Tastemaker record label Fresh Selects (known for debuting the likes of SiR, Kadhja Bonet, and Charlotte Dos Santos) now introduce Brazilian keyboardist, beatmaker, and composer Tiago Frúgoli, with the April 18th release of Casa by his newly-formed Tiago Frúgoli Ensemble. Led confidently by Frúgoli’s smokey Fender Rhodes, Casa is a refreshingly modern take on Brazilian Jazz uniquely informed by an instrumental hip-hop / beat-tape ethos.
Growing up in São Paulo, Brazil, Tiago Frúgoli always knew music was the most important thing in the world to him. At age 4, he taught himself the melody to “Hey Jude” on the same piano he used to listen to his grandfather play old American standards on. He spent the first money he ever made (at age 10, for a voice-over gig) on piano lessons. At 15 he interned at YB Studios, a commercial recording and production studio. He started teaching music at 20 and has been at it ever since.
After releasing several indie projects as a producer, working with artists from the local hip-hop and experimental music scenes, and starting a cassette label, Ukiyo Beat Tapes, Frúgoli has come full circle — he’s now back at the school where he first had piano lessons (this time as a teacher) and at YB Studios (now as a composer and recording artist.)
On his new album Casa, Frúgoli pulls together all of these threads, combining — for the first time on the same project — his beat-making, engineering, piano, and writing skills. While previous records saw him handling all production and instruments himself, for Casa, Frúgoli assembled a group of versatile and talented players, bringing them all together to record new songs he’d written on the electric piano. This recording captures the first time the band played these tunes, with all the ensuing spontaneity and improvisation. Frúgoli then returned to his studio with the tapes and put his beat-making instincts to work, editing and mixing these raw recordings, as he puts it, “with a creative mindset like I do when I sample a record for a beat.”
Musicians on this album, all of them from the greater São Paulo area, include upright bass player Noa Stroeter and drummer João Fideles, who play together on their own project, Caixa Cubo; Valério, who plays kalimba on three tracks, including the lead single “Árvore”; Marcelo Miranda, who doubles on electric piano on the follow-up single “Longe” and “Estrada”; and Vitor Cabral, who plays drums and percussion on “De Casa” and “Pra Casa,” creating two totally different tracks from the same electric piano recording.
Another thread from the past comes together as Casa sees its release on Fresh Selects, a label Frúgoli has been an avid fan of since its early days as a widely respected blog. “The releases from that era which had the most influence on my own music came from the blog,” Frúgoli says, “It made perfect sense to me when Fresh Selects became a label. Since then, it’s definitely one of the very few labels which I give every release a full listen. After being influenced by Fresh Selects for over a decade, I’m honored to come full circle and have my own music as part of the catalog.”
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