Concert Review: Forró in the Dark / Cyro Baptista & Banquet of the Spirits / Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz

Date: Thursday, July 30, 2015
Venue: Damrosch Park @ Lincoln Center
Concert review by Constance Cooper

Featured bands: Forró in the Dark / Cyro Baptista & Banquet of the Spirits / Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz with Arturo O’Farrill, piano; Steven Bernstein, trumpet

Photo from F.I.T.D. FB page

Photo from F.I.T.D. FB page

Forró in the Dark, Brazilian-NewYorkese-rural-urban-jazz-folk, celebrating a new CD on Tzadik, led off, playing John Zorn tunes that, like the band, represent greatly varying genres. The set showed off Zorn’s famed flexibility and the adaptability of this vigorous and eclectic group. Adding a rougher-edged choral sound to the virtuosities of Brazilian music, Forró in the Dark gives us the welcome feeling that we non virtuosos could easily join in too.

If you’d like to hear Cyro Baptista and Banquet of the Spirits at their most idiosyncratic, look on YouTube for their appearance at The Stone, which shows off their exposure to recent musical ideas as well as their ties to the past (Schumann, in one keyboard solo!) On Thursday they directed their appeal to a larger audience seated outdoors. They play very well and I will be looking for more exposure to their inventive approach to musical instruments.

The Orkestra Rumpilezz, led by Letieres Leite, was the featured group. The Orkestra delivered selections a bit longer than the usual, with welcome precision, rich sound and continuous excitement. When Arturo O’Farrill soloed on piano, some musical space was cleared for his delicious articulation of very fast, merrily dissonant phrases. In general, though, the reverb and sheer loudness of amplified percussion overrode subtleties that all the bands were capable of. Even solos were smeared by unvaried loudness and boom-booming. (A friend who knew Banquet of the Spirits from its Stone appearances was dismayed.)

In one of its selections, the Orkestra Rumpilezz inserted a welcome duo for flute and trumpet to feature the trumpeter Steven Bernstein‘s ear-refreshing, free-jazz evocations. It didn’t really fit in to the overall style, though, and one listened knowing it would be over soon, lending an air of tension to what was otherwise, despite all the loud volume and dynamic playing, a rather mild evening.

Constance Cooper’s music project’s upcoming show:


Date: Tuesday, August 4 & Thursday, August 6, 2015
Time: 9pm
Venue: Manhattan Repertory Theatre
Ticket: $20
Genre: a cappella women’s acoustic free improvisation trio

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