Music column | Music

Sonic explorations into the unknown

On the road again: Jazz saxophonist Stan Getz at Copenhagen airport in 1958

On the road again: Jazz saxophonist Stan Getz at Copenhagen airport in 1958  

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This is the story of one of my favourite jazz bossa nova tunes ever. More important, it's about how I discovered at least 25 versions of the same track in barely three hours. That’s the power of the web.

The composition was Manha de Carnaval (or ‘Morning of Carnival’), composed by Brazilian genius Luiz Bonfa and written by Antonio Maria for the 1959 Portuguese film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus). I first heard it on a cassette of jazz saxophonist Stan Getz in 1991 and have regularly tripped on it thereafter.

What happened on Saturday night was incredible. For some unknown reason, the tune was spinning in my head. So I went online YouTube, heard it and proceeded to share it in a jazz group. Pure nostalgia.

Now, this was 11 p.m. and the journey had only begun. I realised saxophonist Dexter Gordon had done a version too, and checked it out. Equally beautiful.

In its original form, I had heard the jazz bossa nova version. But as I kept exploring, more magic was to follow, in a variety of genres. There was Frank Sinatra singing in his trademark evergreen style; Joan Baez doing a folk rendition; Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras giving it an operatic aria twist; Perry Como doing an English take; and José Feliciano leaving me in some melodic heaven.

The addiction kept growing. It went on to a multi-style guitar trio by John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucia and Al Di Meola, followed by a Brazilian-meets-classical guitar solo by Baden Powell. Dutch violinist André Rieu, Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto, American flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione; and Singaporean pianist Jeremy Monteiro excelled in their respective interpretations.

Some two hours into my carnival voyage, I continued with my explorations. I discovered guitarists Susana Raya and Xuefei Yang. And after all this, was still a yearning for more. The best was yet to happen: A group called Momoama with Julia Samadhi on piano and vocals, Anton Presser on guitar, a singer who did the introduction and hand claps, a bassist, a percussionist and a dancer whose footsteps provided the rhythm. Complete flamenco-jazz-bossa nova euphoria, all shot in a room with no audience at all.

That's what the Internet can do: endless exploration. This isn't the first time something like this happened to me. I have discovered various renditions of the Josef Korma-Jacques Prevert classic ‘Autumn Leaves’; the George Gershwin-DuBose Heyward-Ira Gershwin standard ‘Summertime’; and the Hoagy Carmichael-Ned Washington piece ‘The Nearness Of You’. And this is only jazz. Imagine the possibilities of other genres.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 7:18:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/sonic-explorations-into-the-unknown/article23323651.ece

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