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Airto and Flora Purim Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Music Review) Airto and Flora Purim Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Music Review)
Airto and Flora Purim Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Music Review)

With careers spanning 50 years plus, this critically acclaimed Brazilian duo performed once again with new lineup of musicians after many years away from the European circuit.

Percussionist Airto was a sought-after musician in Brazil in the early 60’s, later moving to New York where he met his lifelong vocalist partner Flora Purim who was already a big bossa nova star in her native country

 

So it was with bated breaths that the audience awaited the arrival of this world renowned musical couple for what would be an outstanding night of Brazilian infused Latin jazz.

 

As Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, celebrates its 60th anniversary, it was pleasant to see that not much has changed in the 30 or so years since I began coming to this much loved venue.

 

The seating was still cosy and laid out in rows allowing everyone to get a full view of the small and compact stage. The lighting was subdued and the conversation hushed all helping to create that warm and intimate atmosphere that is unique to Ronnie’s.

 

The gig begins with Airto demonstrating his percussive and skills on a range of instruments that included bongos, shakers, whistle, drums and his much loved tambourine.

 

This is quickly followed by a medley of Brazilian infused jazz tune songs from his immense catalogue of songs, in which each musician took a solo turn. The notable feature throughout was the searing and awesome guitar solos by Jose Neto, who himself is a Ronnie’s favourite. He was simply incredible and worthy of his own solo show.

 

Dressed simply in a floral white and blue shirt, Flora takes to the stage and begins singing in her trademark voice which drifts from lyrics to wordless ‘scatting’ without over losing touch with the melody of the song.

 

However it’s quite clear that time has taken a toll, as not only had she lost some of her famed energy, her voice lacked power and she was unable to reach the six-octave voice for which she’s known. Her voice although at times weak, still retained the warmth and sparkle of old as amply shown when singing the Chick Corea ballad ‘Light as Feather’.

 

The second set more vibrant with greater interaction and engagement with the audience, with Flora retelling how the Club has almost been a place of pilgrimage for over 30 years. Much to our disappointment and surprise she came of after three songs only to come back for an encore at the close.

 

The quality of the musicianship cannot be overstated. All band members were on top form. Vitor Alcantara was simply astonishing on the sax and flute. Whilst Fabio Leandro on piano was very imaginative adding that creative juice that held the band together. Add tot his the intelligent bass playing of Fernando Merchado and the perceptive drumming of Carlos Ezequiel, the night was music of the highest order.

 

The crowd were simply in awe from the first note to last and judging by the raucous applause the band and Flora received at the end it was clear that they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

 

An exceptional night of music from an accomplished set of musicians combined with the skills of Airto and the alluring voice of Flora Purim. what more can you ask for. Be sure to catch them on their next visit.

 

27-29 June, Ronnie Scotts, 7.30pm, £30-£52 Tickets and details https://www.ronniescotts.co.uk/performances/view/5154-airto-moreira-and-flora-purim#

  • Peter Smith

    June 29, 2019 #1 Author

    I was privileged to attend one of only three nights which these amazing musicians were playing at Ronnie Scott’s. The performances was at times mesmerising and at other times just awe inspiring. Ronnie Scott’s is the perfect venue to truely appreciate this unique combination of artistes.

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