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World Music Review

Brazil's Djavan Lights a Fire Fueled by Rock, Latin, Jazz Beats

April 16, 2001|DON HECKMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Brazilian superstar Djavan's concert at Royce Hall on Friday was the final event in a yearlong celebratory tour. Embracing 25 years of his music, the program was a one-of-a-kind offering, a rare opportunity to experience the rich catalog of a major Brazilian artist.

In the concert's opening segment, the singer poured out material underscored with rock and funk rhythms. Standing center stage, a small, slender figure surrounded by his eight-piece band, he grooved--especially in tunes such as his Latin Grammy-winning "Acelerou"--with irrepressible rhythmic intensity.

Next, he turned to Brazilian rhythms, especially the samba and the bossa nova, performing in a more sparse trio setting with guitarists Joao Castilho and Max Viana (his son), often making jazz connections and adding trombonist Francois de Lima's brawny soloing to his earliest hit, "Fato Consumado."

But it was in the final half of the program that the real celebration took place. Responding to a gesture of inclusion from Djavan, the capacity crowd surged to the front of the auditorium. In characteristic Brazilian style, every piece that followed became an audience sing-along, with Djavan occasionally pausing to smile as the crowd carried his melodies.

The evening surged to a climax with the high spirits of the crowd intermingling with the ebullience of the musicians. The horn players danced their version of the samba, countered by the rhythmic calisthenics of the guitarists. In the spotlight, Djavan roved the stage apron, slapping hands with the crowd, enjoying every minute of a remarkable evening, one that was clearly as enjoyable to him as it was to his enraptured listeners.

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