REVIEW: Vento Em Madeira at St Giles Crypt, Camberwell

Vento em Madeira – does anyone have a better picture? 

Vento Em Madeira
(Camberwell Crypt. 10th June 2016. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

Hats off to Jonny Phillips for bringing Vento em Madeira, a six-piece unit from Sao Paulo, over to the UK. What a band. They have a joyous way of watching, sparking, challenging and amusing each other, non-stop. They are inspired by jazz, by classical music and by the whole Afro-Brazilian tradition, and they develop long-form melodies and compositions either from their own work, or from elsewhere.

Musically there isn’t a weak link among them, and the quality of the listening, the band sound are astonishing. The first thing one notices are the interactions of vocalist Monica Salmaso and flautist Léa Freire, their two-voice palette of unisons, thirds, calls-and-responses, and everything from Bach counterpoint and birdsong, is mesmerisingly fresh and lively.

I caught part of their gig at a packed St Giles Crypt in Camberwell. This was the last night of the current tour. The couple next to me, who couldn’t stop chattering throughout, did just about notice, among many other random things (STFU), that the drummer Edu Ribeiro was “cute.” I was completely transfixed by his drumming. How one single player can create such a constantly rolling, rapid-fire samba party and commentary going, while hardly moving a muscle above the elbows must be a miracle of nature – or more likely the result of a lifetime of devotion to his craft. In over six thousand pieces published to date on this site, no musician has yet been described as “killing.” It is time to make a one-off exception to that rule. He was.

Another player who caught the eye and ear was the saxophonist Teco Cardoso, who has graced albums by Joyce, Edu Lobo, Baden Powell and Rosa Pasos. As I heard him build and shape and story-tell a spell-binding solo on soprano sax, I imagined that he could easily walk out and solo in front of any European professional big band, and in the same thought I could envisage that would have not just the audience but every member of the band applauding him too.

This band is gig-ready, festival-ready, the real deal. They are a compositionally-led, but at a stage of completeness and interaction that many bands in Europe and the UK aspire to and…ahem…might get to one day. Rather than having their eyes buried in their complex music, all six have committed themselves to the music and to each other to live every detail of it completely in the moment. Next time they come to the UK, they deserve a bigger, better stage, and should be giving us all masterclasses not just in how to play but also in how to live.

Monica Salmaso (voice), Léa Freire (flute), Teco Cardoso (flute and sax), Tiago Costa (piano), Fernando Demarco (bass), Edu Ribeiro (drums)

LINKS: Brasiliano (The full album from 2013)
Vento em Madeira website

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