Monday, August 18, 2003

Nelson Veras Quartet - Mons, 15/08/2003

Nelson VerasNelson Veras is a young Brazilian guitarist who's been living in France for the last 8 years. He even speaks French without the slightest hint of an accent. He was accompanied by "Magic" Malik Mezzadri on flute, David Yvinec on bass and Stéphane Galland on drums.

I've of course seen Galland many times, playing with AKA Moon and Greetings From Mercury, among others. He is without a doubt an incredible drummer, superimposing rhythms and meters with disconcerting ease, while at the same time transmitting huge amounts of energy and a simply irresistable groove. His latest gig was drumming for Joe Zawinul. The other three musicians were new to me, although I've heard bits of Malik's playing on CD.

The two sets consisted of nearly uninterrupted music: standards (American, Brazilian and French) and one composition by Malik were strung together and exploded so as to become pretty much unrecognisable. In fact, at one point while Malik was simultaneously playing flute and singing, he started playing a melody that flitted through his head and suddenly burst out laughing because (he would later explain) even he couldn't figure out what song it was! So despite the repertoire, it didn't sound anything like a "standards gig."

The music itself was quite varied, as it could veer (either sharply or more progressively) from straight-ahead swing (or rather, straight-ahead bass and as close to straight-ahead swing as Galland will allow himself to get) to very calm atmospheric sections to more rock- or groove-oriented vamps to sweetly melodic soloing and back again.

Galland's intrinsic hotness was nicely offset by Veras's cool guitar lines and comping (and vice-versa), sounding at times close to Pat Metheny. Veras uses all of the fingers on his right hand, which allows him to create both extremely fast lines and from time to time nice polyphony. Malik's playing was a joy of melody and virtuosity. Add in his occasional wordless (and generally near-falsetto) singing and you have an extremely charismatic player. This quartet will be going into the studio in december to record what will be Veras's first album as leader.

It was my first visit to the K.fee club, which is a very warm and welcoming place, which will be participating in the upcoming Mons en Jazz festival.

photo credit: Stéphane Barthod