Brazilian musician Arthur Verocai on his late-blossoming career: ‘I wanted to run away from myself’

Raved about by jazzers, hip-hop artists and high fashion houses alike, the septuagenarian maestro’s resurgence is a long way from his all-but-ignored 1972 debut, copies of which now sell for thousands of dollars

It’s a rainy summer afternoon in Rio de Janeiro and Arthur Verocai is experiencing technical difficulties. The 76-year-old Brazilian maestro is on the phone with his production staff. By the end of the day, he has to print, sign and send a document to Louis Vuitton, which hired him to score its latest show. Only then will he get paid. The courier is already en route. But the printer is not working. And Verocai, tense, can’t find a pen. “I hate these bureaucracies,” he says, as he paces his spacious apartment in the city’s south zone.

When the printer finally complies and the document is handed off, Verocai scratches his grey moustache, flops his tall, skinny body on the living room sofa, picks up his guitar and tells the photographer: “I swear I don’t understand why you want to take my picture. I am not that important.” A picture on the wall of his living room tells a different story. It’s a poster from a Verocai concert in Los Angeles, in March 2009, backed by a 30-piece orchestra, with guests such as drummer Ivan “Mamao” Conti, the late keyboardist José Bertrami (both from the samba jazz fusion group Azymuth) and the percussionist Airto Moreira, and supporting DJ set by Madlib. “That was one of the best shows LA has ever seen,” the producer Cut Chemist told NPR.

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