Music » Music Stories & Interviews

A guy named Seu

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Seu Jorge and Almaz
8 p.m. Saturday, July 24
Firestone Live, 407-872-0066
www.firestonelive.net
$20

A guy comes through town, plays guitar and then leaves. It happens. But there's something different about a guy who comes through town that also played Knockout Ned. It's not just because that character in the unforgettable film City of God would probably kick your ass, it's also because Brazilian musician Seu Jorge — the actor who played him — is primarily a singer-songwriter who kicks ass.

"Watching American artists like Gene Kelly, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., everybody is a singer, dancer, composer, actor," says Jorge from his spot south of the equator. "Brazil is different `from the U.S.`. If you are a musician, then you are a musician. If you are an actor, then you are an actor. I think I am the first one in Brazil to do `both`."

Despite Jorge's phone cards, confusing accent, weariness from a long night of rehearsals and tricky, dual-continent cell-phone reception, his jovially succinct spirit still comes across. Between City of God, a cult classic in the hip-hop community that may be the only subtitled movie that many rappers will ever own, and acting in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic — a film that saw Jorge covering David Bowie in Portuguese in lieu of a Greek chorus — he may have made a more distinct impact on American culture than any contemporary Brazilian not named Ronaldo.

Now, Seu Jorge will be playing his most "rock & roll" songs from a sultry samba album released on L.A.'s Stones Throw subsidiary Now-Again. It's an album that covers Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" and nails it, making the forever dance hit a wedding song without making it terrible. It's Jorge's first mostly English album and the first he's recorded with a true backing band.

"I feel like an actor `on this album`," he says of Seu Jorge and Almaz. "It was the first time I was surrounded by artists and not just instrument players."

It's not that he doesn't respect his previous backers, just that he's really excited to jump a cultural barrier — the exact thing that the World Cup was supposed to do.

"It's very important, but my country is stopping for the World Cup. It's funny, but it's bad," says Jorge. "They lose focus on bigger things, but it could be good to win too. `They didn't.` Everybody expects the U.S. to be good in basketball, and they expect Brazil to be good at soccer."

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