It can easily be argued that Pedro Abrunhosa has always chosen the most difficult path in life. Unlike most musicians who start off as part of a ‘garage band’ or make a name for themselves in light music before progressing onto more daring projects, Abrunhosa decided to do the opposite. Aged 16, he studied Analysis, Composition and History of Music with Álvaro Salazar and Jorge Peixinho at the School of Music of Oporto. He later went on to study Composition with Cândido Lima at the Conservatory of Music of Oporto. At this time, he was also invited to participate in composer Enrique X. Macias’ “Contemporary Music Group of Madrid”, with whom he performed both in Portugal and Spain.
Abrunhosa entered into the world of music via the academic route and quickly became a talented jazz musician. In 1984, he went to Madrid to study with bass player Todd Coolman and fellow musicians Joe Hunt, Wallace Rooney, Gerry Niewood and Steve Brown. Shortly afterwards, he studied the double bass with musicians Adriano Aguiar and Alejandro Erlich Oliva. Those were Abrunhosa’s jazz years. He went on to participate in international seminars, form music groups, play in orchestras and complete tours, all the while collaborating with noteworthy figures, including Paul Motion, Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano, David Liebman and Billy Hart. He taught the double bass in the Hot Club de Lisboa School, directed and produced the radio program “Até Jazz” for the Rádio Clube do Porto, and also founded the Oporto Jazz School and the “Cool Jazz Orchestra”, which later evolved into the group “Pedro Abrunhosa e a Máquina do Som” (Pedro Abrunhosa and the sound machine) playing original material.
In 1994, he released the album “Viagens” (Travels) with the band “Bandemónio”, venturing into the genre of lively jazz rock. Whether it was by a second-hand Renault 4L or hitch-hiking as a backpacker, Pedro Abrunhosa traversed the world as he did musical genres. Contrary to other artists, his musical career went from the most difficult end of the spectrum to the easiest, deconstructing language and showing an appreciation for the essence of things along the way. When he delved into rock, he brought with him a lifetime’s worth of experiences and teachings. “Viagens” went triple-platinum, with more than 140,000 copies sold, finally earning public recognition and playing to large audiences at a time. He had something to say, and his audiences were listening.
Since then, he has enjoyed continued success. In 1995, he released the EP “F”, followed by the album “Tempo” (Time) in 1996. The album sold more than 80,000 copies in its first week, and would eventually go on to reach quadruple-platinum status, selling over 180,000 copies. In 1999, he released “Silêncio” (Silence), followed by “Momento” (Moment) in 2002, achieving platinum and double platinum status respectively. The 3-disk album “Palco” (Stage), released in 2003 and featuring live performances, sold more than 70,000 copies, followed two years later by a live DVD recorded at the inauguration of the Casa da Música (House of Music) concert hall in Oporto, which became another great success, despite the economic crisis. In 2007, he released the album “Luz” (Light).
2010 marked a big turning point in his career. He reunited with the band “Comité Caviar” and worked with the producer João Bessa, eventually releasing the double-platinum selling album “Longe” (Far away). Songs such as “Fazer o que ainda não foi feito”, “Não desistas de mim”, “Pode o céu ser tão longe” became an integral part of Abrunhosa’s unique repertoire of musical compositions. During this time, he travelled the length and breadth of Portugal, performing to sold-out crowds on a 100-date tour, which also included dates in Brazil, Spain, France and Angola. Each show is unique; each show is unforgettable.
In December 2013, Abrunhosa released his seventh studio album “Contramão”, (Opposite direction) featuring 11 new songs, including the singles “Toma conta de mim” (Take care of me) and “Voamos em Contramão” (Flying in opposite direction).
‘For me, an album is more and more like a book; a continuous narrative of mixed-up stories which come together in the music I write, the characters I create - sometimes tormented, other times content – and in the feelings of loss and defeat that a lot of people can relate to. I speak about myself through the voices of others but I substitute myself for them using my own voice. Ever since becoming a musician, I always looked to improve the simplicity of that which truly fascinates me: writing songs. Whatever music I make is just that: my life expressed though lyrics and harmony. If listeners can relate to it too then my job is done and I can hit the road with the next album in mind.’
The words of Pedro Abrunhosa who, for this latest album, teamed up once again with musicians “Comité Caviar” and the producer João Bessa, just like with his last album. “Contramão” was recorded in Boom Studios and features special duets with Camané and the Catalan flamenco star Duquende.
Camané is one of the best fado singers of his generation and is considered a Portuguese national treasure. Speaking of Duquende, Paco de Lucia once stated that ‘In Barcelona, there is a monster – Duquende. He possesses the magic of song, inspiration and technique’. Boasting a long and fruitful career (his first album was released in 1988), Duquende has worked with some of the finest names in flamenco, including Juan Carmona, Juan Goméz, Paco de Lucia and Vicente Amigo. To duet with any flamenco star, let alone Duquende, was a dream come true for Abrunhosa. As well as “Comité Caviar”, the Saint Dominic Choir (conducted by João Castro) and the Matosinhos String Quartet (“Quarteto de Cordas de Matosinhos), conducted by Pedro Moreira, were also invited to participate in the recording process.
Pedro Abrunhosa + Comité Caviar live band