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Tropicalia's underdog is back: live, louder and more impressive than ever

Tom Zé is here to complicate
Tom Zé is here to complicate
Jefferson Barcellos(

As brazilian music gets more mysterious by the hour, so does Tropicalia's ugly duck Tom Zé. Born in Bahia in 1936, Tom was part of the gang that would later conquer the world and become reference in Brazil. Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Maria Bethânia e Gal Costa performed alongside with him in the mid sixties. Though the media made the first four heros of brazil's musical revolution, Tom Zé is by far the most interesting character of that story. In 1968, away from hometown Irará, he won first and fourth place at the IV Festival de Música Popular Brasileira (IV Popular Brazilian Music Festival) and left his mark on the record which settled Tropicalismo for good, Tropicália ou Panis Et Circensis.

From then on, Bahia's fab four were stuck to a rocket. Tom, per say, not so much. At least, not in his very own Brazil. He was considered way too ahead of his time, a quality not appreciated around there forty years ago. He never feared, however, since Europe and North America developed true love for the innovative human being bringing exotic content from his "jungle" land. Those markets weren't a home away from home, yet he could bring his real home the bacon.

Let aside financial needs, his journey abroad turned him into a myth and granted him respect and fans worldwide. Recognition of his geniality might take a little bit more time for he is one unpredictable fella. When things were quiet some years ago, chicago-formed post-rock band Tortoise gathered with Tom Zé and gave birth to a very underestimate album. Whenever the river is calm, he "studies" music styles long regarded as impossible to be creative in and come up with material that (can't be) is not to be understood, as usual. It is to be felt.

Two years prior to Hollywood's end of the world, Tom is now bringing the houses down with a live act caught both in cd and dvd named Pirulito da Ciência (Science Lollipop), out by Biscoito Fino. It is actually more than that, it is entertaiment meeting artistic freedom. He may show up here in a quite near future and mess people's head up with the translation of his amazing mind. As he himself once said "I'm not here to explain, I'm here to complicate."
Well done, then.



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