Archives for posts with tag: Bourbon Street music club

The music venue Tom Jazz is a well-known intimate jazz venue in Consolação, Sao Paulo, also catering for the up-market crowd for private parties and serving as a platform for the launch of new projects. Last night gamine Italian Brasilian chanteuse Mafalda Minnozzi was there for the second night of a two-date launch of her new CD.

Launching her new CD Spritz

She is not merely a singer but a very engaging performer with a strong stage persona, and an amusing line in monologues about the attractions of Rome and of Italy. She makes good use of what used to be called feminine wiles to flirt with and to amuse her excellent band, and her audience. They enjoy her eccentric delivery and her repartee, they are mesmerised by her singing, they sing along on demand and they volunteer enthusiastically for audience participation.

She had fun with Annibale from the audience

Minnozzi has a strong voice. She’s a ‘belter’ when she wants to be but she can use the lighter, more fey end of her register too with a sound reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper from the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun phase. Her cultural references are from La Dolce Vita of the 1950s and 60s – her dress sense, her repertoire, her musical idol Ennio Morricone. She sings Portuguese and Italian with equal ease. If you’ve seen the film of The Talented Mr Ripley with Jude Law, you’ll understand her milieu well, including her rendition of Tu Vuo’ Fa l’Americano.

Given the huge Italian influence, Brasil is a natural home-from-home for her. She has performed regularly in Brasil since the late 1990s, including for Globo’s telenovella soundtracks, and with Brasilian greats Paulo Moura, Martinho da Vila and Chico Buarque. Her audience knows her lyrics well. She can also call on more sombre repertoire, with songs in a Brecht and Weill vein. She has something of Piaf’s catch in the voice too.

Minnozzi uses face, gesture and posture with abandon in her delivery

Tom Jazz has a configuration similar to that of Sampa jazz club Bourbon Street – a long narrow space with small tables for light dining, a stage at one end, a mezzanine balcony upstairs with more tables and a bar, and a high-quality sound and lights set-up. The four-piece band is tight and sweet, the repertoire easy Italian and Brasilian MOR.

Minnozzi surprised me last night with a cover of the 1966 Dusty Springfield hit You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me; I discover it was a hit in Italian first, the previous year. Here’s the official video of her October 2011 hit Con un Sorriso (With a Smile) in Italian; she also issued a Portuguese version for her Brasilian audience. Truly an international star.

Bourbon Street, the purpose-built Sao Paulo jazz club named for the street in New Orleans, calls one of its cocktails a Hurricane. Reason enough for it to be empty, but this Thursday holiday evening it was so empty that the upstairs balconies were closed. Sao Paulo is ‘travelling’, fleeing the metropolis for more scenic points – on the beach at the coast, in the mountains in the interior, to the attractions of Rio, anywhere but in the metropolis, which those who are not Paulistanos say drives them crazy. So who was there last night?

Entrance to Bourbon Street Moema, Sao Paulo

The club is a large dimly-lit auditorium, with tables on two levels on the ground floor, a dance floor in front, and upper balconies curving around both sides, supported by slim cast-iron pillars. At the back is a bar, at the front a deep stage, lit from behind through glass brickwork set into the curved back wall. A DJ plies his trade from a balcony. Lighting and sound, played a little too loud as usual, are modern and high-quality. The venue is both public and intimate

Directed to a table under the watchful portrait of Ray Charles, we sat following the patrons dancing to a Brasilian soundtrack. The lively crowd took to the floor readily, more so when Orquestra SAGA arrived They’re a biggish band dedicted to playing Brasilian dance hall (gafieira) music, fronted by Gabriel Moura, son of musician Paulo Moura (for more on Paulo Moura see ). The band is well-connected with previous generations of Brasilian musicians, playing with some of the most famous – singer Seu Jorge, percussionist Wilson das Neves, singer Fabiana Cozza, trombonist Itacyr Bocato. The name of the band? Sociedade Amigos de Gafieira.

Interior Bourbon Street Moema

The couples danced well, the women waiting to be asked by the men and occasionally dancing alone, the men squiring their partners expertly around the spacious dance floor. Many of the dancers knew each other well, perhaps belonged to a club (SAGA?), we concluded, attracted by the gafieira soundtrack. But others in the audience danced just as willingly and as well, and here too, more women than men. All ages, shapes and sizes, some of the men wearing hats inside, in the current fashion, even while dancing. Older men generally were neatly dressed down, the younger ones favouring a more working class look – jeans, and white Tshirts under open checked shirts, or perhaps a striped polo shirt. The hats may be in homage to the SAGA brand – panama hat and co-respondent shoes, though I didn’t spot the shoes.

Orquestra SAGA vocaliste Flávia Menezes

Women, on the other hand, had taken the opportunity to dress up – keyhole dresses, or off the shoulder, with laced-up backs, big hair, some also sporting impossibly high heels even for walking, let alone dancing. None more glamorous than the Orquestra’s singer, whose dress was an alluring confection of dark rose pink, the banded satin serving both to reveal and to conceal in the time-honoured way. Her singing partner Moura – fawn hat over his dreadlocks, ‘unstructured’ buttoned jacket and tie – clearly favoured the working class look.

The music and dancing both excellent, there was an infectious warmth about the occasion which made you wish for more of the same, not just as a ‘preservation’ event but as a regular night out, not only booked for a night when the bar was likely to be otherwise empty, but as popular as in the Rio de Janeiro of the 1930s in which gafieira arose.

House band at Estudantina in Rio de Janeiro, where the gafieira revival began in the 1980s

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