Yo- Yo Ma's peripatetic musical journey takes him tio Brazil


Published: Friday, August 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 1, 2003 at 2:34 a.m.
He has rocked with Bach, fiddled with Appalachia, crouched with tigers, tangoed in Argentina and traded on the Silk Road. Now, Yo-Yo is going Rio.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who will bring the Silk Road music to Gainesville in January, celebrates Brazil in his new album, "Obrigado, Brazil," released next week. It brings together some of Brazil's leading musicians in a carnival of sambas and bossa novas, contemplative classics and heartfelt choros.
Who better to bring Brazil north than a Paris-born Chinese-American ambassador of communication who has an anthropology degree from Harvard and a knack for breaking down cultural barriers?
Musicians on "Obrigado, Brazil" (obrigado means "thank you") include guitarist brothers Sergio and Odair Assad, guitarist-composer Oscar Castro-Neves, pianist Kathryn Stott, clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera, vocalist Rosa Passos, percussionist Cyro Baptista, pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano and guitarist Romero Lubambo.
Their expertise helped him unlock the mysteries of the sounds of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Camargo Mozart Guarnieri, Villa-Lobos, Pixinguinha and Gismonti, among others.
"It's sort of like getting through a membrane," Ma said. "Basically you have to find a way in, and I think part of the way in is to, at some point, get the feel. So there's a tactile thing that you have to get."
Ma has brought the music of Bach, Appalachia, China, Central Asia and Argentina to millions in more than 50 albums. His next project takes him back to the traditional repertoire: baroque Italy and an album of Vivaldi cello concertos.
But the latest disc was inspired, in part, by the music of the prolific Brazilian composer and fellow cellist Heitor Villa-Lobos and, more recently, by his delight in making the Grammy-winning album "Soul of the Tango," featuring the music of Argentina's Astor Piazzolla.

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