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Scott Feiner At Smoke Jazz Club

Ernest Barteldes By

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Scott Feiner & Pandeiro Jazz
Smoke Jazz Club
New York, New York
November 4, 2009

Quite a few fans and critics seem to have a misconception of Scott Feiner's Pandeiro Jazz project. Because he lives in Rio de Janeiro, plays the pandeiro and often includes compositions by Brazilian songwriters like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Gonzaga, many are quick to label his work as "Brazilian jazz." However, listening to him live, one realizes that what he is doing is something completely different. As an American, Feiner plays his instrument from the point of view of a jazz musician who happens to have chosen an instrument native to his current country of residence as opposed to a niche player specializing in a single idiom of the music.

At his recent stop at New York's Smoke Jazz Club, Feiner performed with a quintet formed by Helio Alves(piano), Joe Martin (bass),Freddie Bryant (guitars) and Seamus Blake (sax), opening the set with the title track from his latest disc, Dois Mundos (Biscoito Fino,2009) in an arrangement centered on Bryant's electric guitar and Blake's saxophone. During the individual moments, Alves and Feiner showed sensitive interaction, while Bryant took the forefront with his chord-filled guitar solos.

Next up was Bryant's "Alone," a tune to be included on Feiner's yet-to-be-released third Pandeiro Jazz CD. The composer channeled his inner Brazilian voice, introducing it with abundant bossa nova-like chords. He was joined by the other bandmembers about a minute and a half later. "Alone" is played around a repeated four-chord loop, which gave the band plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their chops. One of the most impressive parts came when Blake played accompanied solely by Martin and Alves.

Next up was Martin's very slow bossa "Not By Chance," the title track from his recent CD (Anzic Records, 2009). Due to the song's nature, Feiner played in a much more subdued manner, and the same held true for the rest of the band. The odd man out in this case was Blake, who did not seem to get the genre's subtleties, playing instead a loud solo, much as Stan Getz did in the various Brazilian- themed discs under his name, especially the best-selling Getz / Gilberto (Verve, 1963). Alves, on the other hand, was quick to bring the dynamics down during his own solo.

One of the concert's highlights came when Alves and Feiner performed Hermeto Pascoal's "Bebe" as a duo. Alves introduced the rhythm on the piano, with Feiner soon following through with intricate patterns. It is a highly complex number that served to showcase the bandleader's prowess on his hand drum, while also allowing the audience to observe the extraordinary chemistry Feiner and the Brazilian-born pianist have developed.

The set closed with Feiner's "Botafogo Blues," a funk-driven number inspired by the Rio district he lives in. Bryant took full advantage of the groove by playing with a slide, which gave the piece a whole new, aggressive sound compared to the more subtle dynamics that had preceded it.

With his project, Feiner has taken the pandeiro to a whole different level, innovative and broad-based, proving that indeed jazz practically knows no borders or limits.

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