By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The fourth edition of the BMW Jazz Festival begins this week and will bring the best of the international jazz scene to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. Performers will include: vocalist Bobby McFerrin, double bassist Dave Holland with his quartet Prism, trumpeter Chris Botti, pianist Ahmad Jamal, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, and jazz fusion band, Snarky Puppy.
“The BMW Jazz Festival is now recognized as one of the main events on the national calendar, which is a great joy for us,” Herlander Zola, director of marketing for BMW of Brazil stated in a press release. She then added, “In this fourth edition, once again we managed to gather a select and diverse group of artists that are sure to please enthusiasts of the genre.”
The festival begins in São Paulo on May 29th and will run through May 31st with an additional free performance on June 1st by Bobby McFerrin. In Rio, Flamengo’s Vivo Rio will host the festival May 30th through June 1st. Finally, Bobby McFerrin will make a special appearance in Belo Horizonte to close out the festival on June 3rd.
McFerrin, a ten-time Grammy Award-winner, will also kick off the festival in Rio on Friday, May 30th. Best known for his 1988 hit song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, McFerrin is an accomplished American vocalist and joins the festival in support of his latest release entitled, Spirityouall. The album is a tribute to his late father, operatic baritone Robert McFerrin.
Bobby McFerrin has released numerous studio albums and has appeared as a guest artist on multiple others. He is highly praised for his vocal techniques which include the creation of polyphonic effects, where McFerrin vocalizes the main melodies of songs, while simultaneously vocalizing additional song elements.
“Bobby McFerrin’s performance is more than a voice,” Bruno Pongelupe, a music producer originally from Brasília, told the Rio Times. He saw McFerrin live in a show two years ago at the Theatro Municipal in Rio and added, “It’s his presence with the audience; you sing with him, laugh with him and are happy at the end.”
On Saturday, May 31st, British double bassist Dave Holland, known for the 1973 landmark album, Conference of the Birds, will lead his new jazz fusion quartet, Prism, as they play during the second night of the festival in Rio.
Prism consists of Holland, keyboardist Craig Taborn, drummer Eric Harland, and guitarist Kevin Eubanks, former leader of the house band in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Together, the four craft a smooth blend of electric and melodic jazz interspersed with funky grooves and bluesy riffs.
Grammy Award-winning Chris Botti will also perform during the second night. With his unique style of jazz that ranges from the soft and intimate to the thundering and expansive, the American trumpeter has recorded and performed with well known artists including Andrea Bocelli, Joni Mitchell and Josh Groban.
For the final night in Rio, Grammy Awarding-winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett will perform with his quintet a selected works, including tracks from his most recent album entitled, Pushing the World Away. Brooklyn-based jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy will also play. Led by bassist Michael League, the group is considered an innovative force in contemporary instrumental music.
Also performing will be the American musician, Ahmad Jamal, former pianist for jazz legend Miles Davis. The 83 year old Jamal will be joined by his quartet to play works from his most recent album, Saturday Morning , as well as reinterpreting works of Duke Ellington and Horace Silver.
For lovers of jazz and music in general, attending the BMW Jazz Festival in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Belo Horizonte this weekend should be a great opportunity to see international performers of the genre in Brazil.
What: BMW Jazz Festival Rio
When: Friday, May 30th- Sunday, June 1st. Shows begin at 9PM on Friday and Saturday and at 8PM on Sunday.
Where: Vivo Rio, Av. Infante Dom Henrique, 85, Parque do Flamengo, RJ