Between November 12th and 15th, I had the immense pleasure of following the concerts of the 17th Rio das Oysters Jazz and Blues Festival, with an incredible lineup, the biggest free jazz event in Latin America. I talked to almost all the artists and the feeling that defined this edition was emotion. Many of the bands were in their first performance with the public, post pandemic and the longing to feel the warmth and vibration of the audience was something present in every conversation I had.
The festival was opened by the legendary Azymuth with the participation of the DJ Nuts. The trio spoke with this column in a delicious chat, where they told me about the beginning of their career when the band was still called Selection and played with several artists like Marcos Valle, between others. Active since 1973 and initially formed by Ivan Conti (Papaya) for battery, Alex Malheiros (down) and Jose Roberto Bertrami (keyboards), after the death of Bertrami some musicians have gone through the band and since 2015. Who commands the keyboards is Kiko Continentino
Mamao reports that “with Bertrami’s departure, we had the great satisfaction of having Kiko, a great musician who got the hang of the wave and already got into the mood, he added a lot”
Precursors in the mix of styles, soul, jazz, funk, samba and even electronics (Bertrami was already working with synthesizers in the late 1960s and electronic drums, which were already explored by Ivan Conti, for example), they innovated by merging what was in the world vanguard with the roots of Brazilian music when the jazz fusion style was just beginning to be recognized. “We were pioneers not only in Brazil, in the world, right, the guys abroad were also starting to experiment… experiences with many instruments”.
During the pandemic two discs were released, one of the series Jazz is Dead (2020), conceived by the producers Adrian Younge e Ali Shaheed, and the collection Demos (1973-1975) with several unpublished recordings rescued from the 1970s.
“The wheel did not stop turning, it got a bit stuck, but it turned” – they say – “music is still a path, there is no way to be silent, it is expansive, it goes looking for all the cracks, even with the iron curtain that was placed it will come up somehow”
DJ Nuts, with a long road in DJing and cult of Brazilian music, whom the trio referred to as “of the family”, told how he felt with this partnership: “this is a show that I would love to see another dj play with them , I would only criticize (laughs), so my judgment on that is extreme, being on stage with these guys is not to get in the way, my intervention is to not interfere but to have a conversation, how could I do something stupid with Malheiros do my side for example?
Azymuth has recently released two albums, one from the Jazz is Dead series (2020), the result of a meeting with the creators and producers Andre Younge and Ali Al Shaheed and the compilation “Demos”, with the majority of unpublished recordings, rescued from the 1970s.
This whole impact was just the opening of this incredible festival. Azymuth, watched by a huge audience and a packed backstage, preceded the delicious North American show Keith Dunn, accompanied by the band The Simi Brothers. The harmonica player who started playing at the age of 9 and has in “Alone With The Blues” the mark of the first album in blues history to be recorded with the harmonica player playing and singing alone, without overdubs or guest musicians. Keith Dunn’s music is melodic with roots in the blues tradition, between improvisations and touching harmonica solos, the artist offered the audience, in his two performances, an authentic blues experience.
The second day of the event was attended by Nico Rezende interpreting songs from Chet Baker; Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, with its vintage-style soul jazz, which made the audience dance a lot; the british Jon Cleary, has in his piano the soul of New Orleans, city adopted by the heart by Cleary, with jazz, combined with rythm & blues, blues and Latin rhythms, made a contagious show, the versatile bassist Cornell Williams was an attraction apart in this beautiful show.
Sunday, the third day of the festival, it was time for Hamilton from Holland with the luxurious company of Chris Potter, to present an absolutely moving show, between Hamilton’s own compositions and performances, I was particularly moved by the performance of Chega de Saudade, music composed by Vinicius de Moraes e Tom Jobim and recorded for the first time by Elizabeth Cardoso, in 1959, was sung in chorus by the sea of people who filled the Festival’s lawn and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.
Then it was the turn of the sympathetic Roosevelt Collier, the North American guitarist impacted the audience with the sound coming out of his pedal steel that mixes gospel, blues, rock and funk, the participation of Eric Gales it was the height of the presentation.
To close the night at Black Rio, of whom I’m a big fan, put on an absolutely delicious show interpreting the band’s classics, the sound made everyone dance; especially backstage, we had an unforgettable party, production, musicians me and Bruna Guedes, my co-worker here at Music Non Stop, who became a great friend accompanying me on this wonderful trip, we fell into the swing of the traditional big band in Rio, it was memorable.
Eric Gales was the great showman of the festival, with two presentations he took the audience to a frenzy in both, with super interactive shows. On Saturday night, the 13th, halfway through the show, the North American came down from the stage and played in the middle of the crowd full of people; at the end of the festival, on a sunny Monday afternoon, 15 asked the production to open the gates of the Stage at Lagoa do Iriry, so that all the audience outside could enter, opened the show with the traditional notes of the capoeira, the same base used by Gilberto Gil in the introduction of Parabolicamará, already leaving everyone euphoric. Considered one of the best guitarists today, extremely charismatic, Wales played shows of impressive energy, his wife LaDonna Gales is the band’s percussionist and we were all in love with this couple.
The whole Festival had an impeccable production, it was dynamic and a wonderful mood, to see a whole city breathing music, experiencing this event, it was something very magical, several local bands also performed and were very pleased, I applaud this very important initiative, of support. to independent bands, who suffer from lack of space.
This Saturday, 20.11, starts the Niterói Jazz and Blues Festival, with presentations of Roosevel Collier, Azymuth & DJ Nuts, Keith Dunn & The Simi Brothers, Hamilton de Holanda & Chris Potter, among others, admission is free. THE Black Rio performs album release concerts in tribute to the master of Brazilian soul Gerson King Combo, with the participation of Carlos Dafe on Saturday, 20.11, at Concha Acústica de Niterói and on 21.11 at the Pavilion of Conventions in Anhembi. Black music lovers can still enjoy the concert of Black Up, which has among its members some dissidents from Black Rio, in Praça do Patriarca, RJ.
The year started without really knowing the direction things would take, fortunately, with vaccination advancing more and more, we can once again enjoy these pleasant moments that the music gives us, in unison, all the artists I talked to spoke about the emotion of returning to the stages, and to foreigners, of the love they felt for Brazil, for the Brazilian public and for their extremely warm reception. Sensations that will remain forever in the memory of those who attended this edition of the Rio das Ostras Jazz and Blues Festival. Unforgettable.
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