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Arthur Verocai

Arthur Verocai

Arthur Verocai was born in Rio de Janeiro on 17 June 1945. He is a guitar player, composer and orchestra conductor. Arthur Verocai began his professional music career in 1969 as music director and guitar player for the show ‘É a maior.’ That same year he wrote orchestra arrangements which were presented in the music festivals of Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo for the first time. Over the next few years he was responsible for the orchestration of albums by Ivan Lins, Jorge Ben, Elizeth Cardoso, Gal Costa, Quarteto em Cy, MPB 4 and Marcos Valle, among others.

In the 1970s he was hired by Brazil’s biggest TV station, TV Globo, as musical director where he wrote the arrangements for many of the stations biggest shows.

His work for publicity campaigns includes advertisements of Brahma, Fanta, Petrobrás, Sul América, Souza Cruz e Shell, among others. His works in these fields have been awarded with prizes (Prêmios Colunistas em Publicidade), for the campaigns: Sorvete Sem Nome (launching campaign), Petrobras ("Ararajuba Real", jingle for the soccer World Cup of 1994) and Governo do Estado do RJ ("Mais Vida na Vida do Povo do Rio).

Following his success Arthur had with the production of Ivan Lins 1971 album "Agora"; Arthur recorded his self-titled debut album on Continental Records. A forbidding Brazilian military dictatorship frowned on artistic impression that repressed the youth of the country. He challenged the musical conventions of the day, combining Brazilian influences with folksy soul and lo-fi electronic experimentations of American artists like Shuggie Otis or the orchestration of producer Charles Stepney. His subtle protest experimented with new musical directions, and used figurative language to sneak under the censorship radar.

"I used to listen to Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Stan Kenton, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Web, Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans and Miles Davis, Milton Nascimento, Bossa Nova, among other things," explains Arthur Verocai. "In Brazil we had many musical influences, and by that time there wasn't a hegemonic one in the market. In this way my album reflected a search and musical experimentation. I was in an adventurous mood on this album and that led me to explore new melodic, harmonic and rhythmic paths”.

Today this album is a cult and has been sampled by many US producers, singers and artists and was one of the many factors why Far Out Recordings wanted to work with Arthur on new projects and on arrangements for other artists on the label.

He had contributed string arrangements to Jorge Ben releases too. "I also produced two albums by a singer named Célia for Continental and the president of the company was delighted with the results. He invited me to produce an album using my own compositions and I agreed as long as I was able to choose the musicians to perform with me. All the strings sessions featured 12 violins, 4 violas and 4 cellos, always with one or two percussionists. The idea of mixing strings with contemporary sounds came from my desire of searching for new paths. I think this album was very rich in terms of both quantity and quality of musicians!" Verocai wasn't messing around with his line-up of musicians, which included Brazilian legends like Robertinho Silva, Pascoal Meireles, Luiz Alves, Paulo Moura, Edson Maciel, Oberdan Magalhães (Banda Black Rio), Nivaldo Ornelas (Milton Nascimento band) and Toninho Horta.

In the late 80s Far Out Recordings founder Joe Davis stumbled across Arthur’s debut in a dusty record store in downtown Rio. At the time of its release in 1972 critics panned Arthur’s debut and both the album and artist subsequently vanished into obscurity.

Fast forward to winter 2004 and Joe’s at the studio of Far Out Recording artists Harmonic 33 – aka production duo Mark ‘Troubleman’ Pritchard and Dave Brinkworth – playing them some of his favorite Brazilian albums. Dave recalls the moment Joe put on Arthur’s debut, “As soon as the needle hit the record and we heard the fantastic arrangements, songs and sounds, Arthur completely blew their minds”.

Three months later and Dave was in Brazil with Arthur Verocai, and the plans for what was to become ‘Encore’ were being laid down. Produced by David and Joe, ‘Encore’ sees Arthur on incredible form, the 35 plus years between the recording of his debut and this the follow-up just melting away as Arthur picks up the (conductor’s) baton once again to create 11 epic tracks of stirring samba-soul and experimental cinematic movements that sees him creating a record to rival his debut.