Born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Fernando Sodré is part of renewal movement in country viola. Last year, the artist released his third album, Viola de Ponta Cabeça [Upside-down Viola], in which he shows modern elaborated harmonies, executed with technique and precision. The result is contemporary jazz filled with influences, which he will be presenting at Inhotim this coming Saturday, June 7, at 3 p.m.With musicians Írio Júnior (piano), Esdras Neném (drums) and Enéias Xavier (bass), the viola player will also have Toninho Horta and harmonic player Gabriel Grossi as guests. Inhotims Blog has talked to Fernando about the concert and about his relationship with music. Check it out!
Inhotims blog You have roots in choro music, but there are also jazz elements to your music.How do you describe what you do?
Fernando Sodré I can say that what I play is Brazilian instrumental music. My arrangements are influenced by typical Brazilian rhythms and melodies such as choro, northeastern music and traditional music from Minas. I think it’s a mix of all that.I started out playing chorinho and only then jazz, with musician Alvimar Liberato. He introduced me to jazz and, from then on, I started studying it. In the beginning, the language was difficult for me, but I soon fell in love with it and added its elements to my music.
IB – In your last album, as well as at Inhotim, you play with important musicians in the Minas Gerais scene. How did it feel to add these names to your work?
FS Enéias was the greatest responsible for this experience. I had known him for a while and we used to work together every now and then. Once, I was going to perform in Panama and drummer Márcio Bahia, who was going to play in the concert, could not travel with the band. Then, Enéias told me about Esdra (Neném). He played with us and it was a very nice experience. A few people know about this, but before thinking about Viola de Ponta Cabeça I intended to release a solo album. After this trip and other experiences, I changed my mind and decided to invite both of them to form a trio. We added other interesting elements to the recording, such as Irios piano and Gabriel Grossis harmonica. The result was a very free album, in which each one of us had a lot of autonomy to create within the arrangements proposed.Considering that we did it live, the gathering of influences and sounds was beyond my expectations. When I first listened to the tracks I noticed how well things fitted together.
IB Singer and songwriter Toninho Horta is also in the album and takes part in the performance at Inhotim. Tell us about this experience.
FS Ive been a big fan of Toninho Horta for a long time.I have always listened to his music and he was one of my references. Throughout my career, Ive always wanted to develop some sort of work with him. Through a common friend, I invited him when we were doing Viola de Ponta Cabeça. We sent the material, Toninho listened to it, liked it and agreed to be in the album. As soon as the recording started, he was very willing and engaged with the project. The result was this version of Party in Olinda, a track directed by him and that came up quite interesting.
IB About the concert on Saturday, what does it mean for you to perform at a place like Inhotim?
FS It is truly a fantastic opportunity to be able to play at a place that is respected and acknowledged both in Brazil and abroad such as Inhotim. I think my music dialogs very well with the place and the people there, so, my expectations are huge. I´m hoping it will be a great show. After all, the places atmosphere positively influences each track well be playing. We will show a very diversified repertoire, with songs from the last album and from other ones, older ones. In addition to our base formation, Toninho Horta, Gabriel Grossi will also participate.
IB The performance is part of the program for the 10th Environment Week, which is taking place at Inhotim. How do you relate to the environmental issue?
FS Its funny you mentioned this, because a lot of my music is created in places far from city centers. Rivers, farms, mountains, that is, places that havent undergone major alterations by men. Therefore, nature is a source of inspiration for me. Without it, its likely I would find difficulties with my creative process. Weeks such as this one are very important to raise everyones awareness about environmental issues.