You may not recognise the name, but you know the talent behind it, and you’re sure to have already heard his enchanting way with a melody. Rodrigo Leão was one of the musicians and composers behind the extraordinarily successful Portuguese ensemble Madredeus; he was in the band for nearly 10 years before leaving to focus on his own solo career.
Yet, Madredeus was only one of the many stops of an incredible 30-year journey that has seen Rodrigo Leão invite Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon or Tindersticks’ Stuart Staples to sing on his albums and live shows; perform with Ryuichi Sakamoto or Ludovico Einaudi. And he has now taken a new career as a soundtrack composer– this year alone he contributed new music to French hit “The Golden Cage” and wrote the score for Lee Daniels’ “The Butler”. Rodrigo Leão remains, though, the same quietly spoken, modestly talented Lisboner who started out as a bassist in an indie-rock band before moving into Madredeus’ chamber-pop and into the neo-classical textures of his own early solo material. Madredeus wrote music for a Wim Wenders movie and many of his own instrumental pieces seemed like soundtrack music in search of a film; Rodrigo’s 2004 album was called “Cinema”, and from then on his backing group became the Cinema Ensemble. And, as he moved further in his explorations of instrumental textures, he felt the need to return to the simplicity of the pop song. He has done so over the past ten years, inviting others to lend their voices to his music. Portuguese stars such as The Gift’s Sónia Tavares or alt-Fado singer Lula Pena; Brazilian up-and-comers Rosa Passos and Thiago Petit; and internationally acclaimed singers such as Beth Gibbons, Neil Hannon, Stuart Staples and, more recently, Joan Wasser (Joan as Policewoman) have enriched Rodrigo’s songs and taken his work on voyages to new and more exciting places. Many of these songs have been collected on Rodrigo’s compilation “Songs” available internationally on Glitterhouse Records – an excellent introduction to his versatility and talent. On stage, he is available in a series of different line-ups and projects depending on which side of his creativity you want to tap into…
Either way, let Rodrigo Leão’s wondrous talent show you the way!
Rodrigo Leão Casino do Estoril – 2009
in El Mundo
«Every track is unique and every one’s a gem!»
in Songlines Magazine
“Some music can have so much poise that it simply radiates. It expands both one’s musical and emotional landscapes. Such is the music of Rodrigo Leao, one of Portugal’s finest musicians and producers.” (…) His music simply flourishes with ideas and there was a rich and creative outpouring of good music that night.” in All About Jazz, Nenad Georgievski, (Rodrigo Leao at the Off Festival, Macedonia)
All Year (under request)