In his uninterrupted voyage around guitar poetics, Portuguese player Norberto Lobo has been on expeditions with several of the great names who keep on walking the Earth. Just recently, he played with Rhys Chatham’s ‘Guitar Trio’ in Lisbon; around the city’s stages he started a creative relationship with the inimitable Portuguese voice, Lula Pena; and jammed with guitar greats from across the spectrum: Stephen Basho-Junghans and Gary Lucas, Captain Beefheart’s wing man. On two occasions he shared the stage with friend Devendra Banhart.
On an eternally nomadic condition Norberto has played in Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, England, USA, Canada (where he opened, at her request, for Lhasa) and the Netherlands (where he played with renowned cellist Ernst Reijseger).
Someone once said we play classical guitar to prove ourselves before our fathers. As a demonstration of honor, dignity and self-sufficiency towards the one who gave us both name and manhood. But Norberto once said that what he really enjoyed was melody – that he, in fact, craved for it. Gazing upon the expression of those who have just seen Norberto on stage – or heard one of his records – it’s plain to see he has an ability to guide listeners to seldom visited inner landscapes.
Playing solo guitar is a public test of dexterity, creativity and heart – an attempt to bring together ideas and emotions that will summon a whole universe into existence. Norberto, between those six and twelve strings that wood can hardly contain, is able to unfold himself into multiple voices that rally together as quickly as they challenge each other.
He has tapped into a series of traditions and harnessed them into his own vision. Primitive music filtered through modern day free traditions: evoking the distinctive Portuguese playing of Carlos Paredes meditating on Lisbon and the Tagus river; echoing Paulinho da Viola’s trademark delicate choros and sambas, and revealing a love affair with Brazilian music; remembering Fahey and Charley Patton, by calling on the blues as a primordial filter of ache; all of it coupled with an honest-to-goodness appreciation and empathy with what it means to be a professional musician.
Norberto is slowly weaving his own stories, mining for forgotten emotions and mending long lost spiritualities. His is the sound of someone blissfully living in the modern Lisbon, which is also an old Lisbon; a celebration of the city in all its contradictions. His is the ability of someone who can make everyone around him feel special in the sharing of his gift.