Airto Moreira's Afro-Samba Anthems Raise Roof At Ronnie's

 Airto IMG by-Carl-Hyde

No greater sign of changing times comes than in this declaration: "The last time we were here I couldn't see the audience through the smoke. After the gig I'd hang my clothes out of the hotel window!" So quips vocalist Diana Purim to a wry smile from her father, bandleader, and Brazilian percussion legend Airto Moreira. The heyday of his annual residencies at the club does indeed reach back to the avant-smoking ban era, when the word Brexit had yet to enter the toxic haze of national discourse.

The lengthy hiatus between those early Millennial appearances of Airto's much-loved band, Fourth World, and now also shows physically. The 76-year-old is a more frail figure, moving gingerly to the stage with a slight stoop and speaking with a softer voice as he settles down at his station, a large table on which are stacked woodblocks, cowbells, shakers and whistles, with a couple of tom-toms and cymbals flanking him for good measure. The other members of the sextet, of which guitarist Jose Neto, is easily recognisable with his white axe and black bandana, quickly take up position.

They all look to Airto for the green light. Instantly, he takes command, punctuating the beat of 'Alué', the title-track of his first album recorded in Brazil for five decades with the kind of pinball sharp drum-patterns that convey the irresistible dance at the heart of Afro-samba, which is the soul of his music. Airto brought this vocabulary to the prime movers of American jazz, from Miles Davis to George Duke and Chick Corea, to whose group Return to Forever he made a vital contribution, alongside his wife Flora Purim. His graduation to a recording artist in his own right was cemented throughout the 1970s by albums such as Free, Fingers and Touching You...Touching Me. In other words, Airto has a vast repertoire on which to draw, and the songs in the first part of the set, particularly the gorgeous 'Misturada', stand up as real anthems insofar as they have a melodic richness to match the rhythmic intricacy associated with Latin music. Airto is playing a little less vigorously than in times passed, but that simply brings to attention the idiosyncrasy of his voice, a nasal, grainy timbre which he uses powerfully in wah-wah phrases and scat lines, to strengthen the percussive drive of the arrangements, and also heats to an impassioned scream that blends effectively with the higher pitches of saxophonist-flautist Vitor Alcantara.

Airto-band-Carl-Hyde

Drummer Carlos Ezequiel, bassist Sizao Machado and pianist-keyboardist Fabio Leandro form a nucleus that is strong and steady as the solos start to unfurl, particularly Neto's, which climaxes in hyperventilating, treble-time growls. Yet Airto's showpiece moment, where he stands alone on stage with just his pandheiro (tambourine) is still a roof-raiser. With brilliant dexterity he brings out bass and treble in the little instrument to evoke an earth tremor batucada, while his vocal chants are those of a man who understands that the carnival culture he embodies is one of liberation as well as exaltation. Fittingly, the set ends with the pulsating 'Tombo In 7/4', the celebration suite that made 1990s house music producers expose Moreira to worldwide audiences by way of the sample. The ecstatic reaction of the faithful here is a reminder that he is still an essential bridge between Africa, Europe and Brazil.

Kevin Le Gendre
Photos by Carl Hyde

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension …

  Kicking off this evening’s set with a high-octane crash through...

Read More.....

Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano and Lu…

This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, its 27th edition, runs...

Read More.....

Stanley Clarke Captivates With Crowd-Sur…

As Return to Forever bass legend Stanley Clarke (pictured above) opened...

Read More.....

Bro, Seim and Gustafsson amid the Scandi…

  As a snapshot of the great charm of Vossa Jazz's...

Read More.....

Laura Mvula, Melt Yourself Down and Alin…

  Love Supreme continue to expand the brand by bringing an...

Read More.....

Empirical get set for Distraction Tactic…

Multi-award winning London four-piece Empirical release the second part of...

Read More.....

Thrice is the charm for APA Cole Porter …

Say what you like about America (and I frequently do)...

Read More.....

Blue Note President Don Was To Receive P…

Don Was, the President of the iconic Blue Note Records...

Read More.....

Brad Mehldau finds Gabriel on Biblical n…

Revered US pianist Brad Mehldau is set to release his...

Read More.....

Tommy Smith and the SNJO dazzle with a m…

The world premiere of Norse Myths took place at Aberdeen...

Read More.....

David Sinclair 1935 – 2019

David Sinclair, one of the most insightful and affectionately-regarded photographers...

Read More.....

Kinch and Siegel lead the collective sto…

Ousted from its Colston Hall home by the builders, the...

Read More.....

Mark Nightingale's Big Band Go Large At …

  Trombonist Mark Nightingale is the most accommodating of virtuosi. He’ll...

Read More.....

Open letter leads protest at cuts to Rad…

Over 500 leading musicians from across the jazz, folk and...

Read More.....

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival director’s ‘…

The Irish jazz world has been shaken by the sudden...

Read More.....

George Coleman, Jimmy Owens and Frank Lo…

The Annual SAM Benefit concert will be held on 13 April...

Read More.....

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Makaya McCraven …

The first names have been unveiled for this year’s EFG...

Read More.....

Turville's Quintet Dare To Dream At Brig…

This is the last show in the tour and there’s...

Read More.....

Durrant At The Double With Duo Of Improv…

Phil Durrant and Martin Vishnick (pictured) launch, Rifinitori di Momenti, their forthcoming...

Read More.....

GoGo Penguin, SEED Ensemble and Marquis …

The wider jazz programme for this year’s Love Supreme Jazz...

Read More.....

Branford Marsalis Quartet Muster Technic…

  Bookended by a short opening solo piano set from Nikki...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy announce Royal Albert Hall …

Grammy-winning powerhouse group Snarky Puppy are gearing up for a...

Read More.....

Waithe On Song At Huntley Conference

  Along with Allison & Busby and New Beacon, Bogle L’Ouverture...

Read More.....

Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Fes…

The inaugural Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Festival – a...

Read More.....

Saxophonist Seamus Blake launches new al…

Acclaimed saxophonist Seamus Blake releases his new album, Guardians of...

Read More.....

Taborn's Finessed Tapestry Of Textures F…

  The large number of musicians at this sold-out show says...

Read More.....

Abdullah Ibrahim, Gregory Porter, Yazz A…

The full line-up has been announced for Cheltenham Jazz Festival...

Read More.....

Irreversible Entanglements + Matana Robe…

  Matana Roberts (above) is so relaxed tonight her short opening set...

Read More.....

Jazz FM Awards nominations celebrate gia…

The names for the 2019 Jazz FM Awards were revealed...

Read More.....

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra premiere ‘Badge…

The London-based 17-piece Patchwork Jazz Orchestra are set to release...

Read More.....

NJYO, JCM, friends and family pay tribut…

As Jon Hiseman would say: “If you are going to...

Read More.....

Sons of Kemet, Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia …

The programme has been announced the inaugural We Out Here...

Read More.....

NCO hit bullseye with CTI at Ronnie Scot…

Tomorrow’s Warriors’ role as a springboard for emerging talent in...

Read More.....

Countdown To Ecstasy: Royal Academy Big …

  There are some people, who I've never understood, who smirk...

Read More.....

Melt Yourself Down, Laura Mvula and Kama…

The second edition of Love Supreme at the Roundhouse takes...

Read More.....

Michel Legrand 24/02/1932 – 26/01/2019

The prolific French film composer and pianist Michel Legrand was...

Read More.....

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension Get Kinetic At Barbican Hall (Photo by Tatiana Gorilovsky)… https://t.co/mxDTxUGs2O
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Get down to Hundred Years Gallery on Saturday 15 June for the 10th edition of Mercury Over Maps, ft Steph Horak, Pa… https://t.co/Wm0skrVpmj
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA