June 2006

Seu Jorge
at the Toronto Jazz Festival
June 30, 2006Harbourfront Centre Concert StageToronto
Party Brazilian Style
by Paul J. Youngman with photo by Dougal Bichan
The opening act, a duo of Jiao Rai and Jum Bai came out on stage to a warm welcome. The singer and rhythm guitarist Jiao Rai has a Spanish flamenco vocal style, raspy, yet smooth in the Nat King Cole tradition. This singer songwriter brings an energetic and enthusiastic approach to all the songs he performs.

The duo performed six songs, Jum Bai backed up with some very nice guitar playing at times in a traditional flamenco style as well as vocals. The duo had many effects pedals. The second song in, a medium-paced maracas sound track lent a steady beat and cha-cha style rhythm. Another flick of a pedal and the third song had the duo joined with an electric bass track that was on for the evening. I was waiting for the orchestra in a box but that never materialized. The Stevie Wonder tune “Master Blaster” was performed in a rollicking spirited flavour. A fitting ending that had the audience rocking in their seats.

What was to be a twenty-minute rest turned into a three quarter of an hour wait. When Seu Jorge (Sir George in English) finally graced us with his presence, the restless audience, en masse, jumped to their feet, never to sit again. Seu Jorge is a Brazilian singer, rapper, hip-hop artist of the moment, spokesman for Brazilians oppressed.

The first song started like a locomotive chugging up a mountain, a constant throbbing and sensual sound was produced, full of energy and a force that immediately propelled the audience into an even more sensual movement of all parts of their bodies. This was a Brazilian festival, many in the audience were in the soccer team colours of Brazil, a bright yellow that made the audience appear quite distinctive. Young women were in a frenzy and tried to storm the stage. The security was not prepared and one young woman danced with Jorge for a couple of minutes before she was hustled off the stage. On another occasion half way through the show this occurred again and became a wrestling match between two security people and a Samba dancing girl who was in good shape and probably could have taken them both if she so desired.

Seu Jorge
Jorge had a guitar that he strummed to good effect. He sings in Portuguese, with a nasal voice, almost a speaking tone but at a rapid pace. It really is not so much about the music as it is about the spirit that is conveyed. He has a spirit that is indomitable, he motivates by his laid-back charm and poise on stage. Jorge was joined on stage by a bass player, a kit drummer snare, floor tom, hi hat and two small cymbals; a ukulele and percussion player, and a percussion player. The percussionists had a three-way drum battle on tambourine or rack drum that was excellent. The audience was drawn in as well, chanting on beats one and three, quite exciting. The percussionist also made some funky groans from a Tan Tan or Cuica drum, it sounded like underwater tones, groans, grunts and a final explosive fart, to the ultimate joy of the audience. The drummer reaches into the drum and possibly pulls the skin from inside, while hitting the head with the other hand, in order to create these sounds.

Jorge made it big in the movie City of God, this was followed by the more recent, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zessou. He has a few CDs as well, the most recent is Cru, released in 2005 on Wrasse Records. Jorge performed 10 numbers and 2 encore numbers. Among the songs he performed, he included a couple of Brazilian standards, as well as his originals. The final song before the encores was “Problema Sociale”, a political statement on the desperate situation for the poor in Brazil.

At the completion of the song, Jorge gave a heartfelt speech to his audience, mostly compatriots, telling them of his wish for stability and not stagnation in Brazil. Jorge also promised the audience he would return to Canada soon. He said, “I will come back again with great news about Brazil.”

We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
• • • • • •
Dougal Bichan
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The Live Music Report

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