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Milton Nascimento at The Blue Note, Oct 26, 2006

Ernest Barteldes By

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Milton Nascimento
Blue Note Jazz Club
New York
October 26, 2006

Returning to the Blue Note for only the second time in his long career, Brazilian-born Milton Nascimento played a memorable concert on the fourth day of his week-long residence there. This time around, he was not promoting any particular album, so this year's show was not a repeat of 2005's Pietá tour, which featured protegé Marina Machado.

For this show, he was backed by a quartet comprising musicians who have been performing with him over the years: Lincoln Cheib on drums, Gastão Villerroy on bass, Kiko Continentino on keys and Wilson Lopes on guitar.

The show opened with a wordless vocal piece reminiscent of some of Chick Corea's popular compositions, leaving a lot of space for the band play with. The leader followed with an instrumental piece, an early song of his featuring intricate three-part harmonies and a melody that despite its complexity brought several of the audience members to tears.

Nescimento then went on to his more familiar material, playing a cheerful version of "Bola de Meia," a song he recorded with vocal group Boca Livre years ago, though for this live performance the focus was on the percussion. "Maria Fumaça" was another opportunity to showcase the talents of his musicians, this time the formidable chops of bassist Gastão Villeroy.

In one of the evening's highlights, the band took a break while 21-year-old godson Ademir Fox sat in on piano and accompanied Nascimento on "Encontros e Despedidas," a song recorded by Maria Rita on her 2003 recording début. The young pianist's technique blended well with the mood of hopeful yearning expressed by the song's words, and his own solo on the tune was especially impressive.

Next, Nascimento paid tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim by performing "A Felicidade," a classic song from the movie Black Orpheus. It began as a bossa nova piece that evolved into heated jazz, then acquired a Carnaval beat before ending in the subdued manner of the opening measures.

The concert ended with "Maria Maria," one of the classic, crowning jewels of the leader-composer's songbook. Despite his years, Milton Nascimento continues to be a driving force in the music of Brazil, and from what I could see on this evening, he shows no signs of slowing down.

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