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Arco Music presents: Luciano Leães Trio "Live at Pianistico Festival"

By Márcio Grings

   The strange days lived during the 2020/21/22 triennium will go down in history, as each of us had our share of sacrifice. During this period, I exchanged phone calls and messages with Luciano Leães on countless occasions, sharing dilemmas and agreeing on aspirations. Throughout the pandemic, in the midst of a break from live performances, the musician made several live streams and participated in sparse face-to-face shows. The invitation to play live at the 3rd edition of Pianístico excited him, as if it were 'an orchestra rehearsal' for a return to the stage. The festival held between December 3rd and 6th, 2020, in Joinville, Santa Catarina, brings together most of the material from this album. 

      Then I found out that with each new event held in southern Brazil, it brings together the cream of local and South American musicians , in addition to bringing artists from various parts of the world. In this important exchange, genres are mixed — erudite, jazz, blues, Brazilian popular music, etc. Initially, Luciano Leães did not intend to release a live album of this performance, but the work ended up materializing thanks to the encouragement of producer Russ Ragsdale (Nashville, TEN) and Tom Worrell (New Orleans, LA), pianist residing in New Orleans. The Americans were thrilled with what they heard, convincing the Brazilian musician to release the concert as a live album. They were absolutely right...   

The scenario of isolation and restrictions imposed by social confinement did not allow Luciano Leães (piano and vocals), Edu Meirelles (bass) and Ronie Martinez (drums) to do any rehearsals and, thus, they chose the path of improvisation, which attributed interesting unprecedented to the record. The result of this capture resonates like a set of songs displaced in time, transversal, offering a passport to any place or time, we just need to trigger our affective memory, especially if, like me, you like blues, jazz, Latin or instrumental music .

The African matrix of the American people is part of our social web. This syncretism forged us, a recurrent mixture in all parts of the continent, which leads us to question, for example: is there really so much difference between the maracatu of Pernambuco and the Second Line of the streets of New Orleans? I believe more in the similarity between the two, as well as in the mutual flirtation between samba and jazz that spiced up music in various parts of the world. Despite all this, perhaps from the perspective of many, the question would still be: what factors would lead a boy in southern Brazil to become a blues pianist? Even in the country of samba, pulverized with countless regional overtones, if we look at the expansion of the record market in the 1950s/60s/70s, it is necessary to remember that this phenomenon changed access to music for many. It did not differ with the records coming from the North American market — hundreds of thousands of LPs spun on Brazilian record players, reaching the hands of millions of people. Thus, mixed with titles of Brazilian, Italian, French and South American music, etc., there were jazz, blues and soul vinyls.

In a scenario similar to this one, a certain boy started to pay more attention to what he heard on the speakers. Adding to this, his pianist uncles propagated rhythms and songs at family parties, mainly at the house of his grandparents Odila and Maneco, buyers of tango albums, passionate about a diversity of regional styles and who often transformed the living room into a ballroom. After all, the Leães family has always been very musical, whether as listeners or amateur musicians. The musical bridge absorbed between Luciano Leães' adolescence and adult life transformed him. A resident of Porto Alegre, RS, aged just 20, the young pianist would already share the stage with names like Carey Bell, Hubert Sumlin and John Primer, and then, over the years, perform and record with Bob Stroger, Annika Chambers , Wee Willie Walker, Magic Slim, Tia Carroll, Earl Thomas, among others.

The musician's shows have the characteristic of promoting a direct connection with the ambience of each location. This lends uniqueness to what is played night after night. I've seen him live a few times and each night has been different. This singularity can be perceived in the Joinville setlist, even more so when I learned that the show's repertoire was discussed and rehearsed first at a distance and, tuned only during the trip, in the car.

In addition to the in-person presentation at the Pianístico Festival (which gives its name to this work), two bonus tracks – captured in lives performed during the pandemic – close the material: one of them recorded in a virtual presentation at Jim Beam Bourbon & Blues Fest, and the other was recorded at Estúdio do Arco, in a project by FAC Digital, financed with public resources to help local musicians during the pandemic.  

The listener can be sure: “Live At Pianistico” is a symbol of how music can embody whatever it wants to be, connecting to diverse sources of inspiration, and still sounding like something original and genuine._cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

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