Repeated facial grimaces and complaints between songs only worsened a sorry situation and its effect on his audience.
Those with high expectations of Ivan Lins were likely disappointed with his opening night performance at Jazz Alley on Friday, May 6. A bad cold severely hampered Lins' singing voice, confining it to rare moments of musical brilliance; and while his illness was unfortunate, his lack of professionalism onstage was much harder to forgive. At age 60, dressed extra-casual in a sweat suit and sneakers, the popular Brazilian singer/composer/pianist was making his first Jazz Alley appearance in seven yearsan event which created palpable pre-concert buzz among his local fan base. That base was led by local radio DJ Paula Maya, who welcomed Lins and his sextet to the stage by announcing that no Brazilian composer, with the exception of Antonio Carlos Jobim, has had more songs recorded in the U.S. An offering of hits spanning Lins' 30-plus year career included lush melodies in the Brazilian tradition ("Começar de Novo, "Nocturna ), a peace anthem denouncing the injustices of 1970's military dictatorship ("King of Carnivale ), and the African-inspired "Congada featuring drummer Teo Lima. The initial notes of "Love Dance, Lins' most-recorded work, were met with audible crowd approval, as was his sing-along set-closer "Madalena, the 1970 smash that launched his career in Brazil. Regrettably, the evening's strongest impression was left by Lins' compromised voice, which at its best is smooth and breathy in the upper register, forceful and focused in the lower. Tonight, despite brief lustrous moments of flight, high pitches could not be sustained and were either cut short or altogether inaudible. Try as he might, Lins was forced to scrap the lyric to "Começar de Novo. His condition would not have been as noticeable, however, had he not continually called attention to it. Repeated facial grimaces and complaints between songs only worsened a sorry situation and its effect on his audience.
But even more difficult to swallow was Lins' obvious lack of respect for the members of his band. Their position onstagelined up mugshot-style with backs to the wallmade eye-contact with their bandleader, who was situated front and center, all but impossible. No personnel introductions were made; too few solos were allotted. While emphasizing one's star status may be the norm in a large arena setting, within the intimate confines of a nightclub like Jazz Alley such behavior comes off as arrogance. Especially, when one is performing with first-rate musicians the likes of Lima, Leonardo Amuedo (guitar/acoustic guitar), Ze Carlos (acoustic guitar/cavaquinho), Marco Brito (keyboards), and Nema Antunes (electric five-string bass). Not surprisingly, Lins' sidemen returned the slight; mid-song conversations and muffled laughter drew attention away from their leader and his music.
Less dictatorship and more democracy has worked wonders for the people of Brazil. Surely, adopting a similar onstage policy would benefit even a big name like Ivan Lins.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.