Bruno Berle at the Jazz Café06 September, 2023
On 15th August, the Jazz Café in Camden welcomed yet another splendid Brazilian artist to its stage; this time Bruno Berle, a singer-songwriter from the North-east of the country. In recent years, the venue has become an important space for Latin American music in the UK, particularly for Brazilian music. It offers an eclectic programme, staging Brazilian household names such as Marcos Valle, celebrating the music of Bossa Nova icons such as Jorge Ben Jor, while also welcoming contemporary and emerging acts throughout the year – such as rapper Emicida, who played here last autumn, and Anavitória, due to perform later this month.
An important part of the venue’s Brazilian music calendar is providing a literal and figurative stage for emerging acts wishing to grow their presence outside of Brazil. Following the likes of Luedji Luna (in August last year), Bruno Berle’s appearance was the musician from the state of Alagoas’ first ever gig in a foreign country.
Berle’s performance was assured and accomplished. The artist, who is signed to Far Out Recordings, was alone on stage: no band, just him, his voice, and his guitar. While his music has a clear Bossa Nova influence, he doesn’t subscribe entirely to the genre, but rather remodels and repurposes the beats and chord progressions to suit the incredible range of his beautifully melodic voice. His performance was intimate and authentic; you could sense the love he has for his music and for the welcoming crowd. His vocal intonation, the thoughtfulness of his lyrics and his clear musical ability had a genuine emotional impact on me – particularly in songs from his most recent album, No Reino dos Afetos, released last year, such as “Até Meu Violão”, “Quero Dizer” and “O Nome Do Meu Amor”.
His lyrics often deal with the intricacies and sensitivities of interpersonal relationships, love and the negotiation of feelings and sensations. Examples include: “Onde você estiver, eu vou, um dia de chuva e sol cantar, o nome do meu amor” [“Wherever you are, I’ll go, on a rainy or a sunny day and I’ll sing my love’s name”] from “O Nome Do Meu Amor”, and “O beijo que esqueci de dar” [“The kiss I forgot to give”] from “Quero Dizer”.
To see and listen to this artist was like being invited into his living room. He played organically, authentically, doing his thing, as I imagine he has done countless times in Brazil, but just in a new place in front of a new audience. The very simplicity of the performance served to highlight his musical talent and his passion. It was not what I expected before the gig, as his album is produced with percussion and sound effects (by Batata Boy, who was also in the audience), but it was a nice surprise. Both at the beginning and end of his set, Berle seemed genuinely astounded by the amount of people who had not only turned up to enjoy his songs, but also knew the lyrics. His musical ability and authenticity on stage made for a wonderful evening of music. I sincerely hope that Berle returns to the UK for another memorable performance. If he does, I’ll make sure to buy a ticket.
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