The first hour of Joao Bosco's appearance April 21st on the Mainstage at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts was a mixed blessing. Even with brilliant pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba in tow (though oddly separated from the guitarist and his band stage left behind his Steinway), the audio snafus and lack of camaraderie within the musical unit ultimately left something to be desired.
Crackling from the main pa was no less disconcerting than seeing stage crew fumbling with equipment as the musicians played early in the set. Perhaps the combination of the two intrusions was the source of the dislocation for Bosco, Rubalcaba and co. Regardless, the audience in the theatre, as is their wont in this respected venue, was eager to be pleased, and so warmly applauded each solo in turn, with the occasional yelp of recognition accompanying the introduction of the individual players.
Bosco took attendance while Rubalcaba was offstage. The young jazzman had played for little moRe than a half-hour before his exit, but had arguably provided the real highlights of the performance to that point: his feather-light touch on the ivories generatedsome real forward momentum in the music and the band united behind him during those interludes like they never did otherwise. The initial collaboration of Bosco and Rubalcaba at the Montreal Jazz Festival would ostensibly extend their bond, but that didn't seem to be the case.
That aside, there is no denying the spirit of Bosco's own musicianship: he did nothing to undermine his reputation as the preeminent Brazilian songwriter and performer in the world today. It's only that, left to his own devices with his group, only drummer Leonardo Francisco de Castro Freitas stands out as a kindred high spirit.
Availing himself of a variety of percussion devices, using sticks, brushed and bare hands, occasionally in combination,de Castro Freitas was as riveting to watch as hear in a way matched only by Gonzalo Rubalcaba when he was on stage.
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