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Live Reviews

Third Annual Chivas Jazz Festival

By Published: March 8, 2004
But the evening was still far from finished, with Dewey Redman taking his position seconded by Rita Marcotulli (piano), John Menegon (bass) and Matt Wilson (drums). Redman's eclectic presentation, which can be read as an attempt of telling through music a synchronic history of jazz, started with "Second Balcony Jump", classic by Jerry Valentine interpreted in the manner of Dexter Gordon. "Wall Bridges", with its energetic unaccompanied sax solo followed by the piano, reinforced a dichotomy between the tonal and the atonal, while the ballad "Joie de Vivre" featured very lyric solos, with the piano oscillating between the sentimental and the polytonal. "Unknown Tongue" was the ritual moment when Redman made use of the exotic timbre of the musette (Arab instrument with an oboe-like mouthpiece) to introduce also the communal and African roots of the music through his tribal dance over ostinato and his conclamation to the audience, that acquiesced repeating his phrases/vocalises with enthusiasm, forming a polyphony under his conduction. In "Turn Over Baby", Redman built up with the tenor a crescent tension which took the audience to an euphoria when he flowed into the exciting blues. The outline of his particular vision of jazz was finished at the encore, when swing did its entrance under the auspices of "Take The 'A' Train". The ecstatic ovation paid tribute, certainly, not only to the high technical/expressive quality of Redman's execution but also to the excellent and creative musicians of his band, of which Wilson deserves a highlight having explored successfully timbres and resources extremely unusual of his instrument.

The last night of the festival was opened by Fred Hersch who performed without extra support. Transforming in strength this challenging condition, Hersch saw himself free to interpret "Whisper Not" (Benny Golson) in a chamber music setting, introducing a polyphonic treatment indebted to Bach that really fit tastefully in the delicate melody. "So In Love" (Porter) and "The Nearness of You" (Boogie Carmichael) put in evidence his mature inventiveness with firmness even if under the sensitivity of his poetics, while in "Mood Indigo" (Ellington) Hersch explored other resources of his ample palette, this time through the locked-hand; then in "In Walked Bud" (Monk) Hersch preferred to understand the bridge in staccato, using in his solo virtuosic scales sustained by a walking-bass line. The introspective atmosphere of his creation was emblematically represented by the original "Endless Stars", with its arpeggios at the superhigh region translating efficiently his intention. His presentation was finished with "O Grande Amor" (Jobim), in a beautiful polyphonic arrangement.

With the entrance of Luciana Souza, though, Hersch, who has been developing a work with the Brazilian singer, remained in the stage as a sideman, with Márcio Bahia (drums, for over 20 years performing with Hermeto Pascoal) and the young Alberto Continentino (bass), both Brazilians - a strategic choice. Luciana performed "officially" in Brazil for the first time, for she has been developing her career in the U.S. since several years, and the introduction granted her the favour both of the press and of consecrated artists present who were more than emphatic in praising her, as Leny Andrade and Wanda Sá. Apart from nationalistic prides, Luciana, an extremely competent singer, owner of a perfect intonation and gifted with a beautiful timbre, nevertheless, brought almost nothing of jazz to her presentation, which was a delightful performance built around a certain well-known ideological conception of a Brazil in interface with the First World. This conception is structured around: an image of Brazil already familiar abroad, where "folkloric" elements are intertwined to "modernizing" ones represented by the original "Daze" (where the Flora Purim style was consciously evocated in the composition/execution), "Pra Que Discutir com Madame" (by Janet de Almeida/Haroldo Barbosa, João Gilberto's classic known worldwide, interpreted here as a "typical" samba with pandeiro and the bass emulating the surdo, in which Luciana produced a virtuosic rehearsed scat in unison with the bass), "Corcovado" (by Jobim, in a sophisticated interpretation in duo with Hersch), "Azul Contente" (a 1962 classic penned by her parents Walter Santos/Teresa Souza interpreted "typically" with pandeiro and percussion, and after the joining by piano/bass, as a swinging samba), and the purely demagogic/exotic "Vem Morena" (Luís Gonzaga/Humberto Teixeira), interpreted in the encore by Luciana accompanied only by zabumba (a percussive instrument of Northeastern origin associated to an image of Brazilian "purity").

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