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Gilberto Gil - the string concert at Hogg Auditorium

Parry Gettelman

Brazilian superstar Gilberto Gil has made an enormous impact on his own country and the international scene since the 1960s, when he and Caetano Veloso emerged as leaders of the Tropicalia movement. Over the years, Gil has explored many avenues, from samba, bossa nova, forro and other Brazilian styles to rock, reggae, funk and jazz, collaborating along the way with the likes of Jorge Ben, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Thielemans and Os Mutantes' Rita Lee. On his latest U.S. tour, which brings him to Hogg Memorial Auditorium tonight and Thursday , the singer-composer-guitarist is presenting his work in a string setting, teaming with his son, guitarist Bem Gil, and cellist Jaques Morelenbaum, acclaimed for his

work as a musician and arranger with Veloso and countless others.

In an e-mail interview, Gil said the concept for this format arose right at home.

"I used to play my songs from different periods of my long career at home on my acoustic guitar, and my son, Bem Gil, became, some five years ago, interested in them. This was the initial move for this String Concert project. The set list is based on my new album, 'BandaDois,' but it might change from one show to the other.

"Perhaps of all my 8 children, Bem is the one who caught better the essence of my work. But it was very spontaneous and he became interested in playing my stuff very recently. He also has his own band — Tono — and they do a completely different kind of music."

The musical relationship with Morelenbaum is also fairly new.

"The enchanted world of music is made of the miracle of meetings among creators," Gil said. "I have dedicated my life to meeting those with whom I can share my love of music, and one day I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Jaques Morelenbaum. He has also dedicated his life to these encounters. We have had a few opportunities to meet and share our love of music together and with others. We are now going to be three: Jaques, myself and Bem, my son, who is starting his career and is in search of his own musical direction. It will for sure be a joy and a pleasure to play together and I will try to give to those who come to see us an idea of the eternal miracle of the song."

Although he has a day off between performances in Austin, Gil's busy touring and recording schedule means that it will be devoted to "REST REST REST."

"I am already working on the repertoire for a new album completely dedicated to the June Feasts (St. John, St. Antony and St. Peter), after carnaval the most popular music manifestation in our culture," Gil said. "I will record the album as soon as I get back from the U.S. tour (April) and will start touring it in June (Brazil) and July (Europe)."

While musically prolific — Gil has more than 50 albums to his credit — he has also long made time for social, environmental and political causes, and even served as Brazil's minister of culture from 2003 to 2008. While it's hard to imagine Gil's closest American equivalent, Bob Dylan, taking on such a demanding government post, Gil didn't find his creativity stymied.

"Perhaps I had to be more creative as a minister than as a musician as the budget was so low (I managed to raise it a little bit) and there was so much to be done. \u2026 But I am proud of having accepted President Lula's invitation and I think I did quite a good job there."

Fans worldwide, of course, are glad that he successfully completed his tenure as a public servant and is back on more familiar stages.