Moreno Veloso still spends much of his time in a laboratory, as befits a longtime physics student, but his heart has always been in music. The release of Music Typewriter by the 27-year-old son of celebrated Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso proves Moreno to be both an individual as well as a chip off the old block with.
"It's taken him a while to put this project together," observed Andrés Levin, who produced Music Typewriter. "Moreno has his own musical vision that has nothing to do with his father's."
Veloso the younger carries on his father's legacy nonetheless. At the age of three, Moreno said, "my father taught me how to sing some songs." At age nine he began to study classical guitar and write lyrics. But his musical prowess isn't limited to the frets. While still a teenager he toured as a percussionist with his father and Gilberto Gil prior to landing a gig playing cello with Bahian singer Carlinhos Brown.
Moreno became even more involved in music 10 years ago when, along with two friends, he built a home studio and began scoring music for films and television. But he began writing his own songs only three years ago.
"Carlos Barmak asked me to play at the Museum of Modern Art in Säo Paolo," Veloso recalled. "I didn't have a band or any idea what to do." Veloso enlisted two friends, bassist Alexandre Kassin and keyboard player Domenico Lancelloti, who together comprise the group Moreno+2. The trio rehearsed and the concert "went really well." The trio recorded Music Typewriter in the aforementioned home studio in order to "do exactly what we wanted."
The result reflects the samba and bossa nova melodic traditions. Veloso covers such classics as Djavan's "Esfinge" (Sphinx) (RealAudio excerpt), but adds a distinctly modern electronic edge to originals such as "Para Xó" (For Xó). It was a natural mix, Veloso claimed, since "we're in the middle and could mix a lot of samba and traditional Brazilian music with our experimental music."
While eight of the record's 14 songs come from Veloso's pen, the disc was never intended to focus on his material. Veloso said he wanted to focus on "songs, music in its pure form. We just recorded what we think is good."
Among their choices is a version of "I'm Wishing" (RealAudio excerpt), which appeared originally in the 1937 Walt Disney movie "Snow White." While watching a video of the movie one night with Daniel Jobim, grandson of songwriter Carlos Jobim, Veloso was touched by the simplicity and beauty of a song that "only has three notes until the end, when there's a fourth. We kept rewinding the tape and singing it." Veloso asked Jobim to accompany him on the album version, "and I love his singing and playing on it."
Veloso's music brings contemporary influences to bear on the Brazilian popular music style known as MPB. He has no desire to ape his father, who was a major figure in the Tropicaliá movement that revolutionized Brazilian music in the 1960s by adding rock.
"I'm not representing Tropicaliá 2000," Veloso insisted. "I just try to do a good job playing my own music. I just do what I think is good and right."
However strong his own work, comparisons with his father will be inevitable. Veloso, though, insisted he doesn't "feel uncomfortable about that."
"They have a wonderful relationship," said Levin. "Right now Moreno is working on Caetano's new record, and in Brazil everyone knows him as Caetano's son." Ultimately though, Levin noted, the music matters more than the genes. "Moreno is very different from his father," he concluded. "What he does is his own thing."
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