A nice crowd of Latin-jazz enthusiasts showed up to the Cistern on Sunday night (May 29) for an exotic set of instrumental music with a distinctively Brazilian flavor. Thanks to the fiery skills and joyful style of Brazilian accordionist Toninho Ferragutti, along with the rich texture of his fantastic backing string quintet, no one left feeling disappointed.
Obviously in a fine mood, Ferragutti led his group through a mix of choro, forró, and other South American styles, delivering most of the songs from his latest album, Nem Sol Nem Lua. The collection was recorded without percussion, which allowed Ferragutti to explore the timbre of the accordion with the cello, violin, and viola by way of dynamics, improvisation, and various musical colors.
Some of the early standouts of the set included the highly syncopated "Bico Doce" and the swaying and romantic "O Urubu E A Pipa." The zippy "Sanfoneon," a spicy, cinematic piece, drew huge applause. The song was originally released in 2001 and won a Latin Grammy Award in 2001 for the best regional music CD.
"Good evening ... and thanks for coming," Ferragutti announced after the first few numbers. He apologized for his "English not so good," but there was no need for a pardon. His English was fine, and his performance was stellar.
Ferragutti played trumpet and piano as a child before picking up the accordion under the guidance of his sax-playing father. He started professionally in São Paulo in 1985, playing on recordings and in concerts by regional artists. Ferragutti's playing style and technique reflected a wide range of influences, from classical and gypsy jazz to more traditional Brazilian folk and pop music. Even with the fastest 16th notes and trickiest transitions, he played with precision and fluidity.
The middle tones of his accordion supported the high notes of the violin and viola. His rhythms complemented the walking bass lines, too. While the main string played added a dense and rich background and foundation for the accordion, the upright bass made it swing and move.
The concise but diverse mini-suite "Na Sombra Da Asa Branca," the frolicking lead-off track on Nem Sol Nem Lua, closed the set with elegant flair.