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Jazz Festival 2008 Brazil

Brazil is primarily known in the jazz world for bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim and the developing styles of the past few decades. Jazz Festival Brasil is the dream of Marcelo Costa, a trumpeter who decided that it was long overdue for the music he loves (pre-bop jazz) to be featured in his native Brazil. After staging its debut concerts in 2001, Jazz Festival Brasil became an annual festival in 2004. Pianist Judy Carmichael is an integral facilitator of the festival, planning the schedule with Costa in addition to performing with her own band. Most unusual about Jazz Festival Brasil is that it is a three-day traveling event that visits seven cities during September. At a few points in time, the festival is taking place in three cities at once.

I traveled with the Judy Carmichael Septet, seeing the group perform in São Paulo and Brasilia before catching the other four bands at Bela Horizonte’s Palacio das Artes. One of the top stride pianists of the past couple of decades (Dick Hyman, Louis Mazetier, Neville Dickie and Jeff Barnhart are among the handful around today who are on her level), Carmichael has rarely been heard in this large a group. The horn players (the witty and powerful Michael Hashim on alto and baritone, the up-and-coming tenor Nik Payton, trumpeter Charlie Caranicas and trombonist Dan Barnett) worked together very well, riffing behind the solos and cheering each other on.

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