Tag Archives: Uruguayan music

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.

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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.

Discography:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Discography

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

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