I first met Felipe Fuentes at a rehearsal for a performance at the National Museum for Visual Arts in Montevideo. Cool appeal, social awareness: the young (25), virtuoso bass/double bass “+ some other instruments” (as his social network profile advices) player and composer is one of those talents hard to tag, but easy to enjoy.
(GF) You and music: how did it start?
(FF) I could say that I had contact with music one day before I was born, when Jaime Roos, a well-known Uruguayan author visited my house. As a child, I had the habit of sitting on an armchair, next to a window facing the street and by the sound of the motors I could say the car brand. My parents have both played instruments at some point in their lives, besides being both music lovers and very curious, so I've always been in contact with many music genres. My father is a graphic designer and a photographer, so I also met many musicians through him, for he would be either photographing them or working on their album covers. But even with this favourable environment, the education system in Uruguay for music is quite disastrous, and does not have a conservatory focused on current music, which is why I have learned more in private lessons and with the experience of playing, than in any other way. That means that I had to overcome several obstacles that perhaps a good formal education would have facilitated.
(GF) What about your references and influences?
(FF) I have several and very varied ones. I could summarize it by saying that, like a sponge, I absorb something from everything, even things that I do not like at first. I do recognize a strong influence of Afro music in my work, not only in its Uruguayan variant, the candombe, but also as it is represented in other countries and cultures, such as in the United States, Brazil, Cuba, Morocco, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa. I also like Flamenco and the music from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and Japan. Today I'm listening a lot to Flying Lotus revisiting Frank Zappa, and saxophonist Tony Malaby.
(GF) You started your career very young. Any highlights?
Since you've come so far ...
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(FF) The first time I performed live on a large stage. I was 13 years old and it was in the Sala Zitarrosa [a prestigious venue in Montevideo], as the guest of a band called Pecho e 'Fierro. I also consider a milestone my participation in the last festival hosted at the Summer Theater, an important local event.
(GF) Future projects?
(FF) Next July, I will release "Sankofa" with rapper AVR (Alvaro Silva), an album that took us 3 years to prepare. Alvaro's great-grandfather, Juan Julio Arrascaeta was actually one of the first afro poets to be published in the region. The album is a mix of candombe rhythms, hip hop drums, socially conscious lyrics and black poetry.
Written by Geisa Fernandes - Brasil / Rio de Janeiro
The repertoire of this jazz singer and awarded songwriter from Rio de Janeiro reveals influences of Brazilian popular music, the French chanson and Latin American rhythms, but most of all, Geisa Fernandes is a jazz singer. Billie Holiday aficionada (back in college folks used to call her "Lady Doc"), this PhD holder and Comics researcher was a former vocalist of several bands in São Paulo.
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