The music of Brazil--from the street sambas and bossa nova heard in the 1958 film Black Orpheus on up through the tropicalismo style of the 60s and 70s and the samba-reggaes and other assorted hybrids of recent years--has always captivated a certain percentage of U.S. listeners. But from a continent away, we Brazil nuts get an unrealistically clarified picture of that nation's music history, as if each movement simply supplanted the previous one and the nation's taste suddenly shifted gears. It's easy to forget that all the styles mentioned above currently coexist (in much the way that bebop, free jazz, and jazz-pop rub shoulders at clubs around Chicago)--a fact that comes to mind when keyboardist Manfredo Fest comes to town. A native of Porto Alegre who lived in Chicago in the 70s, Fest employs elements from a wide variety of Brazilian idioms, and this open-ended approach to his country's hothouse creativity helped make his last album--Oferenda, on Concord--an effective stylistic travelogue. Holding it together was the fact that Fest is first and foremost a jazz musician. As such, he not only uses his spiky, at times brittle keyboard style to improvise on each song; he also leans on his American jazz experience to concoct a strongly flavored variation on the insistent rhythms and bittersweet melodies that unite the Brazilian song tradition. Fest appears with Chizil (Chicago-Brazil) in a weekend dedicated to the nation that last Monday wrecked stateside soccer hopes. Friday, 9 PM, and Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David Ewart.