Bruce Henri and Jazz in Jardim Botânico

By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Since December 2012, renowned jazz bassist Bruce Henri has supported the live jazz music scene in the city of Rio by bringing together musicians in Jardim Botânico’s Espaço Tom Jobim for five performances a month known as Música no Tom.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Quintetom Playing At Música no Tom during one of the five events that Henri has promoted there monthly, photo courtesy of Música no Tom.

Despite popular events in Rio like the 2013 BMW Jazz Festival last weekend, and the new Jazz Ahead events, Bruce Henri feels that in terms of the music, the Jazz scene in Rio has room to grow.

“First of all there are no venues to speak of for us to test the market.” He explained, “Just one venue with a piano is dedicated to jazz in all of Rio de Janeiro (TribOz in Lapa). I’m trying to make a scratch on that deficit by promoting five concerts a month at the Espaço Tom Jobim.”

So far this month the space has hosted saxophonist and flutist Dani Spielmann & guitarist Marcello Gonçalves on the 3rd and guitarist Victor Biglione on the 11th. Henri also plays monthly with his group, Quintetom and in June they will play on Wednesday the 12th.

A bassist and singer-songwriter, Henri was born in the United States and came to Rio as an adolescent. He completed his schooling here and then lived for a time in London and San Francisco. He told The Rio Times that he returned after he, “just decided that Rio is the best option as far as quality of life.”

Here he found fame working with an impressive list of national and international musicians that include Aloisio de Oliveira, Tom Jobim, Herbie Hancock, Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and many others. When asked how it felt when performing Henri said, “When the jazz is good I go to another level, an altogether different high.”

Rio de Janiero, Brazi News

Jazz bassist Bruce Henri, photo courtesy Música no Tom.

When not playing Henri also works with Jungle Jazz Produções Artísticas representing Rio musicians, distributing CDs and producing and promoting events.

The Rio Times named Henri one of Rio’s 10 Most Interesting Gringos in 2011 for his work organizing musicians for that year’s Rock in Rio Rock Street Stage. Performers for that event featured local expatriate musicians of varying genres that Henri had met while playing at numerous events around town.

When it comes to his own genre of choice, Henri says, “Jazz is somewhat ambiguous in Brazil. [...] It’s not really taken seriously by the general public and much less by the powers in charge of education. It is rather seen as chic, fun and socially acceptable for the upper middle class.”

“Of course the term ‘Jazz’ itself is somewhat ambiguous and embraces many different sub classifications so that even the genuine ‘aficionados’ are very divided in a market which doesn’t really allow for much division due to the reduced size of the public.”

Doing his part to raise the profile of Jazz music in Rio, the shows will continue at Espaço Tom Jobim in June with guitarist Luiz Brasil on the 26th and Duo Santoro on the 27th. July will feature the musicians Jeff Gardner, Luiz Paulo Simas, Victor Biglione, Taryn Szpilman, and Henri will return with Quintetom on the 4th.

Henri said that when booking other musicians for Música no Tom he looks for; “The capacity to relax and improvise, to have something to say and be able to transmit that message to whoever is there to listen.”

The price for listening is R$20 (full), R$10 (half price) and because Henri and Música no Tom, “support alternative transport to reduce traffic and pollution,” those who arrive at the shows via bike receive a fifty percent discount.

What: Música no Tom
Where: Espaço Tom Jobim – Jardim Botânico 1008
When: All shows begin at 7PM