The W Gallery of Wayland Showcases the Music of Brazil - by Neil Olmstead

This past Sunday,  Arts Wayland hosted the Fernando Brandão Quintet at The W Gallery. This was the tenth jazz concert in two years presented by the arts group, supported in part by the Village Bank.

Brazilian flutist Fernando Brandão brought his international quintet into the colorful arts space, filling it with authentic Latin American melodies and intricate rhythms. Peruvian bassist Oscar Stagnaro and drummer Bertram Lehman anchored the rhythm section, while Maxim Lubarsky, originally from the Ukraine, carried the harmonic pulse on piano. Assisting Brandão with the intricate and often delicate lead lines was the young Puerto Rican saxophonist Edmar Colon. All musicians teach at Berklee College of Music  and were invited by their colleague and professor of piano, Neil Olmstead, a Wayland resident associated with Arts Wayland.

Brandão, a recognized historian of Brazilian folk music, chose compositions ranging from the southeastern and northeastern regions of Brazil. Styles such as choro, samba and bossa, and baião and frevo were included with pieces by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Hermeto Pascoal, and Pixinguinha, and originals of Brandão. The pieces were arranged in the format of American jazz, wherein the theme is stated before a round of improvised solos occur over the repeated form. One major distinction in these Brazilian melodies is the length. Unlike the 32-bar jazz standard, the melodies are long compositions with ebbs and flows, thereby placing distinct creative demands upon the soloists. Despite this challenge, Colon’s saxophone solos seemed to joyfully float on top of the tightly knit rhythm section, often celebrating bursts of synchronicity with drummer Lehman. Lubarsky’s piano solos maintained the percussive tautness of the groove while exhibiting a “long line” contour, building toward climactic peaks near the endings. Brandão happily displayed all flutes; traditional, alto and the massive bass flute which he jokingly introduced as plumbing materials from his kitchen. One was left wondering (perhaps hoping) how a fine Peruvian bass solo might sound in this context, but alas this was not to be.

The sold-out house was happily engaged throughout the two-set performance, comfortably masked and basking in warm, foot-tapping Brazilian grooves. Hats off to Arts Wayland for making another fine cultural contribution to our greater Metrowest community.

- Neil Olmstead 12/13/21

- From left to right -
Fernando Brandão, Maxim Lubarsky, Oscar Stagnaro, Neil Olmstead, Edmar Colón and Bertram Lehmann