I was standing backstage at Cal State's Luckman Theater when I saw him: tall and thin, dark and intense, his lanky frame barely filling what was supposed to be a fitted suit. Though he was missing the mane of black hair he wore on the cover of his self-titled 1972 album, he was unmistakably composer, arranger and producer Arthur Verocai. Largely unknown in his home country of Brazil, Verocai is worshiped by the likes of TV on the Radio, Cut Chemist, DOOM and Madlib — all of whom were in attendance at this historic event, in which Verocai led a 30-piece orchestra in the first and only performance of his legendary album.
The evening didn't disappoint. Watching him on stage was transfixing. He didn't have to do much; he'd done all the hard work at age 25, when he wrote the original charts that this orchestra, under his watchful eye, played to the note. You got the feeling that he recognized just how important this concert was — not just for himself, but also for the lucky audience of 1,200.
The next day, as I fielded emails, text messages and IMs from those who were there, Cut Chemist put it best: "That was one of the best shows L.A. has ever seen." I felt the need to review my collection for some high points of Verocai's varied career — which stretched from the heady psychedelia of O Terco (whose first album he arranged) to the gorgeous pop of the little-known duo Ana Maria e Mauricio.