Gilberto Gil, South Africa's "Voice" premiere Viramundo

Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:05pm EDT
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By Stephanie Nebehay

MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Brazil's Gilberto Gil showcased joyful African-inspired music despite being tinged with themes of poverty, slavery and painful reconciliation at the Montreux Jazz Festival on Tuesday night.

Teaming up with South African folk star Vusi Mahlasela also on guitar, Gil's "Viramundo" concert offered a sneak preview of an upcoming documentary on his road trip rich in cross-cultural collaboration.

South African Paul Hanmer was on piano, along with Brazilians Gustavo Di Dalva on drums and guitarist Sergio Chiavazzoli, for the nearly two-hour set in Miles Davis Hall, which was backed by a Swiss orchestra, the Lausanne Sinfonietta.

"We are Africans in Brazil, especially when it comes to music. We are very African already in Brazil," Gil told Reuters in an interview in the chalet of festival founder Claude Nobs hours before the show.

"What we sing about, our subjects, we have lots of things in common like the apartheid situation, hunger, poverty, submission, humiliation and exploitation - all of that. The black slaves in Brazil went through the same thing that tribes had to go through when they worked in the gold mines in South Africa."

"Ba Kae", "Lamento Sertanejo" and "Raca Humana" were among the tracks performed by the duo, who opened for American chanteuse Melody Gardot.

Gil arrived a few days early in Switzerland for his 10th appearance at one of Europe's most prestigious music festivals.

Last weekend in a Swiss studio, he recorded 10 songs for the soundtrack of "Viramundo - a Journey with Gilberto Gil," which follows him on a musical tour of the southern hemisphere, via Brazil, South Africa and Australia, while examining racial issues.   Continued...

Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil performs during the 46th Montreux Jazz Festival July 10, 2012. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud