When I first heard about Mochilla's plan to bring the all-but-forgotten Brazilian musician, arranger and cult-favorite Arthur Verocai to L.A. to perform his self-titled 1972 album live, I was kind of dumbfounded. Really, of all the people to invite, why pick this footnote from Brazilian MPB (Musica Popular Brasil ie "mainstream, sophisticated pop music" think Elis Regina or Milton Nascimento)? Verocai is about as obscure in Brazil as David Axelrod is here in the states, except that Verocai only had one release under his own name until 2005. Having witnessed the performance first hand this past weekend I finally get the vision of Mochilla front-man Brian Cross (and friends) who came up with this idea.
First off, the original album is phenomenal and perfectly suited for this grandiose performance with a string section, horn section, percussionists, two keyboard players, two guitarists and alternating stand-up and electric bass . . . and most importantly the ensemble pulled it off perfectly. The performance sounded great. Secondly, it was staggering to think that this was the first time that these songs had ever been performed live and the second time they have been performed at all (the first time being in the studio and most likely that wasn't all 36 pieces playing live at the same time). Lastly, it was a great concept to take this relatively obscure document from 1972 performed in 2009 and restoring it to its deserved place in history. Bottom line is that this recording may be extremely obscure and therefore considered esoteric, but the music is so good it deserves to be heard and in its original form, or better than that its original form performed LIVE!
Congrats to the entire Mochilla crew for a great show!
Even though he has a new album out on Far Out, called Encore, and his original 1972 self-titled album was reissued by Ubiquity, both are now out of print or at least out of stock at Dustygroove. If you wanna know how much OG Verocai-related vinyl goes for, here's a sampling. I personally know of one person (DJ Nuts) who owns an original Arthur Verocai album.
I can't not mention the universe of stars and legendary musicians that were part of these 36 pieces. You can kind of make them out in the picture, so I'll try to point them out in the picture.
1) Arthur Verocai, man of the hour (center stage in suit, very skinny, clapping in direction of the string section)
2) Airto Moreira (right below the bottom right corner of the screen)
3) Ivan "Mamao" Conti, drummer from Azymuth (middle, clapping hands with white hair)
4) Carlos Dafe (below Airto with "panama hat")
5) Jose Roberto Bertrami, keyboards from Azymuth - played Hammond B-3 for the show (furthest right in white baseball cap)
6) Justo Almario, saxophone (in red shirt on far left clapping and bit blurry)
Arthur Verocai - Presente Grego
This is for the beat-heads. What a great thing to hear those horn swells live!
Arthur Verocai - Pelas Sombras
What I didn't know until recently was that the male vocal on the original recording was noneother than Carlos Dafe and he was in the flesh for the performance as well. He killed it on this one! A soaring and impassioned vocal part that made my hair stand on end!
Arthur Verocai - Caminho da Roça
A chill instrumental from his new album.
Arthur Verocai - Bis (featuring Azymuth)
Azymuth chipped in on a couple tracks on his new album. This is one of my favorites. Overall, the 1972 album is better but this is a very respectable follow up. And when he performed it was difficult to tell the new songs from the old having not memorized either album . . .
I just found this great interview of Verocai from recently explaining his new album "Encore" and his background:
A clip from the performance courtesy of Mochilla:
For more Verocai listening check out Loronix.