Montreal musician Rodrigo Simões, who is from Curitiba, in south-eastern Brazil, is a guitarist and mandolin player whose career got off to a strong start before his arrival in Canada.
He began with solid musical training in Brazil, in particular at the Paraná Faculty of Arts and at the Conservatory of Brazilian Popular Music in Curitiba, specializing in popular guitar music and jazz. In addition, he gave courses in harmony and was involved in several musical groups.
Also a composer and arranger, Simões explores typically Brazilian genres such as traditional choro inherited from Portugal, which highlights the instrumentalists’ virtuosity and the complexity of the musical lines, along with samba and Brazilian jazz.
In the 2000s, he toured in Brazil and abroad with some of the big names in Brazilian music, including singer Elza Soares, samba artist Paulinha da Viola, pop singers Zeca Baleiro and Siba, and accordionist Dominguinhos. In 2008, he went on a major tour in Australia with an Iraqi world music group and several other groups, followed by a tour in China the same year with the Brazilian group Eddie.
In 2013, Simões launched his first album, Aos Velhos Amigos (To old friends), with compositions featuring string instruments (acoustic guitar, mandolin, seven-string guitar, accordion, bass, flamenco guitar and viola caipira, a guitar from rural Brazil).
In Canada, Simões continued his university studies with a master’s degree in jazz composition at the Montreal University under the supervision of famous bass player Alain Caron, a former member of the jazz-rock group UZEB.
These two years of studies culminated in his second album, titled simply Jazz brésilien, issued in 2018 by the Montréal record label Multiple Chord Music (MCM).
Inspired by the traditional Brazilian genres of maracatú, forró and samba, the album is composed and arranged by Simões with the collaboration of jazz singer and Juno award-winner Sonia Johnson, who wrote three songs in French and English. The album brings together well known local musicians, in particular saxophonist Jean-Pierre Zanella, and includes a samba version of “Bluesette” by Toots Thielemans.