LIVE: Arthur Verocai at the Los Angleles Theatre Center
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Photo credit: Michael Park – www.mochilla.com
Even in his native Brazil, Arthur Verocai is not a household name. The arranger and composer, who worked behind he scenes through most of his life, put all he could into his self titled album–a lush array of classical strings, booming brass, and Brazilian sounds released during the height of the Brazilian dictatorship–which ended up becoming a commercial failure.
After the album, it was back behind the scenes for Verocai, who became depressed, realizing that he could make more money off of 30 second jingle than the art that he truly loved.
And with that, the album was destined to live in the dust bin, as Verocai hid it away. But thanks to hip-hop–particularly such pioneers as Dilla, 9th Wonder, MF Doom, and others his 1972 project became a diamond in the rough, a shiny exception in a crate of dusty old 12 inches, and through their work his name lives on.
Arthur’s self titled 1972 Album
And it was though this that we found ourselves at the Los Angeles Theatre Center for Arthur’s second only performance of his album in full. In a result, the night was magical.
In an intimate setting–a private RSVP only concert with such artists as Cut Chemist in the building and even the reclusive Madlib on the guestlist–Arthur and his 12 piece band were able to recreate the magic from the previous Timeless performance. With vocals by… and a string section hemmed by the amazing Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, the beautiful acoustics created some of the most crisp and clear sounds that you will ever here.
Starting off playing on a solemn guitar, Verocai began to take us through a musical journey through his native homeland. With the raspy horns of “Balida 45,” or the swirling strings of “Sucuri,” we all seemed transported thousands of miles away.
The standout song, is the fabulous “Na Boca Do Sol,” a track which has been sampled by MF Doom, and interestingly, 9th Wonder for-Ludacris. As NPR points out, just like fellow string master David Axelrod’s “Holy Thursday,” (sampled by Dre)–a track that becomes a “hit” thanks to the hip-hop community.
The soul orchestras of the 60s and 70s have disappeared thanks to changing tastes and record label cuts. And unfortunately, putting together complex orchestras has proven to be expensive, as the soul orchestras of the 60s and 70s have disappeared thanks to changing tastes and record label cuts.
The result? That Friday night might have been one of the few times we will ever see an orchestra of that caliper on American soil. With the art of sampling proving to be cost prohibitive, who knows when the next time we will ever re-discover an artist of this caliper.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with Verocai’s work, or you have been a fan all along, that Friday night touched every single person in the audience. After almost 30 years of obscurity, it’s about time that masters like Verocai get their just due.