Latin-jazz is interesting territory to muse upon. A sub-genre, a meeting of styles, or just those toe-tapping numbers in an otherwise swing set? It’s of course Latin America – but from where? A song I heard performed last month was entitled Tequila Samba. Surely a mojito would be the accompanying cocktail of choice? The most familiar Latin labels within jazz may well be samba and salsa, but these are not to be confused. The salsa fusion of rhythms from 1970s New York drew on the Cuban mambo that in jazz inspired George Shearing’s Mambo Inn and late-era Art Pepper’s Mambo Koyama. But I’ll focus here on the other, Brazilian, music, as samba tunes have provided many fine standards for jazz musicians to explore.
Vocalist Georgia Mancio has been taking her Salud! Tom Jobim tribute on the road across East Anglia and beyond. The debonair Brazilian songwriter of classics from Chega de Saudade to Garota de Ipanema blended, as the Hoste Arms in Burnham Market introduces Mancio’s show this month, the ‘eloquence’ of French modern composers with Brazil’s samba heritage.
The girl on a Rio beach passing Jobim’s young gaze inspired his international hit for Bossa Nova, which in Brazil was merely a ‘new’ trend or wave or – like the Beatles – a ‘60s new thing. Bossa in jazz, popularised by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, gives only a peek into the world of samba; its greater rhythmical depth is found perhaps in other familiar standards in jazz (familiar if not in name) such as Jobim’s Agua de Beber and Triste or Bonfá’s Samba de Orfeu (from the 1959 film Black Orpheus).
I’ve not heard them, but I hope the interesting group by the name Amarea will expose its audiences in both Norwich (Anteros Arts) and Halesworth (The Cut) this month to the diversity of Brazil, as well as of Venezuela, Cuba and Africa. Amarea – ‘heavily influenced by the work of Jobim, Barroso, Louis Bonfa and Marisa Monte’ – are led by Catalonian Daida Carbonell, singing in Spanish and English, and comprise a Chilean guitarist, Peruvian conga player, and last but not least a saxophonist from Suffolk.