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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Music Reviews
Carnegie Hall
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Autumn Samba - Starring: Gal Costa

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 28, 2003
Carnegie Hall
881 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
(212) 632-0540

About the Author:

Autumn Samba - Starring: Gal Costa

A Tribute To
Antonio Carlos Jobim (Bio)
Stan Getz (Bio)

Special Guests: Morelenbaum 2/Sakamoto
Jaques Morelenbaum, Cello: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Piano
Paula Morelenbaum, Vocals
Cesar Camargo Mariano, Piano
Romero Lubambo, Guitar
Tom Scott, Saxophone
Jaques Morelenbaum, Cello

Surprise Guests: Michael Feinstein and John Pizzarelli

Helio Alves, Piano and Music Director
Sergio Brandao, Bass
Adriano Santos, Drums
David Silliman, Percussion

At Carnegie Hall

Produced by Stratta/Philips Productions
Ettore Stratta and Pat Philips

Presented by The Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival; The Consulate General of Brazil in NY; Jolly Madison Tower Hotel; The Wellington Hotel; WBGO Jazz 88.3 fm.

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 28, 2003

(See Reviews of Stratta/Philips Productions and Ettore Stratta's Birthday Event).

Antonio Carlos Jobim was a gifted Brazilian Composer. He created Bossa Nova Standards, such as The Girl from Ipanema, Out of Tune, and Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars. In 1958 Joao Gilberto, a singer guitarist, simplified the Samba rhythms and modernized the sound. Saxophonist Stan Getz fell in love with this sound, becoming a Jazz/Samba Superstar. Gal Costa is a world-renowned Brazilian singer, a favorite of Jobim. Ms. Costa has been recording Brazilian music for 30 years, including her latest CD, Gal Bossa Tropica. (Stratta/Philips Notes).

Gal Costa (See Ettore Stratta's Birthday Event) received a standing ovation tonight, on arrival, as this concert had been postponed for several months, due to her illness. Ms. Costa has a remarkable stage presence, and, in a lovely, long red dress, she immediately assumed the grandeur that Carnegie Hall can evoke onto its performers. Ms. Costa arrived after her backup musicians, and, in typical Stratta/Philips fashion, Ms. Philips had warmly greeted the audience, as, one by one, the musicians entered the stage and began playing their respective music, swelling to a crescendo of dynamic rhythm and sound. Ms. Costa's first piece included scat singing against Dave Silliman's seductive congas and percussive swishes. Ms. Costa's Portuguese/English comments were well received by her fans.

Helio Alves, in a long piano solo, initiated a Jazz/Samba fusion that brought this music to a contemporary motif. Ms. Costa's renditions of Jobim's ballads and additional American and Brazilian standards were delivered with pathos and passion. She even danced a bit, as the musicians picked up the themes, and she was clearly a mesmerizing figure with a mellifluous voice. Tom Scott's saxophone brought the Stan Getz memories to mind. Here's That Rainy Day was smooth and romantic. The delicious Bossa Novas that followed, with Ms. Costa and Mr. Scott alternating leads, were honey on chocolate.

Jaques Morelenbaum, on cello, Ryuichi Sakamoto on piano, and Paula Morelenbaum on vocals followed, with an entirely new feeling and feathery lightness of rhythms. Mr. Sakamoto, in a long, leather coat, was a striking figure at the keyboard, as he generated a fusion of Samba/New Age, continued by Mr. Morelenbaum on heart-rending cello and Ms. Morelenbaum, with a sexy, dramatic style. Ms. Morelenbaums's Bossa Novas and Ballads, part English, mostly Portuguese, were sung in a deep whisper, the silence in the Hall reverberating as deeply as did the music itself.

Mr. Morelenbaum alternated playing his cello with hands and bow, treating it as guitar or bass. Love Is the Saddest Thing When It Goes Away was mournful and momentous. Jazz cello is rare, and Mr. Morelenbaum is a master at enhancing the drama and poignancy of Ms. Morelenbaum's vocalizations. Mr. Sakamoto's piano/cello duet with Mr. Morelenbaum was slow and evocative. Ms. Morelenbaum's presence, with porcelain skin, and a black/lavender textured dress, was powerful, as she switched key's mid-melody.

A Piano-Guitar duet, played by Cesar Camargo Mariano and Romero Lubambo (See Ettore Stratta's Birthday Event), was both volcanic and voluptuous, as a dancing (See Carlos Porto Samba Lessons at You Should Be Dancing Studio and more Porto Samba) piano and swiveling guitar fused into a musical partnership, like two dance partners in a crowded Club. The fusion of Jazz/Samba continued as this sultry, but fiery duo heated the Hall with the surprise, but brief, first entrance of John Pizzarelli (See Pizzarelli Birdland Review) on second guitar. Mr. Pizzarelli sang in Portuguese, in a new, more sophisticated performance, and he was marvelous in this role. His next, more playful song followed in scat.

What ensued was a variety of combinations of performers, such as Gal Costa, Mr. Camargo Mariano, Mr. Silliman, and Mr. Lubambo. I Fall In Love Too Easily was softly percussive and mostly melancholy. Mr. Brandao, on bass guitar, and Mr. Scott re-entered and joined forces with the above musicians for a fuller orchestral effect. Ms. Costa then resumed the lead with her original band in familiar Bossa Novas and Sambas, with Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars receiving an enormous and early ovation.

To the delight of this already warmed up audience, Michael Feinstein appeared as a second surprise, mid-song, and appeared to be a wonderful vocal partner for Gal Costa. A "lesser known" Gershwin, Shall We Dance, with Mr. Alves on synthesizer, was rousing and romantic in rhythm and refrain, "…. Dance whenever you can". The Girl from Ipanema was an audience favorite. Tony Scott re-entered, without missing a beat, and again switched leads with Ms. Costa's vocalizations, for a soaring and sensational sound. With Michael Feinstein at her side, on a second mike, Ms. Costa seemed even more relaxed and seductive.

Finally, all musicians, vocalists, and stars were back onstage for a fused finale of Jazz/Samba/Bossa Nova/New Age sounds. Ettore Stratta, a rare presence onstage at his Jazz events, was an informal orchestral leader, allowing each performer a featured passage in this exciting Brazilian blaze, like the last of the fireworks, with magical color and enormous entertainment. Kudos to Stratta and Philips for another brilliant production. I look forward to their Django Reinhardt Festival at Birdland, November 18 - 23, 2003.

Gal Costa, Michael Feinstein, John Pizzarelli, Performers, and Musicians at Carnegie Hall

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