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Gil Pursues Lives In Music, Politics

Of the Oakland Press

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Gilberto Gil calls his latest album, “Banda Larga Cordel,” “a regular Gilberto Gil album” — even though there’s no such thing.

In the five decades since the Brazilian icon and his colleague Caetano Veloso pioneered the broad-reaching Tropicalism movement — and was imprisoned in and exiled from his homeland as a result — Gil has continued to experiment and blend musical styles from around the world. But unlike 2006’s thematic “Gil Luminoso,” the new outing has different, more song-oriented ambitions.

“‘Gil Luminoso’ is about myself as a musical individual, a musical entity,” Gil, 65, explains. “This time I’m using different rhythms. Some songs are a little bit reggae. Some songs are blues. I have some sambas, a song that resembles African music.

“It’s very broad in the sense of styles and sources of reference — the kind of music that they usually name World Music. That’s been my bag for awhile.”

Gil is, of course, playing several “Banda Larga Cordel” songs on his current tour, but those opportunities to see him perform have become rare because of his “day job.” In politics since 1987, he’s in his second term as Brazil’s Minister of Culture, overseeing a wide variety of programs — and, he says, getting people used to the idea of an artist in office.

“I think they love the idea of having ... a specialist in the office,” Gil notes. “It has to do with the re-democratizing process we’ve been through in Brazil after a 20-year period of dictatorship. The last 12, 15 years we’ve been back into democracy, and people like me are sort of being used for this new process.

“So it’s very natural, like a new generation, and I’m happy to do what I can to be of service to it.”

Gilberto Gil and Broad Band perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday (June 18) as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival at the Power Center, 121 Fletcher St. Tickets are $35-$48. Call (734) 764-2538 or visit www.annarborsummerfestival.org.

Web Site: www.annarborsummerfestival.org

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