The name Leo Gandelman may not ring a bell for local jazz lovers but the Brazilian saxophone player is worshipped in his homeland.
The musician will be performing in Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. Presented by KLPac and the Embassy of Brazil in KL, the two-night show will see an upbeat repertoire comprising samba and bossa nova rhythms.
The 60-year-old Gandelman is one of the masters of Música Popular Brasileira (translated: Brazilian Popular Music or MPB). And as the name suggests, it is an immensely varied, multifaceted genre, and the biggest genre within Brazilian music.
MPB is neither traditional folk music, nor fits into any other clearly defined genre. It brings together elements of various Brazilian musical styles, often mixed with different kinds of international music genre.
Son of a classical pianist, Gandelman was already a soloist for the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra at 15. Combined with a solid classical foundation, he set off to study at Berklee College of Music in the US before returning to Brazil in the late 1970s.
Hailing from a musical family, Gandel-man’s foray into music started when he performed with his mother and sisters on several occasions.
“During my childhood, my mother was my piano teacher and used to play with me while I played flute pieces. And in adolescence, I played baroque and renaissance music with my two sisters,” Gandelman says in an e-mail interview.
“I stopped my music studies for some years and worked as a photographer. Later, when I discovered the possibilities of creating my own music, and when I started to play the saxophone and learnt to improvise music, a whole new world opened up for me. But, I do really love to play classical music and allocate part of my time to develop a repertoire of classical concerts and MPB to be played with orchestras. I’ve played as a soloist with the best Brazilian symphonic orchestras, with the Moscow Symphonic Orchestra and the Venezuela Youth Orchestra.”
Gandelman plays both the tenor and alto sax although he never intended to play one better than the other.
“I am a composer, producer, arranger and all I do is related to a final sound. So to play a specific sax will depend on the music itself. But, I love the sax!”
A true Brazilian at heart, Gandelman has contributed immensely to music in his homeland, with over 1,000 recordings to date. With 10 albums under his belt and appearances on over 600 albums, he has also developed a noticeable career in the US in the last decade, performing to a full house for six seasons at the prestigious Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City.
Despite his countless awards and accolades, Gandelman continues to surge forward with new creations, and another album is already in the works.
He says: “I have to have a proposal, a goal, a project and an artistic direction. Composing is very serious business and it demands a work process which you have to be prepared and devoted – it’s 90% transpiration and 10% inspiration.”
Gandelman is especially proud of Solar and Furuvude, two compositions he wrote with William Magalhaes, which have been played on radio stations all over the world. Both songs are found on his 1990 Solar album.
“I had the opportunity to hear these songs in very unexpected and surprising moments of my life. Those songs, which will also be played in Malaysia, opened many doors for my music in Brazil and the rest of the world. They are part of the magic moment of an artist’s life,” says the contented musician.
For his debut concert in Malaysia, Gandelman promises only his best. “I will be playing with a group formed by the best young musicians today in Brazil: Eduardo Farias on keyboards, Alberto Continentino on bass and Cassisus Thepersson on drums. We’ll be showing lots of Brazilian swing with a compilation of our best music, and from the most popular composers.”
Fans can expect to hear Tom Jobim’s Felicidade (Happiness) and Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars), Carlos Lyra and Geraldo Vandré’s Quem Quiser Encontrar o Amor (Who Will Find Love), and the popular Canto de Ossanha (Cry No More) by Baden Powell.
Get ready for some swinging samba.
Gandelman and his quartet will be performing on Feb 10 and Feb 11 at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre at 8.30pm. Tickets are available from www.ticketpro.com.my. Call 03-4047 9000 for more information.