Naná Vasconcelos


Altercat • 1973

He could play the fast rhythms and the slow ones as well as everything in between: Naná Vasconcelos, the Brazilian devil violinist, did not play the violin and was not a devil, but a true virtuoso on the berimbau. »Africadeus« is his second album, released in 1973, and is said to have revealed »his instrument« to the world. That is a pretty big statement, of course. Some people will never have heard one of these Brazilian Jew’s harps, let alone seen one, even half a century later. But that can be changed.  

The album version re-released on Altercat represents the perfect opportunity to do so. Vasconcelos chops, plucks and strokes it like a man who is possessed. Long regarded as a collaborator of bossa bosses like Milton Nascimento, and later recruiting his own collaborators for releases on ECM, he squeezes everything out of the box that needs squeezing out. Not only is it a feast for purists, but it’s a great and spectacular one at that. And for anyone who says I can do that too, it’s just an instrument, should check out the live version as an appetiser to the LP. This was recorded ten years after the release of the album »Africadeus«. But that doesn’t really matter. And if someone else says, well, that’s nothing for me, at least they’ll know what a berimbau is.