Sao Paulo, Brazil – 2014

São Paulo, BRAZIL! No way for me to lose. I can’t go wrong. Any return to Brazil is a glorious wish come true moment for me. Ten months ago, when we came here and played Rio di Janiero and Petropolis I surely must have been saying something very much like this. The point is that Brazilian music was life changing for me. It’s as signature in my life as Jazz music is. Pop and R&B? The way I sing these two other kinds of music come from my journey into Brazilian rhythms and syncopations with their subtleties and accents and inflections. I heard that music and began to explore vocal percussion singing that still is an essential part of my musical thumbprint. Somebody will point to that as part of my legacy. Somehow my all-knowing God in this universe has worked it out so that I only had about 6 appearances in Brazil during my entire career. It surely must be that the best is yet to come.

And if our second night in Rio das Ostras is anything like last night, we’re going to make headlines. We came a day early to do press and get a good night sleep. But we were laughing until our sides ached before we could get to the hotel in a two-hour drive from the airport. We arrived at customs to show passports and it was totally empty. No one! We walked right up to the counter. It should have been a zoo like it normally is. I was cracking up.

Ok…tell me what you think of when you think of Brazil. Sunshine and warm, hot beaches and bikinis, right? But this time, we walked out of the airport and the weather is cool like Chicago in mid October. Somebody should be playing college football here. Well I accept. You can have that hot humid stuff…and the bikinis at the beach. This is wonderful.

We had a great day of press and I talked about all of the above dreams and wishes about Brazil. And the next night for the show was even better.

HSBC Brasil is a wonderful venue with rows of tables and chairs with folks facing each other as they sit and listen to music. Of course you can scoot your chair around a bit so that you almost face the stage.

They were close to the stage and closely packed together. This was a party room with people who could listen attentively and do the samba if they felt it. There was all of that tonight.

At every audience that we play to, there are always a lot of new people. But because of all of the things we were just talking about earlier, you would correctly add that in some ways this is an entirely brand new audience. When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, with many albums preceding you that people have listened to but have not have ever seen you perform live, you’re in new territory. Delightfully rare. It’s the beginning of something quite special. That was the tone of the whole evening.

Well the band stayed true to the format and just killed it with sections designed to delight and surprise. Even my pigeon Portuguese was appreciated by these guys. Rodney Holmes, our new drummer since Long Beach and for this Brazil run, gets a special mention for bringing a new spark and fresh sense of listening and interaction with everybody. We all played and sang a little differently. And that’s the sh**! The crowd loved his solo.

Our set list this summer includes the full gamut. Pop stuff, R&B, and jazz. Slow things and funky things. And moments when everybody in the group gets to shine their special light. We finished a new smoky jazz ballad treatment of “teach me tonight” with Joe Turano taking it straight to your old 52nd street jazz club tenor solo. When we added four more big favorites to close out the evening, it had to be surprising for them: “Mais que nada”, “Take Five”, “Spain”, and “Roof/Reach”. They were on their feet and had been that way since “Take Five”. Their response was touching in its sincerity, and thanks for this “dream come true” evening.

I was a little embarrassed and chuckled as I remembered Paul McCartney’s “it’s only rock n roll”. Thanks, band, you knocked it out of the part. Thanks, Junior, for bringing us back just as you promised. After only 9 months…wow! Backstage guests were just adorable. A woman named Victoria came backstage for the autograph on the inside and turned out to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life as she mimmed what she “always remembers to do” and took her right hand and slapped the palm across a whole role of kindergarteners telling them to “sit down!” She cracked the whole room up. It was the last thing I expected.

Ok y’all, that’s it. I am happy. The Portuguese word is “felicidade”! I said it all night long and pointed to my chest. Let’s go to Rio das Ostras!



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