Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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João Caetano : Kansas Smitty's/EFG Jazz Festival 21/11/2018

Joao1 Andre1 Joao2 Joe1 Andre2 Jao4 Joao3 Joao5

My second EFG London excursion saw me entering the portals of Kansas Smitty's, a place I'd heard about but never visited, a band name and a live venue,rolled into one-this is such a unique concept.However,tonight percussionist and singer, João Caetano was on show representing Portuguese traditional music with a twist.This was the framework of tonight's intimate and life affirming concert. In a word, 'fado' but with percussion emphasizing rhythm with fado.

João has an all acoustic band featuring fellow incognito member and Resolution 88 leader,Tom O'Grady whose lyrical piano intros were a delight setting the mood perfectly. João himself played two meaty floor drums but it's his voice that is the star of the show.I'ts an emotive set of pipes he has, passionate,evocative and highly poetic.The ensemble work was very seductive too ,especially on second track in 'Estrela da Manhã' adorned with some cascading acoustic slide guitar (Cam May) and fine,stinging portuguese guitar, from André Dias who is something of a rising star himself in the hot fado clubs of Lisbon. He really came into his own in the beginning of the second set especially,sweetly plucking the strings and weaving in his deadly vibrato for added effect, evoking the mood of the great zither player, Anton Karas (composer on Welles' The Third Man).

Jobim's 'Corcovado' got a good work out too, with flailing floor drums and sparse hits and some wailing alto sax courtesy of Tim Ower.Closing with 'High Tide' was the perfect denouement of the evening and bassist,Joe Sam's whose solid playing was the anchor, finally got his moment and let loose some rapid fire, slap bass that well and truly hit the mark.João Caetano seems to have fulfilled his mission statement modernising and raising the profile of fado music.While the casual listener may not notice an enormous variation, the impassioned vocal poise and the sense of ease were hugely impressive and Kanzas Smitty's morphed into a "Aos Fados" and we were all the better for it!A top night in Bethnal Green....

Words Emrys Baird

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