I've been listening to Jair Rodrigues a lot lately, and hearing him has become nearly an obsession. His combination of joy, sadness, loss, fatalism and a kind of indolence isn't to be found in too many other artists. Rodrigues, with his rough-hewn voice, wears his heart very much on his sleeve. Everything is outsized; he yells and soars over the arrangements. But he's no unsophisticated belter. The tunes, culled from the ranks of the best Brazilian composers (Jorge Ben, Djavan, Vinicius de Moraes and many others), are often complex and require great technical and emotional sureness to be performed convincingly. Tunes like "Zelao" and "Arrastao" demand subtlety and vocal flexibility.
Jair Rodrigues has the ability to sing at the exact outer reaches of his range. It often sounds as if he's going to fall just short of a note, but he never does. This tension provides his music with a potent jolt, moving it between ache and celebration. Rodrigues is also funny and irreverent. He does a zany duet semi-rap on "Vinheta-Ziguezague" that makes me wish I understood what the guys were talking about. Whatever it means, they're having a lot of fun singing it. You'll have fun listening to it too, but Interprete will take you through a gamut of emotional responses.