The Roxy Welcomes Vinicius Cantuaria To The Stage

As a singer, guitarist, composer, drummer and percussionist, Vinicius Cantuaria is well known to the jazz and Bossa Nova world. The artist splits his time between Rio de Janeiro and New York City, soaking in the myriad of influences in each locale, and letting it seep into his music. We chatted with Cantuaria before his three-night stint at The Django starting May 26th.

After your success in Rio’s Bossa Nova scene, you decided to make the leap to New York in the mid-90s. What inspired this bold move?

I moved to New York to develop my music and I was also inspired by my contrarian side – a certain need to challenge myself and choose untaken paths. The great Tom Jobim also influenced me – I told him I was thinking of moving to New York, and he encouraged me to make the big jump!

That said, you’ve lived in the ever-changing New York for many years.  How do you feel the New York jazz scene has changed since the mid-90s?

New York is a city where the traditional and the new live in harmony, and that’s how the city grows and survives because one depends on the other. There’s no change without tradition, and this is certainly the city of changes in music and the arts in general.

Your work reflects your balance between traveling to Rio de Janeiro and New York. What gives you most inspiration from each city when writing or playing music?

In each city I collaborate with great musicians and that inspires me. In my music I try to mix the sounds of these two cities. For me, they’re the most musical places on the planet.

Why should jazz fans unfamiliar with the realm of Bossa Nova give it a chance?

Bossa Nova has a close relationship with jazz, which I think helps an American audience identify with the music.

Are there other jazz and Bossa Nova musicians you currently admire?

I admire a lot of musicians – both Brazilian and American – among them the pianists Helio Alves, Vitor Gonçalves, the guitarists Romero Lubambo, Chico Pinheiro – and then of course Ryuichi Sakamoto, Brad Mehldau and John Zorn.

What can we expect for your next album?

I’m always taking my music in an opposite direction from my last album, and I spend every day in my studio playing my guitars. When the emotion speaks to me, I start thinking about the next project. In this case, my next album will be dedicated to the rivers of the Amazon, where I was born. It’s called “The Sound of the Rivers.”

Catch Vinicius at The Roxy Hotel, where he’ll be performing in The Django this Thursday May 28th , Friday May 29th , and Saturday May 30th.

Reserve your table at www.thedjangonyc.comm/reservations or call 212.519.6649

Words by Lori Zimmer.