A Night of Jobim
"Neal Alger's guitar, in particular, is a thing of beauty, incorporating sinewy blues-rock textures a la John Scofield"
-- Clive Davis, The Times, London
Neal Alger - guitar
Curt Bley - bass
Luiz Ewerling - drums
A night of Jobim -
It is beyond argument to state that Antonio Carlos Jobim is the most famous musician in Brazilian popular music and perhaps more importantly, the most significant Brazilian composer of the 20th century. That being said, many musicians know too well that fame doesn't equal quality or depth. Fortunately, Jobim's music contains a wealth of quality and depth as well as many other things that have captivated both listeners and musicians alike for close to 70 years. Though primarily known for putting the 'bossa nova' style squarely on the map of both Brazil and the United States, Jobim's compositions also embraced samba-cancao (a Brazilian bolero), waltz, Northeastern baiao, and classical music.
For this particular evening, Neal Alger's trio will have the not-so-enviable task of capturing the breadth of Jobim's musical vision in just two sets. The listener will be treated to internationally-known gems such as "Chega de Saudade" and "The Girl From Ipanema" while also being exposed to the rarely played choro "Radames y Pele" and the exquisite ballad "Sem Voce", among many others. The intimacy and the high-quality listening environment of Winter's Jazz Club provides the perfect setting to present this gorgeous music from a master composer.
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While known in Chicago as a musician who moves primarily within jazz and rock circles, guitarist Neal Alger has developed a large affinity for Brazilian music and has chosen to research and absorb its various styles as his next large artistic adventure. Over the past 20 years, Alger’s interests have led him to perform in such varied contexts as Neo-Soul/R&B, jazz-rock fusion, Afro-Cuban music, classic rock, movie soundtracks, and studio work for various formats. None of these, however, have captivated him quite as profoundly as the massive tapestry of Brazil’s musical styles and he has formed a new trio to explore the improvisational possibilities that these styles present.
Ever since the late 50’s when American jazzers started to absorb the lush harmonies and intriguing rhythms of ‘bossa nova’, improvised jazz music has had a fruitful relationship and exchange with the South American country. Artists such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ivan Lins, Djavan, Hermeto Pascoal, and Egberto Gismonti have enthusiastically used American jazz musicians on their recordings and/or have embraced the language of jazz to enrich their own compositions. Along with the legendary canon of melodies that jazz players typically drawn from (Tin Pan Alley musicals and modern compositions such as those by Thelonious Monk or Wayne Shorter, for example), Neal has found a new fountain of exquisite yet meaty compositions to play. The primary difference between straight-ahead jazz and Brazilian tunes can be found in the scintillating rhythms which are an African, European, and Indian blend and have their own particular ginga or “swing”.
Alger has chosen two very versatile players to round out his trio: bassist Curt Bley and drummer Luiz Ewerling. Bley’s artistry has enabled him to perform with both shredder guitar wizard Dave Urich and Chicago jazz virtuosos pianist John Campbell and harmonica player Howard Levy, among many others. Most pertinent to the current trio, however, is Curt’s time spent in the 80’s and 90’s with the formidable Chicago/Brazilian ensemble Som Brasil, headed by legendary pianist/vibraphonist Breno Sauer and vocalist Neusa Sauer. Speaking of the legendary Som Brasil band, when drummer Luiz Ewerling was originally asked to become part of that group, he left his native southern Brazil for Chicago and thus began his fruitful journey through the city’s colorful musical scene.
Fusion, jazz, Latin, and blues styles have become part of Luiz’ repertoire over the years and he additionally leads a relatively new project titled AMA which features local luminaries vocalists Ana Munteanu and Luciano Antonio.
With Neal Alger’s Brazilian trio you will be treated to various facets of the massive Brazilian musical universe: Jobim’s well-known bossas, the pop-influenced work of Ivan Lins and Djavan, the rootsy samba of Noel Rosa and Nelson Cavaquinho, the iconoclasm of Hermeto Pascoal, the deceiving simplicity of Caetano Veloso, the Northeastern accordion tunes of Dominguinhos, and the virtuosic chorinhos of saxophonist Pixinguinha. Viva a musica brasileira!!