Perpetual Gateways, the brazilian musician/songwriter/producer/record collector, steps away from the AOR genre to enter the spiritual jazz territory with the help of Patrice Rushen, Greg Phillinganes and Hubert Laws. A transatlantic interview with Ed Motta.
Funk★U : Perpetual Gateways, your 15th album, explores the boundaries of jazz and spiritual jazz on several tracks. Why did you chose that particular direction ? Did you want to make a departure from the AOR sounds of your most recent recordings ?
Ed Motta : I had already recorded some jazz-oriented albums like Dwitza & Aystelum. Dwitza with a certain soundtrack influence using harpsichord, symphonic instruments etc. Aystelum has spiritual/free jazz with Broadway musicals I might say a bit like Escalator Over The Hill from Carla Bley.
I compose all the time many different things, soul ballads, jazz waltzes, pop songs, soundtrack inspired pictures searching for a movie and things. After AOR came to me some of these jazz inspired tunes and it’s very natural since I listen jazz everyday with all other kind of music I love.
But definitely I will record something strictly into AOR idiom very soon, I have many new songs for it.
The Perpetual Gateways casting is quite impressive : How did you manage to enroll Patrice Rushen, Greg Phillinganes and Hubert Laws on this record ? What did they bring to the general sound of the album ?
Who helped me to organize this event was the great musician Kamau Kenyatta. It was such a joy to hear these people I know from record collection playing my composition and arrangements. They are gifted artists so they come full of style, such a wonderful experience to me.
During your last performance in Paris, you have mentioned that this was the first time you wrote all the lyrics on one of your own albums. Is this really the case ? If yes, is this the trickiest part of your job ?
I co-wrote some things in the past, but I never started any sentence in lyrics in fact I have been all my life kinda less interested in words, the abstract side of music always attracted me more as something really free, something really out of our society scheme.
I started to write as a joke, and find it ok because I was trying to write some different situations than love songs or things like « Don’t You Wanna Dance ? », all these repetitive subject of popular music.
I might say it’s into storytelling, my dream is to one day have it on a Broadway musical style, like Stephen Sondheim one of my favorite composers ever.
Your vocal performance on this new album is amazing. Did you want to put an extra focus on your vocals on Perpetual Gateways ?
Merci ! I think because there’s less orchestration so the voice has more space to work, and we hear it better. On AOR I recorded two times, doubling vocals like Maurice White & Donald Fagen. But Kamau asked me to work in just one channel to have more soul in my voice. Kamau was very important in this voice sound, it was pretty much his idea.
What’s next for Ed Motta ?
Be rich (laughs) ! hope to keep writing songs, that’s my mission I do it as a special daily oxygen. I’d like to have again a radio program, I had one in São Paulo for two years.
I’d like also to record a solo DVD just myself on piano and guitar playing my hits, and things from the others I love…
Interview by Christophe Geudin. Photo : Sabrina Mariez.
Ed Motta Perpetual Gateways (Membran Records/Harmonia Mundi). Available on CD and digital version on February 5.