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Amanda Ruzza Band: New York, NY, November 8, 2012

Ernest Barteldes By

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Amanda Ruzza Band
Zinc Bar
New York, NY
November 8, 2012

Brazilian-born bassist Amanda Ruzza took the stage at Greenwich Village's Zinc Bar, backed by a solid band—drummer Mauricio Zotarelli, electric guitarist Alex Nolan, pianist Mamiko Watanabe, trombonist Chris Stover and tenor/soprano saxophonist Ben Flocks—about which the bandleader jokingly referred as "a nice band with three boys and three girls." The set opened with a trombone-led samba, with a funk edge that allowed for lots of improvisation from the entire ensemble, with each player taking a completely different approach to his/her solo. Watanabe tended to be subtler, carefully choosing her notes in a more contemporary groove, while Nolan went in a more jazz-rock direction. Stover used his entire body when soloing, shaking his legs and arching his back, while Zotarelli and Ruzza kept a tight backbeat and added a few creative accents in-between.

The set list was balanced between compositions from Ruzza, Stover and Watanabe, as well as a couple of covers. On Ruzza's "This Is What Happened," the bassist was very creative, performing fast-paced solos on her five-string electric bass. Another impressive moment came with "Pagao," an obscure song by the legendary Pixinguinha (1897-1973), known for bringing chorinhos to the mainstream in his native country. Here, Stover and Ruzza started out with an intricate duet that later moved into a laidback and contemporary samba feel. Also notable was "Pimenta No Choro," an up-tempo Ruzza original that utilized a Sao Paulo samba groove.

The musicians—many of whom participated in Ruzza's debut, This Is What Happened (Self Produced, 2012)—had great chemistry together. Later in the evening, Ruzza participated in a second set of music by singer Caetano Veloso, who was in the audience during the bassist's set, in an ensemble led by Stover.

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