Monday, February 13, 2017

A fine tribute to Brazilian jazz

To fully appreciate the rich place that Brazilian jazz holds today among the world's music forms, you have to go back to its roots in the late 1950s and the 1960s. So that's what a top-notch quintet did on Sunday, February 12 on Longboat Key, across the bay from Sarasota FL.

The event, co-sponsored by the Jazz Club of Sarasota and Longboat Key's Temple Beth Israel, musically transformed the temple into an acoustically superb jazz room for the afternoon, one where the instruments needed little or no amplification.
Bob Bowlby

The band included bassist Don Mopsick, who programmed the afternoon, pianist Joe Delaney, guitarist Nate Najar, drummer Eddie Metz Jr., and alto saxophonist Bob Bowlby. The versatile Boston-based reed player, who spent four years early in his career as a member of the Buddy Rich big band, doubled on flute.
Nate Najar

Guitarist Charlie Byrd first brought Brazil's bossa nova sound to jazz devotee's ears. After visiting Brazil on a 1961 State Department tour, he recorded the classic Jazz Samba album with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz in 1962. America's fascination with the bossa nova began in earnest. Because of it, our ears are open to a greater swath of Brazilian rhythms and textures. The bossa nova (a popular version of the samba) remains its core.

Najar is a huge devotee of Charlie Byrd. Quite appropriately for this matinee concert, he played one of Byrd's acoustic guitars, which he purchased from the guitar master's estate. Delaney, a wide-ranging jazz pianist who has a special feel for Latin, Caribbean and Brazilian music, toured with singer Astrud Gilberto for a time. These were no casual musical credentials.
Delaney, Metz, Bowlby

Most of the afternoon featured the music of composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of the several founders of the bossa nova movement. The material included "Desafinado," (which was on Byrd's Jazz Samba recording, "Wave," "Favela" and "One Note Samba."

Mopsick noted that Brazilian Jazz has moved in scope over the past 60 years to become "an essential part of the jazz canon." And Delaney note that even before the Byrd/Getz classic collaboration, Brazilian music probably was introduced to the world at large when the film "Black Orpheus" made its debut at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival.

Joe Delaney
Luis Bonfa's classic "Theme from Black Orpheus" ("Manhã de Carnaval" or"Morning of Carnival") was a superb feature for Bowlby's sax. The quintet also dug into Sergio Mendes' Brasil 66 hit "Mas Que Nada," a showcase for Metz, as well as arranger-composer Bill Fox's "Brazilville." 

Najar was featured on a guitar-bass-drums version of Jobim's "Favela." Delaney dug deep into the Jobim ballad "Dreamer" before the afternoon's finale. The band saved Brazil's most popular bossa for last.

This version of "The Girl from Ipanema," a hit for Getz and sultry singer Astrud Gilberto, had a twist. Near the end of his solo, Delaney seamlessly dropped in a brief snippet of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely."
Mopsick, Metz, Delaney, Bowlby, Najar

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