If you’re just tuning in, then Brazil is a surprise to you, too. Patrick and I were just recounting this recent fortnight.  We left 15 days ago and went to Toronto, to Kiawah Island, to Newark, NJ, to Brazil… a crazy routing.

Brazil is awesome and breathtaking unlike anyplace else on the planet. I looked out of my window at 10 o’clock in the morning, and the beach was jammed with people and umbrellas and babies and volleyballs as far to the right and left as you could see, more than a mile in each direction. And yes, it’s called Ipanema Beach.

Almost all the time, one is astounded by the view out to sea with a glance to the left that shows Corcavado with Christ The Redeemer on top, arms outstretched. Or looked the other direction and there’s the iconic Sugarloaf mound. And it was with these feelings inside that we drove an hour and a half from Rio to Petropolis. Petropolis is a long ways up the mountains, and Alina, the sister of our main promoter Junior, was just delightful. She became like Auntie Alina, showing us things and pointing out other stuff. And talking about her daughter Nina, inspiring me to sing “Nina Never Knew.” We even started a new song, with Nina’s name in it.

When we got to our venue, we discovered it actually resembles a huge Swiss chalet. It’s surprising and awesome to see it appear, all white and St. Moritz-like, right here in Brazil. It had been a casino at one time, but now is a collection of elegant residential suites. No more casino, but they did construct a real concert venue with a wrap-around mezzanine. The highlight of the evening was Brazilian artist Zé Ricardo joining me on stage, and the two of us doing some real authentic Brazilian music.

BUT! Suddenly all the power went out onstage. I’m laughing now, and I even laughed when it happened. Why? Because it’s just… PERFECT. Just made to order for a professional singer of 50 years. Of course, if this kind of power failure happens at Yankees Stadium or the Rose Bowl, then you’re sunk. But not in Petropolis. Larry and I looked at each other with a “Let me at ‘em” attitude. We fumbled a little bit, but then decided, “Let’s go acoustic right at these people!” The ever-poignant Waltz for Debbie, followed by Summertime. By the end of Summertime, the band was back powered up and we finished strong. They roared. This got the biggest applause of the evening, it seemed to me. They really appreciated this “Take care of business” effort. And then Zé came and joined us, and things took off into the sky and still another direction, with everybody singing “Agua de Beber” and “Mas Que Nada.”

Wow. What do we do tomorrow?

I’ll tell you what we did. The band powered onto stage in front of 6000 people in downtown Rio on the festival grounds right by their central lake. And it was electric, literally and figuratively.

We had arrived early and shared one continuous long gasp as we stood there in the shadow of the Christ statue on Corcavado, ever present to the eyes in your head and heart. The sun was shining and some teenagers rollerskated, and partied about as we soundchecked on this holiday weekend. And then, of all things, I listened to the soundcheck of Paulo Jobim and group. Antonio Carlos Jobim’s son was playing the tradition, and I sneaked over to the edge of the stage and just sat there, marveling at this matinee. This was the stuff of my dreams. At home in Sausalito and San Francisco, I tried to create this: This sunny afternoon matinee, with the accompaniment of the wonderful soft samba sound. Open the doors, and walk in and out with an umbrella drink or not. My mind was in flight.

All of this culminated in the evening performance with a full moon watching everybody. The light from the stage spilled out into the audience so that we could see smiles and dancing far out into the whole gathering. The band was precise and locked. Joe’s and Larry’s and John’s and Mark’s solos were inspired but oh-so-relaxed and intimate: Fire & Ice. Zé joined me again as I took time to tell everybody how they (and I pointed at them) had changed my life… All true! And I began to tick off the names of artists who they recognized and spontaneously yelled and screamed in appreciation.  These were their heroes, too.

Zé is loose and fun and “of the moment.” You know I love that. So the both of us were really conscious of this spontaneity even as we did it. Wow! There’s a special magic in the air when that happens. It’s a natural high. We did encores and they still wanted more. So we gave it to them. The band and I hugged and high-fived in our own joyful satisfaction of doing our best and beyond.

Our promoters with SESC were laughing and grinning and clapping their hands in joy. It was everything they hoped for and more. And we felt the same way. Something special had happened that’s like the doors swinging open, with a real attractive view into the future.

I am happy.

Love, Al

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