Hermeto Pascoal looks back on a dizzying hypnotic experience with jazz's Bob Dylan
Pascoal is often correctly identified as O Bruxo ("the magician"). The self-taught multi-instrumentalist from northeast Brazil is an artist of improvisation. His influences are so diverse that he calls his style of jazz "universal music" - it includes everything from traditional choro music (formerly Brazilian jazz) to bossa nova, Latin jazz, bebop and psychedelia. Pascoal sat at the side of the stage behind a keyboard, his huge white beard almost touching the keys and his long hair only partially tamed by a cowboy hat. If the children's toys and the teapots, which sometimes served him as instruments, were lacking, his spirit of adventure was not. After Pascoal began working with Miles Davis in 1971, Davis described him as "the most spectacular musician in the world". You can see why.
Supported by 5 musicians of formidable experience, the magician enchants with constantly modulated melodies and rhythms. The music shifted from a cowbell and drum attack, courtesy of his percussionist son Fabio and drummer Ajurinã Zwarg, to a flute solo by saxophonist and flautist João Paulo Barbosa. Just when you thought it couldn't go any faster, the band would go twice as fast before Itiberê Zwarg's traveling bass with keyboards (common to Hermeto and André Marques) clicks into a new groove.
There was no setlist (the band "just goes where the music takes it", according to their publicist), so I can't give you any music tracks. But no title name would have done justice to the part where Fabio Pascoal made duck sounds while coaxing a mind-altering beat from a tambourine, or when Pascoal took the stage for a melodica-saxophone duel with Barbasa.
It was a difficult concert. I sometimes found myself hanging on for dear life trying to figure out what I was hearing. To that end, Hermeto reminded me of another octogenarian legend currently touring the UK. A musician sitting at the edge of the stage at a keyboard, saying little, confusing and delighting the audience, then leaving the stage with a heightened reputation for enigma. He's probably not as well known or famous, but Pascoal really is the Bob Dylan of jazz.
No other dates in Great Britain