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Os Ipanemas - In Conversation
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To be fair their music isn’t consciously ‘vintage’ it’s merely the same music the septuagenarians have been playing all their lives. When asked if he is trying to recreate the sound of a forgotten Rio, or achieve something more contemporary, Wilson shrugs off the question and answers with a smile — a pattern that continues throughout the interview.
While the world has embraced bossa nova it has been less accepting of his blend of Rio samba — something he hopes to change during his time in Europe
“We play the same music but it comes out better. There is something sacred about music — every time you play it, it gets better.”
The Ipanemas sound, that of Wilson das Neves (percussion/vocals) and Neco (guitar), is of 1960s Rio — Afro-bossa, gentle samba and laid back vocals. It’s of a time, we are told, of Rio in its hey day, its glory days — but was it really? “At least I think so,” says Wilson, “Musically it was the place to play, the place to be. On every corner there was live music, there were shows everywhere — now there are just discos.”
He goes on to add that things are getting better, back to the way things were when live music was king — something he may well have played a part in. The group are being compared to Buena Vista Social Club, doing what they did for the Cuban sound to Rio samba. It’s a comparison that Wilson accepts though he argues it’s got more to do with age and grey-hair than impact.
He has been surrounded by music all his life, been a musician for 54 years and can think of nothing better than to die playing. He has, he reveals, “played with everyone I ever wanted to play with”; the list includes Chico Buarque, Orquestra Imperial and Tom Jobim. Yet, those fifty years hold no favourite memory, just “all of it”, and no favourite song or collaboration “all music is good music. I loved it all.” To say he is content seems ridiculous, though he does admit he still hopes to play in Greece. “I have played in Africa, in America, in parts of Europe but never Greece — maybe one day…”
Their April tour will be their debut together in the UK but not Wilson’s first. He has fond memories of playing in London, but then it seems all his memories are fond. While the world has embraced bossa nova it has been less accepting of his blend of Rio samba — something he hopes to change during his time in Europe.
As for collaborations with artists here, “if God wishes. I’m open to suggestions. Maybe I’ll hear something when I’m there or meet someone in Europe or in England, and who knows…”
There are no plans for another album just yet — we have just had four in six years following a 40 year hiatus — but they aren’t ruling it out. Their latest offering The Call of The Gods leaves you with the distinct feeling that life is good, very good, the same effect that talking to Wilson has incidentally.
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