Hermeto Pascoal ambled out onto the stage at The Everyman theatre
in Cheltenham, he appeared to be quite an eccentric figure. Looking
like a cross between Father Christmas and Uncle Albert from Only
Fools and Horses, you were left wondering quite what kind of performance
you were going to get from him.
the moment he began playing you were left in no doubt that this
was one of South American's greatest jazz musicians. He displayed
a mastery over his choice of instruments that reflected his genius.
was born in 1936, in a small Brazilian town in the Northwest of
the country. As a youth, he began playing the flute. A naturally
multitalented musician, he went on to master a number of other instruments
including the accordion, piano, keyboard, guitar, and bass.
went on to direct big bands and orchestras, which was probably where
he learned how to write for different instruments in the ensemble.
Writing for a band and collating all those individual harmonies
is quite a task, and Hermeto tackles it as a natural.
1960s were an innovative and pioneering time for jazz, and Hermeto's
career took off. During that time, he worked with many legendary
jazz artists including Miles Davis. He began releasing compositions
that were regarded by critics as 'classics'. His fame continued
to build well into the 1970s, especially in Brazil where he was
considered a folk hero.
music bears the hallmark of innovation - he utilises many unconventional
objects like kettles, coconut shells and bottles to create melodies
that he incorporates into his music. He also has an ability to surprise
with his usual fusion of traditional Brazilian musical elements
into modern jazz. All of those elements were on show at this year's
to Hermeto's performance was certainly an experience to remember.
It was either down to his complete eccentricity or his advancing
years that he came onto the stage to perform for a few minutes each
time before ducking back into the wings. During each score, he would
play a little bit before leaving his multitalented compatriot Jovino
Santos Neto to shoulder the rest of the performance. It was usual
to see this and it made for a bizarre experience.
is undoubtedly a unique talent and his music on the night carried
a strong Latin jazz flavour. There were also influences of traditional
Brazilian music involved - there was an underlying funky samba beat
to some of his compositions that was really catchy. In fact, percussionist
Fabio Pascoal provided direct reference to those beats with his
choice of instruments.
was ably supported by a big band of talented musicians and their
collective melody was excellent. They played together with a verve
and style that really got the people in the audience to react to
his staggered on-stage, off-stage performance, the presence of Hermeto
Pascoal was never diminished because of the quality of the music
now I can't decided whether I enjoyed the concert or not. It was
certainly innovative and interesting, and some of the music was
compositions were hokey and comical, and strangely that's not an
insult either. There were moments of true inspiration as well as
sheer off-the-wall kookiness.
score that I remember told the story of a little donkey. The band
members used coconut shells to represent the sound of its hooves
and the entire brass section playing wildly to portray its braying.
Bizarrely, it worked well as an arrangement.
cool and completely mad. That's the musical world of Hermeto Pascoal!
by Nic Baddeley
about Gloucestershire festivals