Essential Chico Cesar Playlist

By 30 September, 2022

With Chico Cesar partway through a European tour (dates in the UK, France, Germany and Spain are still to come) we wanted to shine a light on one of Brazilian music’s little-known gems with a selection of some of his finest tracks. Of course, if you’re Brazilian you can refute that last remark, for Chico Cesar has established himself over many years as one of the most unique voices in Brazilian popular music, an artist who is constantly reinventing himself while always staying true to his Paraíba [a state in north-eastern Brazil] roots. Elsewhere, it feels as if his reputation should be as grand as Milton Nascimento, Martinho da Vila or other artists of that stature. Perhaps this new tour will cement just that.

They love a live album in Brazil, so perhaps it was a canny move that Chico’s first album, Aos Vivos (recorded in 1994, released in 1995), was just that. The fact that Lenine and Lanny Gordin (an influential guitarist, known for his work with Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso in the late 60s and early 70s) accompanied him probably helped too, but surely the clinching factor is that it’s got great tunes, that he still plays to this day, “Mama África”, “Á Primeira Vista”… they still sound great. In the following almost 30 years he has released albums paying homage to forró and frevo, made a beautiful album with a chamber orchestra (De uns Tempos pra Cá) and managed to marry the north-east, Afro-Brazil, MPB and the avant-garde (let’s not forget his work with Arrigo Barnabé) seamlessly, which is no mean feat. His latest album is Vestido de Amor, on which he works with African artists such as Salif Keita and Ray Lema, and mines an effortless Afro-Brazilian pop sound.

Chico Cesar will be playing at London’s Islington Assembly Hall on 8th October

Here’s a selection of some of our favourite Chico songs from the past 30 years:

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