Gilberto Gil ‘Banda Dois’ (Geléia/Warners) 4/5

Singer-songwriter and, up until recent times Brazilian Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil has made a virtue out of live recordings and for this latest effort has largely returned to the pared down surroundings of his earliest recordings from the mid-late 1960s, accompanied by son Bem Gil on guitar, and the percussive instruments of pandeiro and tamborim with very occasional vocalists Maria Rita and José Gil guesting on a couple of numbers. While his most popular period commercially dates from the late 1970s and early 1980s with songs such as ‘Palco’ and ‘Todo Menina Baiana’, this near seventy minute effort from a live performance in Sao Paolo in September last year focuses more on the early to mid-1970s period when he was making his name nationally, but had yet to really break the international market. Consequently, this CD captures the very essence of Gil and the acoustic format suits him well. Old favourites includes ‘Expresso 2222’ and his interpretation of Jackson do Pandeiro’s ‘Chiclete com banana’ while the title tracks of two of his most consistent albums, ‘Refazenda’ and ‘Refavela’, are revisited to good effect and were ones that cemented his reputation at the time. Among the (relatively) newer material, ‘Escotérico’ is a laid back number with a whistled intro and a lovely way to open the evening’s proceedings and ‘Lamento sertanejo’ is a part vocal, part scatted piece with only Gil himself accompanying on guitar to depict in musical terms the rugged landscape and daily life in the semi-arid Sertao region of north-eastern Brazil. English and Portugese lyrics combine on ‘O rouxinol’ (’Nightingale’) and Gil makes a decent stab at the only other standard ‘Saudade da Bahia’, written by the quintessential Bahian songwriter Dorival Caymmi. A separate DVD of the concert is available.

Tim Stenhouse