Jun 27, 2011

Concert Review: Oscar Castro-Neves and Gary Meek

Great concert last night at Stanford - Oscar Castro-Neves on guitar, vocals, and piano, with Gary Meek on flute, soprano and tenor sax, and keyboard. Oscar has been a major figure in Brazilian music since the beginnings of bossa nova, in the late 1950s. He plays the genre with as much mastery as anyone. Gary Meek has been playing with Castro-Neves' groups for at least 5 years, but this was the first gig they had ever played as a duo. Gary sounded terrific on every instrument - chops used with taste!

To me, it seemed to be a perfect match of players and material.

The music was all bossa nova, and almost all Jobim, with the exception of three tunes by Oscar, one Bonfa piece, and a bossa/novelty "In the Mood." The duo played arrangements originally written for Castro-Neves' 6-piece band; this gave a sense of arrangement, but with a greater sense of communication between musicians, and a greater spontaneity, than we might have heard from the full band. That is, both guys were figuring out how to cover what was important to the arrangements, and then delivering it to the audience.

I could go on, but it would just be a lot of superlatives. Oscar should use this format more often. He is otherwise often seen as a sideman with major jazz and popular artists (see his biography on his website).

Here's a Youtube clip of Oscar doing Waters of March; here's one of She's a Carioca.

There are quite a few Youtube videos featuring Gary Meek (a lot of fusion, as a sideman with Jeff Lorber, Dave Weckl, etc.). None of it sounded anywhere near as good to me as he did in person, with Oscar, playing Brazilian music.

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