Sunday, July 7, 2013

Jazz Forum Arts Brazilian Afternoon Free Concert in Harrison,NY

Mark Morganelli, Nanny Assis and Vic Juris
photo by Ralph A. Miriello ©2013 
Impresario and trumpet player Mark Morganelli has been presenting jazz concerts since 1979 when he presented concerts at 50 Cooper Street in New York at his Jazz Forum Loft. Under the banner of  Jazz Forum Arts, which he started in 1985, this non for profit production company has brought jazz to many interesting and diverse venues to the delight of music lovers in the tri-state area. I was fortunate to see some of the great jazz shows Morganelli has produced each year at the venerable Tarrytown Musical Hall in Tarrytown , New York. My most memorable concert was one the late, great Dave Brubeck gave at the concert hall during his ninetieth year, one I shall not forget.

In addition to ongoing music at Tarrytown, this summer Jazz Forum Arts will provide Westchester County residents a series of free summer concerts, the Dobbs Ferry Summer Music series, sponsored by Chase Bank, and held at Mercy College. The series will run every Wednesday  from June 19 through August 21, 2103.

Morganelli  is an accomplished trumpet and flugelhorn player who has performed at numerous festivals and venues both in this country and in Europe. His Jazz Forum All Stars can be seen performing weekly at the Rainwater Grill in Hastings on the Hudson or in a duo format at Orissa in Dobbs Ferry.

As part of another Chase sponsored free summer jazz series, Morganelli is performing  a series of weekly afternoon concerts at the Chase corporate offices at 106 Corporate Drive in Harrison, New York. I got a chance to see a trio he assembled to perform on Wednesday afternoon July 3rd for an intimate hour long
program of Brazilian jazz.

Mark Morganelli
photo by Ralph A. Miriello©2013 

In the shade of the trees around the outdoor picnic tables adjacent to the office building's cafeteria, the trio set up to entertain anyone who cared to sit down and listen. Morganelli was joined by his long time friend and musical collaborator, the guitarist Vic Juris and the effervescent percussionist Nanny Assis. Bassist Nilson Matta was scheduled to appear but got stuck in pre fourth of July traffic. Mr. Juris had a blond custom acoustic guitar with a deep cutaway that he played through a small amplifier with no electronics.
Mr. Morganelli played his copper finished flugelhorn and some hand percussion instrument. Mr. Assis played a silver Timbau ( pronounced Chimbau), on which he demonstrated he could reproduce the sound of three congas on one drum, a percussive box that served as his seat, a hi-hat and two cymbals and his panderio.

Nanny Assis
photo by Ralph A. Miriello©2013 
With this sparse but effective set of instruments, the trio started the set with the Jobim classic "The Girl from Ipanema" made famous by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz. The music seemed to send a warm breeze through the air as the infectious Brazilian bossa brought the small crowd to a far away beach. Mr. Morganelli stated the melody briefly but beautifully and Mr. Juris embellished on it with his own fleet runs and gentle chording. Mr. Assis smiled broadly as he kept the floating beat with his authentic rhythmic time.
The group continued with song titled "Amore and Pace" ( Love and Peace) Mr. Assis played his silver Timbau, an instrument which gave him a remarkable range of tones depending on how and where he played on it. Mr. Juris accompanied softy as the sound of Mr. Morganelli's warm, melodic flugelhorn wafted in the air.

The trio continued with another samba by Mr. Jobim. Mr. Juris started it out with a deft display of harmonics on his guitar. Mr. Assis stood up on this one using just his panderio. A a tambourine like instrument that looks limited in its use, Mr Assis proved that in the right hands it could be made to create  an astonishing variety of percussive rhythms. Mr. Juris started to really warm up on this one, creating interesting and unexpected harmonies. He would elevate on his heels as ramped up the speed and complexity of his solo to the delight of the gathering.
Vic Juris
photo by Ralph A. Miriello©2013 

Another Jobim classic "Dindi" ( pronounced Gingi) was sensitively played by Mr. Morganelli on his honey toned flugelhorn. Mr. Morganelli principally played the melodies of these Brazilian classics throughout the concert,  leaving the improvisations to Mr. Juris .  Mr Juris is an accomplished played with a reservoir of interesting ideas. His sense of time was impeccable as he floated through some rapid single note improvisations that skillfully fit between Mr. Assis's beats. Mr. Assis for his part served as the focal point of the trio. Originally form the  Bahia area of Brazil, Mr. Assis  brought a palpable exuberance to the music of his native land. His smile radiated the joy that the music brings to those who allow themselves to fall under it's spell. His marvelous sense of rhythm carried the tunes like a wave of warm surf enveloping a sun drenched beach.

 The last song was titled another Jobim classic  "Live to Dream"  or "Vivo Sonhando" another song made
famous to American audiences by Stan Getz  from his "Getz/Gilberto" album from 1963. Again the easy sway of this evocatively sensual melody was played lovingly by Moragnelli. Mr. Juris took a graceful and measured solo and Mr. Assis kept the rhythm of the tune in perfect tempo.

Mr. Moganelli and company provided a wonderful afternoon respite for all those who came to hear them.
A chance to experience the easy listening, sensual sounds of Brazilian samba on an otherwise hectic workday is surely the formula for a happy start to the fourth of July weekend. Check here at Jazz Forum Arts  for upcoming shows.

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