Berks Jazz Fest 2006: Ivan Lins & Friends

Berks2006_RussellBraun.jpgSaturday night another highlight of the festival was due with the show dedicated to Ivan Lins. This Brazilian songwriter, singer and keyboarder has been long recognized as one of the greatest talents to have emerged from this culturally rich country. As an individual artist, he always stayed a bit out of the spotlight, but his songs, recorded by superstars like George Benson, Sting, Brenda Russell and others, have been heard around the world. The venerable Jason Miles accepted the challenge to put together a star-studded event to celebrate the man and his music. The core players were Ivan Lins on keys and vocals, Jason Miles on keys, Brazilian guitar players Leonard Amuedo and Romero Lubambo, Josh Dion on drums and vocals, Will Lee on bass, Caf� on percussion and an endless array of guests to bring Ivan Lins' music to life.

Berks2006_JasonMiles.jpgSinger Brenda Russell, who collaborated with Ivan Lins for over a decade, sang a couple of songs. In a funny story we were told that Brenda was asked to write the lyrics almost overnight for the song "She Walks The Earth Alone" (which won a Grammy) in order to have it sung by Sting on the CD. During the concert Will Lee, the bass player who dares to sing, handled the song quite well. Another song was done by Mike Mattison from the Derek Truck Band, who was also doing background vocals with Brenda Russell. Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias played some beautiful acoustic piano with some spirited soloing, singing along with Ivan Lins. Candy Dulfer and Rick Braun - filling in for Tom Harrell who didn't make it to the show - added a contemporary element blending well and showing lots of respect for the music of Ivan Lins with their tasteful playing. Singer Jane Monheit interpreted two songs beautifully, the second one was counted off in the wrong tempo so they had to restart the music which showed the subtleties of Brazilian music, an incident which was quite revealing to me. Ivan Lins was the center of the show, his "Comecar de novo" - allegedly his most recorded song - being a highlight of the concert for me. In addition, his percussion playing on an jewel box while others were playing was a novelty for me. Towards the end of the 3 hour concert, Chuck Loeb added some spicy playing on electric guitar while drummer Josh Dion got the chance to sing a funky song. This show was a kaleidoscope of Brazilian music and a great testament to the music of Ivan Lins, all put together by the great producer Jason Miles who has to be applauded for all the work he puts into such a project. I look forward to hearing the next all-star project under his direction at next year's festival.