Samba Christmas at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola

Nick Catalano By

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The Brazilian tidal wave which has been building throughout the fall at Dizzy's continued its flow with a holiday line-up of samba stalwarts. Led by percussionist Duduka Da Fonseca, pianist Helio Alves and vocalist Maucha Adnet, the all-star group featured sax/ clarinetist Anat Cohen, guitarist Mike Moreno, and bassist Hans Glawischnig.

Most interesting in this latest appearance by the Brazilians was the presentation of a mostly new repertoire and a new guest. Early in the second set on opening night (Dec. 19) Da Fonseca introduced flutist/saxophonist Mauro Senise, a bandleader who had performed with Da Fonseca in Rio during the 70's. Quite notable, Senise had also performed with Egberto Gismonti, and was featured in this set of new musical presentations with a performance of "Melancia" by pianist Rique Pantoja who was a member along with Senise of Cama de Gato—an important band in Brazil.

The unveiling of musical personalities and compositions rarely heard at Dizzy's had a positive response from the audience which has been nurtured by a diet of Jobim standards for quite some time. Warm applause greeted the performance of the opening selection "Galfiera" by pianist Dom Salvador containing solos from Alves, Glawischnig, Da Fonseca, and Moreno which were scintillating. This tune was followed by more of the music from the vast catalogue of rarely heard sambas i.e. "Viver de Amor" by famed guitarist Toninho Horta.

Later in the set one of the most authentic of Brazilian vocalists made her appearance. Maucha Adnet possesses an arsenal of those difficult-to-define vocal essences reflective of the best Brazilian singers. Her husky vocalism perfectly captures the gravelly consonant combinations so essential to Portugese articulation and her phrasing nuances delicately punctuate the hypnotic samba rhythm. Adnet continued the new musical unveiling with performances of "Cancao do Sal' by Milton Nascimento and an ancient ditty "Tico Tico no Fuba" composed in 1917 by Zequinha de Abreu and arranged by guitarist/ composer Mario Adnet.

A highlight of the evening was a performance of "Birimbau" by Baden Powell with lyrics by Vinicius De Moraes. The song celebrates the Birimbau instrument—a bow-shaped affair with a cabaca or gourd acting as a resonator. The birimbau originates from the slave culture in Angola and is pivotal in establishing the Afro-Brazilian musical connections. Da Fonseca, who was born in Rio and raised in Ipanema, introduced the tune with an extended solo on this intriguing percussive/melodic contrivance which reflects much of the exotic and mysterious nature of Brazilian instrumentation. The performance of "Birimbau" also certified the theme of the set—the unveiling of the lesser known compositions.

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