[Dixielandjazz] Hermeto Pascoal: Any Instrument + Funny Costumes + Humor = Jazz (Steve barbone)

Tito Martino tmartino at terra.com.br
Wed Nov 3 17:53:44 PST 2004

Steve asked about Hermeto Pascoal playing at the Lincoln Center:
 <<<< Hey, Tito and Luis, have you seen/heard this inventive

Steve, sure he's a well known musician in whole Brazil, adored by many
and hated by the usual suspects.  What the reviewer didn't tell is that
Hermeto is a BLACK, and an albino black, that means he is light skinned
and almost blind because his light coloured eyes get obfuscated with too
much light.   I can grant you that he is certainly a musical genius, he
can not only create beautiful and harmonious and poetic compositions,
but also interpret any song with great musicality and soul in any kind
of musical instruments or extracting musical sounds out of banal
objects. And what the reviewer certainly don't suspect, is that all
Hermeto plays or does, is a form of social protest against racism,
against bad taste, against conformism, against hypocrite criticism.  We
can say he's "signifying" al the time.

For instance, he knows that the music he usually plays can not in any
circumstance be called "Jazz", as Winton Marsalis certainly knows. 
He used to tell me he laughs a lot when some newspaper reviewer
publishes a doctoral analyse on the "New Jazz" of some Hermeto playful
performance.  He told me once, "Tito you know I don't play Jazz, but I
let the critics go on".

He is certainly a hell of a great musician, and could play Jazz (OKOM I
mean) if he wanted.  But in my opinion, he performed at the Lincoln
Center stage for other purposes, and with an agenda known by him and by
Marsalis. I agree; it's important to break myths and put down walls and
open a way to the historic Jazz Marsalis is fighting to establish. 

I know him personally, we are in very good friendly relationship, in
fact, when I was living in Bern, Swiss he went there for a tour and
played a concert in the nearby, with all that kind of stuff. And I don't
know how (he's half blind) he spotted me in the second row and without
any ceremony invited me to sit in with his band, on the spot! I told him
"I don´t have my instrument" to what he replied immediately offering his
own soprano sax; the public was already applauding, so I had to climb to
the stage and asked him: what you want to play? 
Well, that's the point I want to stress here in the DJML: he said "let's
play a blues in F" because he knew that although being Brazilian, I am a
Jazz Player and can play only Jazz. And to some bewilderment of his
young band members, he started to play at the piano a perfectly styled
stride figure à la James P. Johnson, to what I was practically carried
to a blues improvisation in F.   The public got nuts, but what I want to
stress is that he knows what Jazz is all about, or let's say, what is
OKOM, and he CAN play it!    


Tito Martino Jazz Band
São Paulo    Brazil

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