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Jamming With Bruno Santos in Sao Paulo

November 27, 2011

Bruno Santos

Bruno Santos

One of the most rewarding aspects of my musical adventures around the world is the building up of a musical web of friends and fellow musicians – particularly the latter – especially those of the peripatetic kind like me. That is to say, meeting a musician at an open mic in Paris who I subsequently run into in Singapore or Tokyo or Shanghai or, as with this weekend, in Sao Paulo.

I’ve recounted on this blog such meetings as all of those mentioned above – most recently One Bourbon One Beer at the open mic in Tokyo – and a new twist was added to that sort of tale this weekend when I met up with Bruno Santos over the last couple of nights here in Sao Paulo. As we spent time together talking about our various projects and jamming (and I also interviewed Bruno for my open mic film) we learned that we had more connections than we thought, aside from those in Paris where we met at Earle’s open mic at the Lizard Lounge in 2008.

Bruno is a Brazilian now based in Sao Paulo, and with two Brazilian parents. But he grew up around the world, and has lived on every continent except Antarctica and in such notable places as Australia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, England and Los Angeles – where he studied music – and a stint travelling around Europe playing music in open mics, which was when we met. As we spoke, we discovered we had both played in some of the same places in Singapore as well, notably the Crazy Elephant, where we had met some of the same people, like its jam organizer, John Chee.

As it turns out, Bruno, who is 25, has just begun to break out in a big way musically and in the media in Brazil. We had communicated periodically over Facebook since we met three years ago, but this was the first time we met again, and I happened to step back into his world at a very exciting moment: All of the major Brazilian newspapers, popular magazines and trade magazines – such as Billboard in Brazil – are writing big feature stories about Bruno and his self-produced album. He has also made appearances on national television.

Why all the attention? Well, it’s a very interesting story, and the music is damned good too. Basically, Bruno decided to return to live in Sao Paulo – and study at a prestigious business shool, by the way – to rebuild his roots in the native country in which he spent so little time of his life. But he also had this project going for a while for the solo album, entitled, “Time To Tell,” which he recorded in Rio, and partly in London and Sao Paulo.

The album is recorded entirely in English, as Bruno’s English is impeccable, since he grew around the world with his diplomat father and violinist mother, attending international schools. But the real catch, the real story behind the album, which has been exciting the media, is that Bruno did absolutely everything all by himself: He recorded the album with his own recording equipment, he wrote the lyrics and music to the 12 songs, and above all he plays all the instruments – beautifully – from the acoustic and electric guitars to the electric and fretless bass guitars, the drums, whistles, harmonica and other percussion, and even the back-up vocals to his fresh and melodious lead vocals.

But the personal side does not stop there: He had the CDs manufactured so professionally that there is virtually no difference in aspect to a CD from any of the majors. Of course, he credits an art director and designer and a photographer too, and although he did the engineering – he studied sounding engineering in London – and the digital editing and the mixing, he also credits someone helping him with that as well. Bruno found distributors for the physical product of the CD, and it is available around the world, and of course, in the top shops in Brazil.

His apartment near the famous Paulista avenue is rich in instruments, microphones, two drum sets, and a very clever studio in the room that is supposed to be the bedroom – you can see where his priorities lie.

So after a meal with Bruno and his friend Pati – pronounced Patchy in Portuguese – the first night, last night after my day at the racetrack, we got down to doing a little jamming together, both with cover songs and our own compositions. And Bruno gave me a lesson on using looping machines, which made me start to itch for that gadget for the first time.

All in all, it was a fantastic and unique sort of experience for me in Sao Paulo, as I had heretofore been condemned only to walking the streets looking for a jam – and now here I was with a bona fide Brazilian musician at his home, jamming. Well, let me take that back for a minute, Bruno is above all a bona fide international musician with Brazilian roots. And that is exactly what you take away from the music, some South American rhythms and feel to it, some jazz sound, some classic singer-songwriter feel and sound, interesting lyrics and great guitar and sense of time. Oh, and his voice is great on the falsettos too.

You can hear some of his music on his web site and also on Bruno’s SoundCloud space.

Anyway we might join up for a jam tonight in Pinheiros at the Sunday night jam I intend to go to, with other bona fide Brazilian musicians…. Let you know tomorrow or the next day when I return to Paris.

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