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Once maligned Brazilian hero Verocai conquers the Holland Festival.

This is what charisma looks like. Arthur Verocai, now 79, tall and lean, stylish jacket around bony shoulders, only has to look into the hall once to overwhelm the audience. In the Concertgebouw's main hall on Tuesday night, the Brazilian legend stood in front of the Metropole Orchestra to belt out work from his scarce albums. He barely had to move, barely had to raise his hands to make the large-sized orchestra sound like the world's tastiest big band.

Verocai is the man who was destined for great things but did not have his time with them. Had people in the 1970s heard what they hear now, he would have been much more productive. Who knows to what he would have risen further. While he is already top now. 

Cool Jazz

So this is what the seventies sounded like. The music that Verocai put on a then ignored album in 1972 is a highly successful marriage between Jobim's Bossa Nova, famously played by Astrud Gilberto, and Miles Davis' cool jazz, with a touch of Zappa. So this sounds sultry and relaxed to the max, but with a swing and raging riffs from the strings that got the very mixed Holland Festival audience moving almost immediately.

So it got cosy. Verocai, decided to stop writing after his ignored debut. Until he was rediscovered early this century and immediately became a hero of the Brazilian music scene. In Amsterdam, he had brought along two friends. Singer Paula Santoro and singer-guitarist Rogê modestly flattered themselves in the back, next to the Fender Rhodes played by Verocai's son Ricardo. 

Glowing cellists

The connectedness of the Brazilian stars transformed the Concertgebouw stage into a cosy living room where, around the dinner table, zw sang their poems. In the line of sight between them, I saw glowing cellists happily joining the party. Verocai, no longer in the best of voices, found support from his friends and that warmth radiated out to the audience.

Everyone was wearing big smiles, not least the musicians of the Metropole. They felt like it, and actually thought it was a bit too short after those 15 minutes and only one encore. In fact, everyone thought so. But it also humbled them. So little material, so good: what more could we have especially wished for him.  

Experienced: Arthur Verocai at the Concertgebouw, during the Holland Festival on 25 June.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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