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Alexandre Kassin is a leading Brazilian music producer (of over 100 recordings), a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. While he is best known outside his home country for his membership in the group +2 with Moreno Veloso and Domenico Lancellotti (his 2008 Futurismo album with the group is considered a classic), he was a seasoned veteran before the trio formed. He is also the composer of the soundtrack for the anime series Michiko to Hatchin. His studio activity during the 21st century has been prolific in his roles as a producer and a sideman. Kassin spent his youth in Zona Sul (the southern district of Rio), soaking up not only the sounds of Brazil, but the rock, pop, and dance music of Latin America. He joined the funky punk rock band Acabou La Tequila, who were notorious in the independent Carioca scene of the '90s for their chaotic, incendiary live shows. Their self-titled debut offering from 1996 has since become a bona fide Brazilian classic. Eight years later, after intense touring and activity, they issued their (final) sophomore outing, O Som Da Moda. During his tenure with Acabou La Tequila, Kassin began to establish himself as a producer as well as a go-to session player. In 2000, under the stage name Monaural, he composed the score for the smash indie film Casa. That same year, he, Veloso, and Lancellotti formed +2, and recorded the hit album Music Typewriter as Moreno + 2, which he produced and played on. The set also featured a number of guests, including Daniel Jobim and João Donato. He also helmed the sessions for Natiruts' Verbalize and Los Hermanos' Ventura, and played on Marisa Montes' Memórias Crônicas e Declarações de Amor. These outings signaled Kassin's arrival as an in-demand talent. In 2004, he produced and played bass on the next +2 outing, Sincerely Hot, this time fronted by Lancellotti; he also played bass on Caetano Veloso's A Foreign Sound (as well as being his producer and a member of his band) and Arto Lindsay's Salt. In 2005, he recorded under the name Artificial, and released Free U.S.A. on which he fostered experimentalism using nothing but a Game Boy as his instrument. The only other sounds heard on the set were Stephane San Juan's backing vocals on the track "Let's Make," and the piano of jazz musician Hiromi on closer "Palestina." The recording was a club hit and inspired many remixes. After producing Oio Ai's self-titled debut album in 2006, Kassin joined the Orquesta Imperial supergroup as bassist and co-producer for their debut long player, 2007's Carnaval Só Ano Que Vem. (Other members of this ever-evolving ensemble include Rodrigo Amarante, Lancellotti, and Veloso, Fabrizio Moretti, vocalist Thalma de Freitas, and legendary percussionist Wilson Das Neves.) Kassin has been a full-time member ever since, appearing as either a bassist, producer, or both, on half-a-dozen of their recordings. That same year he produced and appeared on Bebel Gilberto's Momento. In 2008, it was Kassin's turn to front + 2 on the album Futurismo. In 2009, he did all the drum programs and played synths on Gal Costa's acclaimed Recanto. He also produced and played on Vanessa Da Mata's Ao Vivo (and worked with her again on 2013's Vanessa da Mata Canta Tom Jobim and 2014's Segue O Som). Kassin also produced or played on recordings by Melvin Gibbs, Lenine, Ana Carolina, and Mallu Magalhães. 2011 saw the release of Kassin's first solo album, Sonhando Devagar, proceeded by its remix collection the following year. Also in 2012, +2 composed and produced the acclaimed soundtrack for the film Ima on Grupo Corpo. Kassin worked on Arnaldo Antunes' full-length Já É and Costa's Estratosférica, both issued in 2015. In 2016, Luaka Bop re-released all three +2 albums as well as Moreno Veloso's Coisa Boa, which also featured Lancellotti and Kassin. That year he produced Jonnata Doll's Crocodilo album and played on recordings by Emanuelle Araújo, Clarice Falcão, Cometa, and as part of Sonzeira's Tam Tam Tam Reimagined, a modern Gilles Peterson reworking of the classic album by José Prates. Kassin co-produced the Sonzeira track "Southern Freeez" for the Brownswood 10 Versions compilation and played bass on and co-produced Mario Biondi's 2018 offering Brasil. Kassin's second solo offering, Relax, was issued in Japan and Brazil in the summer of 2017, and by Luaka Bop in the United States in a slightly truncated version during the spring of 2018. Unlike Sonhando Devagar, which was concerned with the bliss of dreams, Relax focuses on the emotional states in waking life from the bittersweet and mundane to the euphoric and ironic in an 11 track collection (from 14 on the Brazilian version) that crisscrosses disco, funk, bossa, jovem garda, samba torto (crooked samba), pop and even bolero. Though he performed much of the album himself, Kassin also got valuable assistance from San Juan, Lancellotti, Alberto Continentino, Gabriela Riley, and Davi Moraes.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo
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