By The Associated Press
JACKSON – Jackson blues guitarist Jesse Robinson is in Brazil, where a continuing Two Rivers Cultural Exchange program is forging ties between Brazilian and Mississippi musicians.
The highlight of Robinson’s trip was a closing concert at the huge festival Virada Cultural in Sao Paulo on the main stage with great Brazilian guitarist, producer and composer Robertinho de Recife.
The festival is a round-the-clock cultural marathon on the city’s streets that attracts millions.
“I guess I don’t get nervous because I think I’m somewhat prepared,” Robinson said, laughing, recently before embarking on his first overseas trip. He’s been learning guitar “forever,” he said; he turns 68 at the end of May.
He played with all-Brazilian bands. “They recognize a lot of blues over there,” he said.
The grassroots, Brazil-Mississippi exchange program began this past November with Robertinho’s trip to Mississippi (he’d previously performed here at the 1987 Jubilee! JAM).
The two rivers of the program’s title refers to the Mississippi River and the Capiberibe River in Brazil.
Other high points of the exchange include a CD that Robinson played on last November with Ze Ramalho and other Brazilian musicians – synchronized with Robinson at Terminal Recording Studio here, said Carl Kolb, a native of Brazil who lives here and has helped as a translator with the project.
For that CD, Robinson was in Ridgeland. The other musicians were in Brazil. It was recorded in Portuguese. The only language Robinson had to communicate with was the universal language of music.
“I heard the music and that’s what I played to,” he said. “I still don’t know what the words were about. … But I played with the music. … A couple of tracks, it was there.”
“We’re hoping it will grow more,” Kolb said of the project.
Recently, young Brazilian folk and religious singer Allyson Castro recorded a dozen hymns previously sung by Elvis Presley. The recording was done at Terminal using musicians from the King of Rock’n'Roll’s home state. Playing on that project were Robinson, Sherman Lee Dillon, Andrew Dillon, Jimmy Jarratt, Bob Pieczyk and Dwight Ross.
“All the musicians on this new CD are from here, except the singer, the star,” Kolb said.
Mixing and vocals will be done in Brazil. Produced by Robertinho, it’s going to be released in Brazil. Kolb said vocals may also be done in English for limited release here if there’s interest.