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Duo is still potent after almost 40 years

October 03, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

Showbiz couples aren't exactly new news. Think George and Gracie, Sonny and Cher, Brad and Jennifer. Jazz couples are less common. Marian and Jimmy McPartland, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral and now -- call it crossover coupling -- Diana Krall and Elvis Costello.

But let's not forget one of the jazz world's most durable relationships: the nearly 40-year bond between a pair of jazz-driven Brazilians, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira.

Individually and as a team they have been a potent presence almost literally since their arrival in this country in the late '60s.

Purim defined the role of the singer in the emergence of '70s fusion; Moreira established the importance of a percussionist in the jazz rhythm section.

Those remarkable abilities -- still in full flower -- were on display Wednesday at the Catalina Bar & Grill in a performance featuring the duo with the Sandro Albert Quintet.

Purim and Moreira usually appear leading their own regular ensemble, so it was intriguing to hear them in a different -- and, in some ways, more challenging -- setting.

For Purim, it meant finding her way through some of the group's fast-paced pieces, singing in unison with Albert's guitar or Katisse Buckingham's saxophone.

Not surprisingly, she did so with the verve, musicality and rhythmic drive that have consistently characterized her work.

Moreira was, as always, a marvel. A master of percussive tone and timbre, he used his collection of rattles, shakers, strikers and whistles to enhance every piece with constantly shifting shades of colorful sound.

The only down moment came when Moreira's solo segment -- usually a highlight -- was modified to include drummer Gary Novak, whose fascination with the noisy sound of his ride cymbal washed away many of the subtleties in Moreira's otherwise entrancing presentation.


Flora Purim and Airto Moreira

Where: Catalina Bar & Grill, 1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood

When: Tonight-Saturday, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Price: $20-$22 with a two-drink minimum

Contact: (323) 466-2210

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