Portland's classic bossa and Brazilian jazz band

Dom Salvador

March 3, 2020

Dom Salvador and meIt was such a thrill to meet this amazing 81-year-old legend at at Brooklyn’s River Cafe, where he has performed for 40 years. (Especially since we will be featuring his music at our upcoming Classic Pianos “Music of Brazilian Piano Legends” concert.)

Dom Salvador is the composer of beautiful tunes like Gafieira, Para Elis, and Tematrio. He’s been recording since mid-1960’s, and his works range from samba-jazz classics to 70’s fusion. (Recently, there was a great article in The New York Times about him.)

I met the pianist through Laura Dreyer, a saxophonist/flutist/mutual friend. He knew that I was a big fan of the composer Durval Ferreira, so he slyly threw in “E Nada Mais” while we watched him play. Then, he wanted to chat with Laura, so he asked me to sit down and play (I wasn’t nervous at all, NOT).

Afterwards, he played a bunch of choros, Brazilian jazz, and jazz standards with Laura while I listened with rapt attention. He had an entire library of fake books at the side of the piano, everything from Mário Mascarenhas to Jewish songs. “I would go crazy if I weren’t playing something different all the time,” he joked.

New Animated Bossa Nova Film in Production

November 14, 2019

I was really excited to read about the production of “They Shot the Piano Player,” which focuses on the very short life of Brazilian piano genius Tenorio Jr. The pianist was able to release only one album as a leader before he disappeared in Argentina, apparently the victim of mistaken identity.

Tenorio Jr.’s compositions have been featured in arrangements by Joyce Moreno and the wonderful Italian pianist Andrea Pozza, among others.

Brasil Summerfest • New York City

August 3, 2019

This year (2019), Brasil Summerfest takes place from July 21-August 3, and I’ve been trying to fill my ears up with as much music as I can.

First up was the Amaro Freitas Trio at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. (I hadn’t been there in a while, so it was a new thing to go through the metal detector!) Freitas was on piano performing a set of original compositions with bassist Jean Elton and Hugo Medeiros on drums. I was struck by the young pianist’s astonishing energy and endurance; at times, he reminded me of Don Pullen. Freitas maximized the piano’s percussive characteristics; at one point, he pounded on the upper register to imitate agogo bells.

The music was dramatic and sometimes almost maniacal; chords ringing from the piano sounded like a possessed grandfather clock. Two back-to-back slower numbers provided a lyrical respite. I was reminded of another young Brazilian piano virtuoso, Andre Mehmari – while the two pianists differ greatly in style and approach, they both share a penchant for humor, tight trio synchronization, a fondness for through-composed sections, comfort with odd meters, and chops that could easily tackle any Chopin etude.

Freitas has two albums on Far Out Records.

The next day, I attempted to hear Minas- born singer-songwriter Tulipa Ruiz, who was performing with her guitarist brother. Unfortunately, due to an odd policy at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, I wasn’t able to hear very much — the ushers allowed only a couple listeners in at a time. When I was finally allowed to enter the hall, only two rock-influenced songs remained. Fortunately,  the beautiful Ruiz, clad in a metallic silver gown, was a generous and engaging performer. She was creative with her operatic voice, manipulating her vibrato in intriguing ways. At the end of the show, she walked through the audience, singing a wordless, three-note phrase.

On August 2, I went over to the Kitano (I hadn’t been there since they moved the music downstairs) to see the Duduka da Fonseca Quartet with Helio Alves on piano, Peter Washington on bass, and Scott Robinson on reeds (Duduka da Fonseca is one of the best Brazilian jazz drummers; he has an amazing group called Trio da Paz). I was really excited to hear this show especially because of Alves, who is always a real pleasure to hear. He plays with tremendous facility and precision. The quartet performed a set that included Milton Nascimento’s Vera Cruz, Joao Bosco’s Bala Com Bala, Jobim’s Portrait in Black and White, and two compositions by Dom Salvador: Maria (for his wife) and Gafieira. Fonseca also played a beautiful composition that he had written for his grandmother. The quartet played for a good hour and a half without losing energy, interest, or the attention of the audience.

Since the New York Botanical Garden is closed on Mondays. I used my Sunday to travel there to check out the Roberto Burle Marx exhibit, which today included a percussion and capoeira performance by Bronx Capoeira. The exhibit, which is on through September 29, features an outdoor installation including a walkway and fountain, placards imprinted with a selection of Brazilian poetry, various plants native to Brazil, and several paintings and sketches of Marx’s.

I had meant to go over to the River Cafe to hear the legendary 81-year-old pianist Dom Salvador at the River Cafe – he’s still there four nights a week. However, I will have to save this musical delight for a future trip.





Living Legend: João Donato

May 23, 2019

This year (2019), one of Brazil’s greatest pianists and composers is celebrating 85 years of life and an amazing 70-year career. We’ve decided to honor him with a tribute concert on January 11, 2020 (he wrote so much music that it will take us a while to learn it!). In the meantime, we are going to check him out on June 8 in Los Angeles (tickets here).

The Music of Durval Ferreira

March 8, 2019

We are so excited to present a project focusing on the music of the wonderful Rio-born guitarist/composer Durval Ferreira. Although he recorded only one album under his own name, Batida Diferente, he composed for, produced, and recorded with countless artists including Cannonball Adderley, Sarah Vaughan, Leny Andrade, Emilio Santiago, Ed Lincoln, and the Tamba Trio.

Ferreira’s daughter, Amanda Bravo, often performs at the Bottles Bar in Rio. She has just released her own album with several compositions by her father. She’s also featured on Batida Diferente, most notably on a rendition of “Nostalgia da Bossa” – a melancholy tribute to an era gone by.

Our tribute concert, a collaboration with Sounds of Brazil PDX that will feature a variety of musicians, will take place at Classic Pianos on May 4 at 7:30. Tickets are available at this link.

Blog at