May 28, 2010
Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center
New York, NY
The late maestro Moacir Santos (1926-2006) might have been obscured by Antonio Carlos Jobim during his lifetime (the fact that he chose to live in Los Angeles was probably a factor), but his music has inspired countless Brazilian musicians through the years. Guitarist and arranger Mario Adnet has been one of the driving forces in bringing Santos' vast catalogue to wider audiences through numerous CDs and DVDs , some of which have been released in the US on the Adventure Music label.
Leading a 16-piece international ensemble at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall, Adnet presented a selection of tunes written, co-written and arranged by Santos. The group kicked things off with "Coisa nr. 2," which had little resemblance to what one would classify as "Brazilian;" the groove was more into 50s American swing. The group quickly followed with "Agora Eu Sei," a marchinha (little march) that took the mood to the beaches of Rio. Trombonist Luis Bonilla was the first to take a solo, and he took advantage of the tune's simple structure to play against the backbeat.
The majority of the selections played during the concert were heavily inspired by Afro-Cuban music. Such was the case of "Coisa nr. 4," a complex tune with shifting tempos and a climatic ending. Also in the same territory was "Bluishmen," which started in a slower tempo then shifted to double time after a few bars.
"Jequie" was the first samba featured in the first set, when guitarist Ricardo Silveira took the lead with his trademark solos played against the tune's tempo. Also notable was "Coisa nr. 5Nana" , a waltz with demanding time signature changes.
The second set opened with "Vaidoso," one of Santos' earliest compositions. Differently from most of the tunes on the concert, this one was a touching choro that featured a beautiful saxophone duet from Marcelo Martins(tenor) and Teco Cardoso(baritone), the latter playing a horn that had belonged to Santos himself.
Among the highlights of the second set was "Lemurianos," a tune in 5/8 tempo that was reminiscent of Duke Ellington's "Caravan," and "Coisa nr. 9," a slower, bolero-tinged melody in which Silveira, Bonilla, Ze Nogueira (soprano saxophone) and Kurt Bacher (alto saxophone) took individual solos.
Throughout the performance the importance of the percussion was unmistakable. Armando Marcal (considered one of the best percussionists in Brazil) added nuanced touches to each tune, highlighting the beat or the breaks in between. At his side, drummer Jurim Moreira kept a steady beat with few accents. Bassist Jorge Helder and keyboardist Marcos Nimrichter also kept things simple, providing a steady backup for the rest of the band, which was suitable to the material at hand.
Journey to Brazil was not exactly a selection of bossas or sambas; instead, it was more like a lesson on songs that many in attendance had probably never heard beforethe work of a great artist that needs to be rediscovered by wider audiences.