Arto Lindsay, Egberto Gismonti, Kassin, Orquestra Imperial & Arnaldo Antunes
The second half involved a pair of duos followed by the inevitable full foursome climax. The pairing of Valdés and Rubalcaba suffered from a jokiness that was perhaps a reaction to their unattainable momentum. The ultimate quartet improvisation maintained interest, but its tension of uncertainty led to frustration rather than excitement. The four never really coalesced, and the journey moved to frequent ports, never quite establishing a firm foothold. Perhaps the audience was in agreement, as there was no call for an encore. Maybe the show was satisfyingly lengthy, or maybe the urge just wasn't there. Speaking of the audience, the majority fidgeting disease was rampantly spread. It's astounding how many folks just cannot handle sitting still any more, without openly chatting, wriggling around in their seats, attempting to film or photograph, or just plain gazing into their illuminated screens. This was mostly quiet music that demanded complete concentration.
December 4, 2012
Following the Carnegie gig, it was possible to savor a completely contrasting performance, caught at very close club quarters, in the sonic embrace of Brazilian rock, funk, jazz and pop. Nublu, in Alphabet City, has a consistent connection with Brazilian music, besides its many other loves. Kassin is probably even more renowned as a producer than as a performer, but here was a chance to catch his own band, the night before several of its members were playing in Orquestra Imperial at Carnegie Hall, again as part of Voices From Latin America. Kassin plays bass with that large ensemble, but in his own combo he mostly sticks to guitar. Comparison with Arto Lindsay is apt, as the songs melded a pop sensibility with outbreaks of rugged rockiness. Kassin's solos were well-contrasted with those of his guitaring compadre, opting for a spiky punk atonality, whereas the latter's licks were more descended from the flowing Carlos Santana line. Eras of rock 'n' roll clashed within one band. Kassin's vocals were often deadpan and world-worn, but the band exuded a playful vitality, intensified by frequent saxophone solos.
Orquestra Imperial/Arnaldo Antunes
December 5, 2012
A contrasting Brazilian double bill opened with Arnaldo Antunes, a very influential singer in his homeland. Emerging from the post-punk era, this stance was still visible in his work, even though the songs were rife with pop melodies. It seems as though much of his individuality was contained within the words, so a facility with Portuguese was probably preferred. The band features a few quirky trimmings, with the use of banjo and copious guitar effects. Indeed, guitarist Edgard Scandurra employed a vocal effect that soon became an irritating novelty. Antunes sat on a high stool for much of the duration, but leaped up to demonstrate his distinctive dance moves, involving impressive footwork that seemed somehow redolent of the 1980s post-punk period. He's no great melodicist, but Antunes is concerned with the communication of his personality and poetic sentiments.
The 20-piece Orquestra Imperial offered a more impressive spectacle. It was difficult to fix its category, other than being obsessed with a retro glorification of a vintage form of Brazilian music that might even be an illusion. Imperial co-opted and updated a range of styles into an ultimate form of nostalgic dance music, but they couldn't be compartmentalized as either old school or new innovators. The group was rooted in the gafieira big band samba that stretched from the 1940s to the 1970s. Roles within the band were frequently switched, with at least four singers cavorting at the front of the stage, blessed with a range of individualist voices and body languages. Their number included Thalma de Freitas and Moreno Veloso (the son of Caetano). This was obviously the right combo to play second in the evening, cumulatively gliding towards a rousing, controlled chaos of a finale.