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Free Jazz Festival - Brazil

AAJ Staff By

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Submitted on behalf of Alvaro Neder

During the three nights, at the Club stage, the only dedicated to jazz, performed Moacir Santos Tribute: Ouro Negro, Bill Henderson Quartet, Chico Hamilton & Euphoria, Randy Weston's African Rhythms Quintet, The Benny Golson Sextet, Pat Martino and Phil Woods Quintet. Brazilian instrumental artists in a freer style also performed in this stage, like the young revelation of the acoustic guitar, Yamandú Costa, and the Curupira trio.
In the Thursday 25th, the Club was opened by an orchestra formed by talented and renowned Brazilian musicians who presented the "Ouro Negro" tribute to Moacir Santos (the same title of the CD recently recorded by them, dedicated to Santos's compositions), certainly the harmonically most advanced Brazilian popular composer. His creative music, deeply indebted to his researches on African music, offers a fertile field for the contrast between the visceral rhythm and the sophistication of his writing, evidenced by the execution of his inventive arrangements by the competent orchestra. Good though scarce improvised solos (another idiosyncrasy of the composer) also were offered by the soloists Nailor Proveta (alto sax, clarinet), Jessé Sadoc (trumpet), Teco Cardoso (baritone sax), Vittor Santos (trombone), Marcelo Martins (tenor sax), Andréa Ernst Dias (flute), Cristóvão Bastos (piano), Ricardo Silveira (guitar) and Zé Nogueira (soprano sax). In spite of the several first division vocal interpreters convoked for the album's recording (Milton Nascimento, Joyce, Djavan, Gilberto Gil, Ed Motta and others), no one of them was called for the show, and all songs had purely instrumental renditions. Opening with the "Coisas" series, the second number that was executed by the orchestra was Santo's only popular success, "Naná" ("Coisa # 5"), followed by other pearls like "Bluishmen", "Amalgamation", "Mãe Iracema", "Amphibious", always evidencing notable sound fluidity even if involved in accentuated harmonic restlessness. By the end, it was possible to notice that Moacir Santos created an afro-Brazilian language freed from references both to the Brazilian folkloric genres and bossa nova. Deeply moved, the 77 year-old artist who is still recovering from the stroke, having watched the show attentively from the first line, addressed the audience with some difficulty, thanking for the homage with emotion.
Following, Bill Henderson, from the height of his 71 years, climbed the stage with his habitual disposition and vocal quality. With humor, he reacted to the difficulties brought by the irritating sound leakage from the neighboring stage, Cream. His brilliant timbre and contagious swing, supported by the agile and inventive solos by Mike Melvoin (piano), by the confidence of veteran John Heard (bass) and by Larance Marable (drums) captivated the audience, who was surprised by the transformation od a Paul Simon classic ("Keep the Customers Satisfied") into a blues. Henderson also had a high performance in ballads like "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" and "My Ship".
The night ended with Chico Hamilton who, at 80, seems to have 20 years less. Hamilton, exhibiting his habitual excellence at the drums, accompanied by his semi-electric quintet Euphoria, provoked mixed reactions upon his imposition of the backbeat as a modernizing intention, searching for a sonority that oscillated between John McLauglin's jazz-rock (evoked by guitarist Cary DeNigris) and a commercial pop sound that flirted with new wave ("At The Corner"). The only correct actuation of Paul Ramsey (bass) and interesting solos by Evan Schwan (tenor) and Eric Lawrence (alto/soprano) also weren't enough to give consistency to a performance that sounded uncoordinated, amid to less creative themes (mostly riffs) and to the use of a kaleidoscope of styles that also included bossa nova ("That Boy With The Long Hair"). The utilization of the horns as accompaniment also was somewhat monotonous due to the exclusive option for the simultaneous attacks, rejecting the possibility of polyphony. One of the night's good surprises, though, was to have Chico as singer in three themes. Holding the microphone with the left hand and playing the drums with the right one, Chico conquered the audience with the blues "I'm Gonna Move Outskirts Of Town".


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