ARTS Con­cert fetes Brazil­ian sounds

Tony Mon­tague

The Georgia Straight - - Arts - By

Aquarela do Brasil draws in­spi­ra­tion from the rich­ness and range of the arts in Latin Amer­ica’s largest coun­try, to mark the 60th an­niver­sary of the re­lease of João Gilberto’s bossa nova clas­sic “Chega de Sau­dade”. As the show’s di­rec­tor, Sal Fer­reras, points out, the song be­came a mas­sive in­ter­na­tional hit, one of a se­ries of ma­jor Brazil­ian cul­tural achieve­ments in the late ’50s.

“I was talk­ing back­stage at a gig with [sax­o­phon­ist] Tom Keenly­side about the an­niver­sary, and the re­lease a year later of the movie Black Or­pheus with a sound­track of samba and bossa nova, which took one of the top prizes at Cannes,” he says. “The two events had such a pro­found in­flu­ence on world mu­sic for the rest of time, and I said I’d like to do a show to cel­e­brate the va­ri­ety of Brazil­ian mu­sic. So I talked to [gui­tarist and multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist] Celso Machado, to [bassist] Jodi Proznick, [pi­anist] Miles Black, and Aché Brasil, as well as other col­lab­o­ra­tors that I’d played with, and pro­posed to the Van­cou­ver Latin Amer­i­can Cul­tural Cen­tre that we do some­thing spe­cial for the oc­ca­sion.”

Se­quences from Black Or­pheus will be pro­jected onto a screen at the back of the stage to en­hance the pre­sen­ta­tion of Aquarela do Brasil, which cov­ers a range of mu­si­cal gen­res—not

Aquarela do Brasil.

just bossa nova. “I want to show a cer­tain style of samba, new com­po­si­tions by Celso, and also fea­ture [dance and mar­tial-arts com­pany] Aché Brasil, who are mainly known for capoeira and big-style samba, do­ing two other things. One is a re­gional dance from Re­cife where the Car­naval rhythm is frevo, which is very ath­letic, and done with lit­tle um­brel­las. I also asked them to play and dance an Afro-brazil­ian style called mara­catu which is very pop­u­lar in many re­gions. The other pieces are a com­bi­na­tion of re­ally lyri­cal el­e­ments of ear­lier sam­bas and choros.”

Au­di­ences can also ex­pect some jaw-drop­ping per­cus­sion-play­ing from the ensem­ble, which in­cludes Afro-cuban conga player Is­rael “Toto” Ber­riel, tam­bourine ace Liam Mac­don­ald, Machado, and Fer­reras him­self. “We’ll be a nine-piece in all, plus Aché Brasil, work­ing either as full ensem­ble or as sub­sets, de­pend­ing on the styles,” says Fer­reras. “Some are more in­ti­mate, like bossa nova, a very smooth com­bi­na­tion of samba, choro, and jazz.

“In the ’40s and ’50s there was a fair bit of travel with Amer­i­can and Euro­pean jazz artists go­ing down to Rio, and that club scene be­gan to per­co­late a style in­fus­ing the more tra­di­tional Brazil­ian styles with jazz har­mony. In the other di­rec­tion, jazz was in­fused with the rhyth­mic com­plex­ity and nu­ance of bossa nova, which was the new cool. At the time, Brazil was be­com­ing a world power, and the cen­tre for fan­tas­tic ar­chi­tec­ture with the build­ing of Brasília [the na­tion’s cap­i­tal]. Bossa nova took the great ex­u­ber­ance of Car­naval mu­sic from Rio and re­duced it to very small, in­ti­mate el­e­ments for a hip, so­phis­ti­cated crowd that was a new mid­dle-class. So it has di­men­sions that are not only mu­si­cal, but so­cial as well.”

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