magical (Heads Up International, 2010)


Creation (Heads Up Records, 2007)


Artist Profiles: Raul Jaurena

Raul Jaurena

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay master bandoneon player Raul Jaurena studied with his father at an early age. By age 8 he was playing in a children’s tango orchestra and by age 15 he was a member of the very popular Donato Raciatti Orchestra in Montevideo.

He has accompanied the world’s most well-known tango singers among them Roberto Goyeneche, Edmundo Rivero, Raul Lavie, Agustin Irusta Libertad Lamarque among others and has played with the legendary Uruguayan pianist Cesar Zagnoli. He performed with Astor Piazzolla at the Montreal Jazz Festival. During the 1960’s and 1970’s he was an arranger and bandoneonist for major tango orchestras in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile.

Currently he is the musical director of the acclaimed tango ensemble New York Buenos Aires Connection whose first compact disc came out on VIA Audio and received rave reviews from critics and listeners in North and South America and in Europe. In 1995 the group released their second recording Cabarute on Lyrichord Discs. In 1996 he toured Europe and Russia with the ensemble and the Irene Hultman Dance Company (for whom he wrote a suite that won the coveted New York dance and performance award,” the Bessie”). Jaurena performs regularly with New York Buenos Aires Connection in New York City and in dance halls throughout the United States.

In 2006 he released Te Amo Tango which won the 2007 Latin Grammy for Best Tango Album.Te Amo Tango was conceived at Raul Jaurena’s successful show featuring the Sinopus String Quintet from Uruguay, pianist Octavio Brunetti and vocalist Marga Mitchell at the Thalia Spanish Theater in New York City in 2005. The recoding includes eleven original compositions and Jaurena’s bold arrangements of music by countrymen Oldimar Caceres and Edelmiro D’Amario.

Pasion por La Vida came out in 2007. It was a duet recording with pianist and composer Roger Davidson and featuring eighteen of Davidson’s original new tango compositions. Fuerza Milonguera followed with Jaurena leading his Tango Orchestra exploring the roots and traditions of tango through new and classic compositions.


Tango Bar (2001)
Te amo Tango (2006)
Fuerza Milonguera (2010)
Tango Mundo


Artist Profiles: Federico Ramos

Federico Ramos was born in the small town of 33 (Treinta y Tres) in Uruguay. He mastered the flamenco guitar at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid, Spain and hanging out with his “brothers” the gypsies of the southern Spanish coast.

Besides the guitar, Federico has mastered the saz, charango, oud and guimbri among other string instruments. Federico has played and colaborated with Jackson Browne, Milton Nascimento, Mark Isham, Strunz & Farah, and Yusef Lateef among other greats.


Artist Profiles: José Luis Pérez

Jose Luis Perez, a master candombe drummer, began to study this unique African rooted drumming style at the age of 1 in Montevideo Uruguay where he was born. He pursued advanced studies at the National Conservatory of Uruguay and traveled to Brazil and played with Milton Nascimento and Astrud Gilberto among other Brazilian greats.

In 1979 he moved to Sweden where he founded the Latin Lover Jazz-Candombe ensamble that released two LPs and toured Europe. Later, Jose Luis moved to the United States where he played with Yusef Lateef, Benny Carter and Adam Rudolf.


Artist Profiles: Luis Di Matteo

Luis Di Matteo is one of the great bandoneonistas from South America. Living in Montevideo, Uruguay, Di Matteo has carried bandoneon music the furthest in a classical direction after the death of Astor Piazzolla. From the very beginning of his musical career he has shown an impressive independence in his musical thinking and concert performances.

Luis Di Matteo was born in 1934. He began his musical education at the conservatory in his native city Montevideo Uruguay. In 1962 he founded his first ensemble and in 198 he gave his first performances in Europe. Between 1983 and 1986 he cooperated with the music conservatory of Detmold, Germany. In 1987 he wrote the music for the Swedish film production Black Dawn/Los Dueños del Silencio. He took the opportunity of working and recording with a string orchestra for the first time in 199/91. In the Russian city of Uljanowsk (Lenin’s birthplace) he recorded compositions of his own with the chamber soloists of the Uljanowsk National Symphony Orchestra. The premier of his latest major composition Concierto para contrabajo y orquesta de cuerdas (Concert for double bass and string orchestra) performed by the Montevideo Philharmonic Orchestra took place in Montevideo in the summer of 1995.

The combination of strings and bandoneon have had a long tradition in South America: since the triumphal career of the bandoneon (invented by the German Karl Band) began there in the middle of the 19th century strings have been an integral part of the “orchesta típica” (two bandoneons two fiddles acoustic bass and a piano). However Matteo’s intensive collaboration with strings denotes a decisive step forward in the development of bandoneon music. He has broken with the old cliché that forever tied the bandoneon to the sweet and painful sound of the Tango. Instead Di Matteo in his compositions for this rather difficult instrument has found a form of personal expression that clearly places him within the Western music tradition.

Di Matteo has not only been influenced by traditional South American music but also increasingly by classical music including the modern masters such as Arnold Schönberg. With his compositions for bandoneon and strings he opens our eyes for a new look at the bandoneon’s possibilities of expression.


Artist Profiles: Jorge Drexler

Jorge Drexler

Jorge Abner Drexler Prada was born on September 21, 1964 in Uruguay. He is a renowned singer-songwriter and a medical doctor specialized in otolaryngology.

Jorge Drexler’s career path initially followed in the family tradition – his parents and siblings are all doctors. He received a medical education specializing in ear nose and throat. Although medicine was the family profession music and literature were an integral part of his upbringing.

In 1992 while still practicing medicine Drexler released his first album La Luz Que Sabe Robar and two years later followed that with Radar. Though the albums were well received in Uruguay, success in Latin America’s smallest country of 3 million inhabitants was not enough to sustain a career.

Renowned Spanish singer-songwriter Joaquin Sabina discovered Drexler at a performance at the Teatro de Verano in Montevideo in 1994. He urged the Uruguayan musician to go to Spain where he was sure there would be a keen interest in Drexler’s well-crafted songs.

Drexler relocated to Madrid in 1995. In Spain’s multicultural capital, he was soon placing songs with several well-known artists including the Cuban legend Pablo Milanés, Ana Belén, Victor Manuel, Rosario Flores, Neneh Cherry, Lorenzo Jovanotti, Paulinho Moska and Miguel Rios and shared the stage with many of them as well. In Spain, Drexler has released a number of albums. Vaivewn (1996) was produced by Gonzalo Lasheras songs written with Luis Eduardo Aute, Joaquin Sabina and Javier Alvarez.

Llueve (1998) had an experimental flavor as the singer-songwriter mixed South American milongas, zambas and candombes with a pop rhythm and sampled nature’s sounds of rain, waves and wind.

Frontera (1999) considered by many to be Drexler’s artistic breakthrough was recorded in Uruguay with two members of the funk/hip-hop group Peyote Asesino, Carlos Casacuberta and Juan Campodónico (of the Bajofondo Tango Club) as co-producers. Drexler played the traditional Uruguayan styles of candombe and murga against house and drum ‘n’ bass rhythms creating a musical base from which to express his nostalgia and longing for his distant homeland.

Jorge Drexler

The resulting album opened new doors in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. Sea (2001) was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Album in 2002. In 2003 Drexler co-authored the international hit song “Perfume”; it appeared on the album Bajofondo Tango Club which was awarded both a Latin Grammy and Argentina’s Premio Gardel.

Jorge Drexler came to the world’s attention with his unprecedented 2005 Academy Award for Best Song From a Film. His song “Al Otro Lado del Rio,” from the acclaimed movie The Motorcycle Diaries was the first Spanish-language song ever to be nominated and the first foreign-language song in the Academy’s 77-year history to actually win.

Drexler’s first American release was his seventh album Eco which came out just after the Academy Awards ceremony. His eighth recording, 12 Segundos de Oscuridad (Twelve Seconds of Darkness) was released in the U.S. in February 2007 and includes Drexler’s English debut with the 1994 Radiohead track,High and Dry.” 12 Segundos de Oscuridad was already praised in Spain and Latin America as the most personally revealing album of his career.

His 2014 album Bailar en la Cueva was recorded in Colombia and features well-known artists: Caetano Veloso, Ana Tijoux, Bomba Estéreo, and Eduardo Cabra (Calle 13).

Drexler received two Latin Grammy Awards, for Best Singer-Songwriter Album and Record of the Year in 2014. He also received the prestigious Goya Award in 2010 with the song “Que El Soneto Nos Tome Por Sorpresa”, written for the Spanish film Lope. Also in 2014, he was named Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic for his musical contributions.


La luz que sabe robar (Ayui, 1992)
Radar (Ayui, 1994)
Vaivén (Virgin, 1996)
Llueve (Virgin, 1997)
Frontera (Virgin, 1999)
Sea (Virgin, 2001)
Eco (Dro, 2004)
12 Segundos de Oscuridad (2006)
Cara B (2008)
Amar la Trama (2010)
Bailar en la cueva (Warner, 2014)

website: www.jorgedrexler.com


Artist profiles: Hugo Fattoruso

Hugo Fattoruso

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Hugo Fattoruso began his musical career as a prodigious and somewhat reluctant piano student at the age of four. By the time he was nine his father Antonio formed El Trio Fattoruso by drafting Hugo’s younger brother Jorge on drums with Hugo on accordion and Antonio on “inverted bucket bass” (using a broom as the neck and a cord as the instrument’s single string).

This trio performed in street festivals covering the variety of styles used in Uruguay’s carnivals (boleros, murgas, tangos, etc.) and giving Hugo an education in the rich harmonic stuff of disparate musical styles. At the age of 16 Hugo moved to the upright bass and began his tenure as the under-aged member of The Hot Blowers a swing band that toured throughout Latin America in the late 195s. This period could be seen as a second important milestone in Hugo’s harmonic education hammering home the concepts of improvisation and musical interplay.

By the early 196s rock ‘n’ roll began to shake the world’s foundation and Hugo set out to express himself in that medium by forming Los Shakers where he and his brother shared song writing singing and guitar responsibilities. Los Shakers Hugo Fattoruso (guitar voice) Osvaldo Fattoruso (guitar voice) Roberto “Pelin” Capobianco (bass voice) Carlos “Caio” Vila (drums voice) were a huge success throughout Latin America as they were able to mold the complexities of bossa’s harmonies Uruguay’s urban song style candombe rhythms and the backbeat of rock into a new and contagious form.

By the late 1960s the influence of jazz and of the Afro-Uruguayan rhythm of candombe took Hugo to New York City where he formed the group Opa. In Opa Hugo played keyboards and sang while his brother played drums and childhood friend Ringo Thielmann played bass. Opa’s mixture of jazz, rock, Brazilian harmonies and rhythms and Uruguay’s African-flavored music (candombe) gave this band a distinctive voice and garnered them recognition among musicians in the then growing “Latin jazz” scene. Opa released two albums produced by Airto Moreira, ‘Goldenwings’ and ‘Magic Time’. Opa’s music served to influence the next generation of Uruguayan musicians continuing the Fattoruso’s impact on Uruguayan musical culture.

From that point on Hugo traveled the U.S. and worked with a variety of artists ranging from Hermeto Pascoal to Ron Carter to The Dixie Dregs. After working in the U.S. with Milton Nascimento Hugo spent several years living in Rio de Janeiro where he worked with several prominent Brazilian artists including Djavan Geraldo Azevedo Chico Buarque de Holanda Nana Vasconcelos and Toninho Horta.

He has recorded extensively with Milton Nascimento on the records ‘Milton’ ‘Journey To Dawn’ ‘Planeta Blue Na Estrada Do Sol’ ‘Angelus’ and most recently the CD ‘Nascimento’ winner of the 1997 World Music Grammy Award. In addition to his piano and accordion playing the compositions on the release ‘Nascimento’ were co-arranged by Milton and Hugo.


Varios Nombres (Melopea CDMSE 518)

En Blanco y Negro РLas Aventuras de Fattoruso y Rada with Rub̩n Rada (Melopea CDMSE 511, 1991)

Homework (Big World, 1998)

with Opa:

Goldenwings (LP: Milestone 969 CD: Milestone 4774-2, 1976)

Magic Time (Milestone, 1977)