Evandro Gracelli had a jam-packed schedule when he visited Ottawa and Montreal for three weeks in late March and early April. What with masterclasses, his own concerts and club gigs, and being invited to sit in at other shows, the Brazilian guitarist was booked or double-booked just about every night.
He brought seven other Brazilian musicians with him, as part of a cultural and musical exchange co-sponsored by the University of São Paulo and Carleton University. Although six returned after the first week, Gracelli and master percussionist Emilio Martins remained.
In the two years he spent in Ottawa, Gracelli developed strong ties in the local jazz community and became an integral part of several local bands. This visit showed the strengths of those ties, as he played in a reunion concert of Sol da Capital with Rachel Beausoleil, with his own Evandro Gracelli and Friends, and in Rimbombante with Dean Pallen, among other gigs.
One of his long-standing musical connections is with local bassist Marc Decho, and, on March 30, Gracelli and Martins played with Decho at the Brookstreet Hotel Options Jazz Lounge in Kanata. With the world curling championships and a Senators hockey game on that evening, some of the audience wasn't immediately looking to be reminded of hot Brazilian jazz, but the trio got a good response – and even some dancers – for their four sets of jazz standards and Latin music.
Martins showed off his skill on pandeiro (a small frame drum rimmed with metal jingles) and the cajón (a wooden-box-like drum) as well as on mini-drumset, adding constantly-shifting and complex rhythms to the music. Gracelli played fast, fluid guitar, with he and Decho collaborating intimately on material that ranged from almost funky (a mash-up of “Billie Jean” and “Cantaloupe Island”) to quiet ballads. Partway through, they were joined by guitarist Léonard Constant and vocalist Regina Gomes Teixeira of the local Brazilian-influenced jazz group Florquestra for swaying versions of “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Summer Samba”.
Near the end of the night, one listener stood up unprompted to say, “A brown-skinned guy from Toronto wants to let you know: these guys are good!”
– Alayne McGregor
Photos from The Marc Decho Trio playing at Brookstreet's Option Jazz Lounge on March 30
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