In the late '60s, musician Tom Zé was one of the few Brazilian musicians striving to maintain the vitality of his native country's traditional music by introducing socially conscious lyrics and flamboyant pop-rock stylistics into the familiar formula. The result was a new form of music that came to be known as the Tropicalismo movement. Later, when devoted fan and fellow musician David Byrne reissued the music of Zé, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Os Mutantes, American fans began to get a grasp on just how much this innovative musical form influenced not only popular music, but politics as well. In the following years, Zé collaborated with such popular acts as Chicago's Tortoise while attracting an increasingly large audience. A perpetual innovator, Zé even foreshadowed the "mash-up" craze by mixing Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" with the Beatles' "Hey Jude" and infusing the tunes with an infectious samba flavor nearly 30 years before the rest of the world caught on. At the turn of the 21st century, Zé was still going strong, and now filmmaker Decio Matos Jr. offers a look at precisely how the enduring musician has managed to buck the fly-by-night trends and remain relevant for decades.
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