The last time Fernanda Porto (right) performed in Miami, she wowed the crowd at the awards ceremony of the Brazilian Film Festival with an eclectic mix of bossa nova, samba, drum and bass, and for that extra-special something, Japanese taiko drummers. The crowd was dazzled and the raspberry-haired singer's musical mastery was clear. About a month later Porto was sitting in the Miami Arena, one of 5 nominees for a Latin Grammy as best new artist. Though her self-titled CD propelled her to a prominent place in Brazil's charts, it is only now about to be released in the U.S.
Tonight Porto brings her mix back to Miami as part of the JVC Jazz Festival's TransAtlantic Night. She infuses Brazilian pop with electronica while relying on her classical training to forge in new directions. When she started singing, Porto says, she was advised to stick to the steadfast bossa nova and samba styles. But Porto wanted to create cutting-edge music. Soon she hooked up with producers in São Paolo's drum and bass scene and was recognized as a substantial talent with a unique sound and style.
Sharing the bill with Porto is Karsh Kale, another innovative performer who is rooted in the traditions of an ancient culture. But like Porto, Kale, a collaborator of musicians Talvin Singh and Bill Laswell, is influenced by the modern world. He's cut a musical figure for himself in the New York and London scenes with his mastery of tabla as well as his electronic percussions. Kale was born in India and grew up in the U.S. His sound relies heavily on the classical Indian training he received on tabla. This will be the first show Kale plays in Florida.
Both Porto and Kale are perfectly suited for JVC's TransAtlantic Night. Both come from rich musical cultures, yet they use their traditions to contribute to new sounds. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
The concert takes place at 7:00 p.m. at the 73rd Street Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $20. Call 305-672-5202.
Accomplished artists unleash their talent
When do veteran jazz musicians hang it up for good? Not until they croak at the keys of their piano, stroke out while blowing too hard into their saxophones, or collapse while scatting through a tune. Not that we mind. An experienced jazzster is infinitely preferable to some young gun who can't improv his way through the simplest of tunes. During the portion of the JVC Jazz Festival Miami Beach held at the Van Dyke Cafe (846 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) over the next 3 days, the bill will boast a trio of venerable cats, all of whom are more than eligible to collect Social Security but thankfully have no reason to slink into retirement just yet. Tonight at 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. catch pianist/vocalist Mose Allison (right); tomorrow at 10:00 and 11:30 p.m. and Saturday at the same time hear tenor saxophonists George Coleman and Houston Person, respectively. Call 305-534-3600 for ticket prices. -- By Nina Korman
Modern Mama Worship
What a marvelous night for a moon dance, celebrating Demeter, the Greek mum of fertility. It's certainly the season to honor all mothers. Demeter's position -- goddess of agriculture and mama of Persephone -- is part of an ancient myth based on the Elusian Mysteries -- which may be revealed tonight -- and which make up Enchanted Moon Company's performance piece Mysteries of Demeter. "It's about the spiritual roots of women," says one of the producers of the event, FIU adjunct professor Maria Poviones-Bishop. The show combines age-old "mystery rites" with elements of the modern women's movement in a "liturgical drama" featuring dance, music, and spoken word performed by members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami (7701 SW 76th Ave.). An intergenerational performance, Mysteries includes a wide spectrum -- from Poviones-Bishop's infant daughter to other actors "close to 80 years old." The $10 admission fee will benefit the congregation and the Haitian Women's Relief Fund. Showtime is 8:00 at the sanctuary. Call 305-667-3697. -- By Anne Tschida
Though a belly dancer undulates her body in infinite ways, it is the eyes that harness the power of the dance. If you look beyond the turns, the fabulous hip shakes, the torso gyrations that bring to mind Oster blenders, you'll see the seduction of the dance is all in the peepers. Middle Eastern dance choreographer and performer Virginia Mendez (below) knows this. This evening she and her ensemble will present a variety of dances from throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. Adorned with colorful costumes and beaded scarves, the troupe will be shaking and quaking in the styles of Egypt, Lebanon, and the Persian Gulf. What's more, Mendez and her dancers will put a contemporary spin on the traditional dances. Remember to keep your eyes on their ojos. The show, described by Mendez as a "journey through the mysterious and compelling world of Middle Eastern dance," is part of the Performing Arts Network's performance series. Mendez and company take the stage at 7:00 p.m. at Performing Arts Network Studio, 13126 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami. Tickets cost $12. Call 305-899-7730. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez