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Brazil Takes Center Stage at the Healdsburg Jazzfest!!

Oscar Castro-Neves
Tag(s): Live event and Show host blog
Claudia Villela

"Bossa Nova on the Green" was fantastic!!

This Sunday June 6th concert was held in a downtown Healdsburg Park and the crowd was treated to some of the finest Brazilian musicians as part of the opening weekend of the 12th Annual Jazz Festival.

"Brasilia" featured Pamela Driggs (vocals) and Romero Lubambo (guitar) and took the lead in setting the mood for an afternoon of excellent performers.

They were followed by Claudia Villela's glorious voice that can scat with the best of them --- including remarkable evocations of tabla and then trumpet. She is a fine composer/lyricist and featured many tunes from her 2003 award winning album "Inverse Universe" and new compositions. Her band included the Rio-born master guitar player Ricardo Peixoto.

Next came Leny Andrade --- "the Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald of Brazilian music" according to the New York Times --- who took us through the full arc of Bossa Nova compositions and other Latin classics.

The finale was left to the legendary Oscar Castro-Neves, the famed guitarist and composer who performed alongside Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto during the genesis of Bossa Nova. Returning to its roots, he played tune after tune as he celebrated the last 50 years of this remarkable genre. Joined by American Gary Meeks (fine sax, keyboard, and clarinetist), Sri Lankan electric bassist Hussain Jiffry and Puerto Rican drummer Walter Rodriguez (who were allowed generous solos) --- Castro-Neves was superlative in his playing and arrangements of Bossa Nova classics.

Whew!! What a great ending to the first weekend, with Charlie Haden, Geri Allen, and Ravi Coltrane...and Esperanza Spalding later this week.

Still to come, the Jelly Roll plans to attend Tuesday's performance by the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco in the Healdsburg's town square and the closing performance on June 13th entitled "Keepers of the Flame" with Jason Moran, Bill Frisell, Gretchen Parlato, Taylor Eigsti, Dafnis Prieto and Peter Apfelbaum and others.

For a little town amidst the redwoods, vineyards and wine, Healdsburg does know how to bring in some truly special talent. So far my "cup runneth over".

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