Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Leo Gandelman and Marcelo Caldi at the Festival

In the Festival Vale do Café, many of the performances take place at the grand estates in the region that once were Brazil's most important coffee plantations. In these historic and often lavish settings, musicians play beneath large tents erected on sprawling lawns, large rooms in mansions turn into intimate clubs with 150-year-old decor, and stages arise in the most unusual places -- such as in the corral for milk cows where saxophonist Leo Gandelman performed on Saturday (July 23) at the Fazenda Cananéia, not far from Vassouras. Gandelman and keyboardist Maria Teresa Madeira offered spirited readings of standards by Pixinguinha, Villa-Lobos, Gnatalli, Nazaré, and other giants of the past. The show demonstrated Gandelman's great versatility, of which many fans of his "smooth jazz" side may be unaware.

Leo Gandelman, "A Rã"

The next day (July 24), Marcelo Caldi and his quartet played at the Fazenda São João da Barra near Morro Azul. Caldi, a singer and sanfonista (button accordion player), is in the center of this photo, wearing a black hat. Her performed a tribute to Dominguinhos, the great northeastern composter and sanfonista, now in his 70th year. Caldi's group displayed great proficiency and verve as they interpreted standards such as "Eu Só Quero um Xodó" and "Lamento Sertanejo." It was a great pleasure to hear the forró-style music (xotes, arrasta-pés, etc.) and northeastern-tinged choro played with the instrumentation of two accordions and a mandolin by such competent players.

Marcelo Caldi, Edu Krieger and Rodrigo Maranhão, "Desafio"

Caldi, born in 1980, has already released ten albums and played on stage with the likes of Zeca Pagodinho, Zélia Duncan, Yamandú Costa, Hamilton de Holanda, Simone, and Gandelman. His music is not easy to find on Amazon, but here is one title that is intermittently available:

Leo Gandelman's albums are easier to find: Leo Gandelman on Amazon.

The music festival runs through July 31. Other performers participating include Mart'nália, Ivan Lins, Tira Poeira, Ulissses Rocha, Yamandú Costa, Turíbio Santos, and Cristina Braga.
More info (in Portuguese): Festival Vale do Café.

Photos: Leo Gandelman and Maria Teresa Madeira at Fazenda Cananéia (top), and Marcelo Caldi and group at the Fazenda São João da Barra. Photos © Chris McGowan.

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