An Incredible Evening of Jazz in Brazil

June 2009

Every Saturday night, the Museum of Modern Art of Salvador hosts an incredible jazz get-together called JAM no MAM. Several artists converge on stage in a show of improvisational jazz that is so tight, with more synergy than I've ever seen elsewhere.

All the musicians in their own right are insanely talented. The saxophonist would raise the eyebrows of Michael Brecker and Charlie Parker. The trumpeter / flugelhorn player would give Wynton Marsalis a run for his money. The percussionist would easily fill the shoes of Tito Puente. I had never heard a trombone played with such grace and ease.

They started out playing some standards, true to spirit. Then... Then... dovetailed into those standards began hints of latin rhythms - bossa nova, samba, maracatu, and mambo that increased to a pitch that made the audience hold their breath in amazement.

Further adding to the scene was the fact that the Museum of Modern Art is located in the Solar do Unhão - a beautiful sugarcane processing and distribution facility from the 16th century - right on the water, with the colorful, populated hills of Salvador and a fishing village as the backdrop. Narrow-gauge cargo tracks snake throughout the facility. At night, the grounds are dreamlike, as the tunnels and courtyards are aglow with warm halogen spots. The light glints off the cargo tracks like silver ribbons, disappearing into the darkness of the tunnels.

This show and this setting absolutely took me and Luciana by surprise. Our heads were buzzing for the remainder of the evening.