Pianist, composer and arranger Guilherme Vergueiro nowadays is
better known for his work promoting lesser known Brazilian musicians and other artists. He
does that through his Internet site and his Brasil On Line Publishing company.
By Adriana Gama
Guilherme Vergueiro, the great Brazilian pianist, composer and arranger was born in
São Paulo and at the age of 4 was introduced to the instrument which made him one of the
best musicians presently. He has recorded some LPs and CDs. His latest CD, Amazon Moon
– The Music of Mike Stoller was just released in the US. Today, being an entrepeneur
as well, through Brazil On Line on the Internet, he presents to the international public,
and even to Brazilians, a Brazil that is unknown by many. I talked to him at his Los
Angeles home in October of 1998.
Brazzil: What is it like for you to be a musician?
Guilherme Vergueiro: For me to be a musician is simply to be.
Brazzil: Where does your inspiration come from when you write music?
Guilherme Vergueiro: From human emotions. From life itself and all its purest
aspects. Happiness, sadness, rebellion, pain, loneliness, uncertainties, anguish,
suffering, pleasure, compassion… Music doesn’t match up with feelings of hatred,
resentment, envy, and other feelings that human beings aren’t born with. I believe all
humans are born good. In my opinion, malice is the option of some.
Brazzil: How did you find yourself to be a pianist?
Guilherme Vergueiro: Still at a very young age, around the age of 4, I discovered a
piano at my house and started playing with it from time to time, and to this day I still
play with it…
Brazzil: What type/style of music do you usually listen to?
Guilherme Vergueiro: Good music… I think there are two types of music: good and
bad… As far as genres, I like them all.
Brazzil: What are the origins of your musicality?
Guilherme Vergueiro: My maternal grandfather was a great piano master, my dad also
played piano very well… Naturally their talent must have come from some place, so I
think that it has come from far down the line.
Brazzil: How is your style of music received outside of your country?
Guilherme Vergueiro: Better received than in my own country…
Brazzil: You have made collaborations/partnerships in recordings with both
Brazilian and American musicians. Who with? And what was it like?
Guilherme Vergueiro: I don’t record very frequently, even though I’ve participated
in some other artists’ recordings. I’ve recorded some LPs as a pianist and arranger with
my brother, Carlinhos Vergueiro, and with Agostinho dos Santos, Raul Mascarenhas, Cláudio
Guimarães, Nico Assumpção, Teco Cardoso, among others. During my career I’ve had the
opportunity of performing live and/or be part of groups where great artists participated
as well. In the beginning of my career, I participated for some years on the group of the
legendary Edison Machado and Leny de Andrade’s group.
I’ve had within my trios, exceptional artists such as Mads Vinding, Ron Carter,
Robertinho Silva, Ricardo do Canto, Walter Booker… I’ve also had the opportunity of
having the great Wayne Shorter as my guest in two different occasions, and when living in
New York and had a group called Love, Carnival and Dreams. Many times exceptional artists
that would be in the audience would come up and jam with the group, artists like Junior
Cook, Woody Shaw, Frederick Hubbard… the great international artists generally have a
great deal of appreciation/admiration for Brazilian music and artists.
Brazzil: How frequently do you record?
Guilherme Vergueiro: Not very frequently. At times I’ve spent years not recording.
But there’s a lot of things I’d like to record.
Brazzil: How many albums have you done and how many are available in the
Guilherme Vergueiro: I have three LPs, Naturalmente (Naturally), Só por
Amor (Only for Love) and Live in Copenhagen. And then three CDs, Love,
Carnival and Dreams, Molambo and Amazon Moon – The Music of Mike Stoller.
The last two are the only ones available in the U.S.. Molambo is on sale through
the Internet at http://brazilianmusic.com/vergueiro/molambo.html and Amazon Moon – The
Music of Mike Stoller is on sale at all record stores.
Brazzil: What kind of public would you say appreciate your work?
Guilherme Vergueiro: The more sensitive public I guess… I give myself in what I
do, and the public have to give themselves also when they are listening to me.
Brazzil: Is there a present recording project? And what music style are you
intending to present in the future?
Guilherme Vergueiro: I have various projects. All within the Brazilian roots. The
Brazilian music, in my opinion, is the richest. It contains the three elements that define
the word music (rhythm, harmony and melody) very strongly, the possibilities are
endless… I think one can’t explore all of what Brazilian music has to offer to the
musician, composer and arranger in one lifetime.
Brazzil: Have you made music for TV/Movies?
Guilherme Vergueiro: No, even though I’d love to some day. I participated as a
pianist and only musician in the soundtrack of a movie called A Guerra do Brasil
(Brazil’s War) by Sílvio Beck, about the atrocities of the Brazil/Paraguay war.
Brazzil: Have you accomplished any special or different project in your
Guilherme Vergueiro: Everything I made, in my heart, is special and they are all
Brazzil: But was there any that touched you especially?
Guilherme Vergueiro: Well, some projects which I have accomplished having as
special guests rhythmists of the Mangueira community have touched me deeply, by the fact
of having been able to demonstrate the existing affinity between the music and
arrangements that I write with samba roots, and by being able to live among the people who
really dominate the art of playing samba with the rhythmic instruments.
I have a very special love towards the Mangueira community, to which I was introduced
by Mestre Birinha, son of the great Mangueira composer, Padeirinho, and director of the
drum section of their samba school. It makes me very happy when I get a chance to work
with the kids of the Mangueira community as well, it gives a very special touch to my
concerts, and the kids are really, truly talented.
Brazzil: What are your thoughts on the Internet and globalization? Do you
have a web site?
Guilherme Vergueiro: I think the Internet has open an enormous space for world wide
people who are interested in knowing and exchanging information with artists who work in a
way which isn’t very well publicized in traditional manners. I think a sort of cultural
revolution was created. And the music has been benefited through this, as well as the
people who make it and/or appreciate it.
Many artists who hadn’t had the opportunity to reach out to a vast public, now have the
chance to have their work appreciated and by that are being encouraged to create more. And
the public who doesn’t identify with what is presented or forced by the music industry
and/or the media, have the opportunity to get to know and enjoy what is really the best of
art in the world, and certainly that aren’t promoted by the traditional media.
Besides having my own Internet page (http://www,brazilianmusic.com/vergueiro/),
I’ve had since ’95 a company, BrasilOnLine Publishing (http://www.brazilonline.com ), which is a virtual
magazine where a completely different Brazil is promoted.
I present on BrazilOnLine, an unknown Brazil. Great Brazilian artists in all areas,
that due to various reasons are (or were) ignored by the media. Common citizens’ opinions,
minority movements, aspects of the political and cultural life ignored by the major
magazines and newspapers… I try to offer information about the real Brazil, the Brazil
of the Brazilian people, the voice of the forgotten and unknown. I dream of a more
courageous Brazil, one with more personality for the new century.
Brazzil: Which place/country you haven’t played at but would like to?
Guilherme Vergueiro: I’d like to play in all places I have not, as well as to go
back to all places I have played but miss. I enjoy playing at distant places, where the
people don’t get many chances to appreciate instrumental music and/or far away cultures.
In those kind of places, people are generally more open to listen to a different kind of
music, and it’s a wonderful exchange of energy..
Brazzil: Who would you like to play with, that you haven’t?
Guilherme Vergueiro: I like to play with artists who are musically well prepared
and that see music as art, as an artistic form of expression of human feelings.
Brazzil: Talk a little about your latest release "Amazon Moon-the music
of Mike Stoller" which came out this year.
Guilherme Vergueiro: This CD is very special to me. It was a definite challenge.
Mike, is a songwriter who became very famous writing rock n roll tunes, such as
"Stand by Me", "Jail house Rock", "On Broadway" among
others; but has a special liking for Brazilian music. When he invited me to produce,
arrange and interpret 11 songs he had written inspired on Brazilian feelings,
I confess I was a little apprehensive, but when I heard the songs and started working on
them, I discovered that they truly were becoming Brazilian songs.
I had the opportunity to get some of my favorite musicians together, like the rythmist
Ubiratan "Bira Show" de Oliveira, who came straight from the Mangueira community
for this recording, the flautist/saxophonist Teco Cardoso who came from São Paulo, and
the guitar player Cláudio Celso, who came from Miami. I also got the bass player Octavio
Bailly, the cavaquinho (a Brazilian version of a ukelele) player Ary Piassarolo,
the young drummer Pablo Silva e Lima, who Im sure, in a bit, will be one of the
great names in Brazilian drumming, plus the percussionist Juno Homrisch, known for his
sensibility and his work for the movies.
Besides I had two American musicians, trumpetist Clay Jenkins, and trombonist Bill
Reinchenbach, both extraordinary, whom I had the opportunity to meet in L.A.. So we had
marvelous moments in the studio, which I miss, and think the music reflects such. I think
those who will have the opportunity to listen to the CD will like it very much.
Brazzil: What are your plans for the end of this year and for the year of
Guilherme Vergueiro: I’m planning to do some performances here in the U.S. as well
as in Europe, Japan and in Brazil. I have some plans to produce some CDs of upcoming new
artists that I admire and release those in my small label, Mangotree Music (http://www.brazilianmusic.com/mangotree/
). I also plan to record at least two personal CDs, another solo CD and another with my
Big Band as well as to continue developing the work that I do on Brazil On Line.