Sunday, April 2, 2017

Guitar mastery on full display for jazz fans

Diego Figueiredo's Brazilian guitar artistry will make your jaw drop. His nylon-stringed acoustic guitar is merely the vessel for astonishing sounds that come out of his musical psyche, delivered by unusual blends of technique.

Diego Figueiredo

Such was the case at Saturday, April 1's sold-out show at the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center in Sarasota FL. As you absorb the exotic sound, you also notice the fingers themselves. All five nails on his right hand are substantially longer than those on his left, acting as guitar picks. He treats them with great care, carrying his own large, multi-colored, multi-textured four-sided emery board nail file.

Figueiredo (pronounced fig-a-ray-doe), 36, performed a range of original ("Lele" and a fado inspired from a trip to Portugal) and classic Brazilian bossa nova and samba material, a bit of classical music, and some exotic-sounding straight-ahead jazz. He performed most of the first set solo. For its last two tunes, he was joined by bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman from his second set collaborators, St. Petersburg-based O Som Do Jazz.
Figueiredo, Arenas, Feinman

His technique blends tremolo and arpeggio with dazzling speed, dexterity and musicality. At times, his right thumb was playing the dark rhythm while his other fingers simultaneously explored the melody.  

The samba band knew going in that solo Diego is a tough act to follow, even with him in the mix.

There were two clear evening highlights: 
  • Figueiredo's extended solo version of the Paul Desmond-written Dave Brubeck hit "Take Five," which seamlessly wandered into Brubeck's "Blue Rondo A La Turk" before returning to the "Take Five" melody. 
  • When Arenas and Feinman joined Diego, the trio played Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Corcovado" and the traditional Brazilian choro "Tico-Tico no Fubá," which was a rousing set closer.

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