By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The undisputed capital of samba, and a cosmopolitan city that offers almost every cultural product of the world, Rio de Janeiro may not seem like a hot spot when it comes to jazz. Yet at the rate that it has been attracting talent from all over the world for Rio’s month-long jazz festival, the Cidade Maravilhosa is a taking a major step in this direction.
This year’sFestival de Jazz do Rio de Janeiro (Rio Jazz Festival), which started on January 5th and will be running with regular performances until January 30th, is only the second of its kind in the state of Rio. The other, which has been held in the small town of Rio das Ostras in northern Rio state for the past eight years, is the Rio das Ostras Jazz & Blues Festival.
While the charm of free shows by jazz and blues artists in various scenic settings in Rio das Ostras may be irresistible, the necessity of having a well-organized jazz festival in the heart of Rio de Janiero, where many talented and innovative musicians call home, is also undeniable.
The 2nd Rio Jazz Festival brings together local and international musicians, playing a wide array of different forms of the genre, from the classics to contemporary styles, and reinterpretations of American jazz with Brazilian rhythms.
In its first week the festival already witnessed some world-class shows, including the French bebop saxophonist Idriss Boudrioua Quartet, and the New Yorker musician Scott Feiner, the pioneer of pandeiro jazz, whose performance at the festival was also the release of his third CD, Accents.
“Jazz is a very under-appreciated music form in Rio de Janeiro,” says Feiner, who has been living in Rio for ten years. “There are some venues that feature it more than others, and for the most part those places wind up closing. Occasionally there will be a festival or series, but it’s rare that it is a month long like this one, so the producers of this event should be proud.”
While the lack of venues and opportunities for jazz musicians to perform in Rio may be disheartening, the emergence of talented players, as well as a few ‘groups’ with a certain originality in their work leaves him optimistic.
“[They are] dedicated to playing their own compositions and trying to do something personal – with a distinctive ‘Brazilian-ness’ to it, while also incorporating influences from American and European jazz,” says Feiner, who counts Eduardo Neves and André Vasconcelos among the highlights of the upcoming shows.
The festival performances are held five days a week, from Wednesdays to Sundays, at 8PM in Sala Municipal Baden Powell, in Copacabana.
The schedule for the upcoming performances are as follows:
Wednesday, January 12th – Marcel Powell Trio
Thursday, January 13th – Orquestra de Bolso + Gravíssimo Bass Ensemble
Friday, January 14th – Jean Pierre Zanella
Saturday, January 15th – Eduardo Neves
Sunday, January 16th – Ana Azevedo
Wednesday, January 19th – Augusto Mattoso
Thursday, January 20th – Quinteto Nuclear
Friday, January 21st – Baixada Jazz Big Band
Saturday, January 22nd – Estações Porteñas
Sunday, January 23rd – Zé Luis Maia
Wednesday, January 26th – André Vasconcelos
Thursday, January 27th – Thiago Ferté
Friday, January 28th – Mike Ryan – Quinteto TribOz
Saturday, January 29th – Jefferson Gonçalves
Sunday, January 30th – Tutti e Convidados
Sala Municipal Baden Powell
Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, 360
Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro