There are quite lofty aspirations apparent in naming a concert Bossa Nova: Celebrating the First 50 Years. Anyone other than sensitive, crafty guitarist/bandleader/host Oscar Castro-Neves would be hard-pressed to pull it off. Castro-Neves, the breeze in this concert's sails, is the type of veteran acoustic guitarist who draws beautiful sounds from the instrument the second it touches his hand. His is the genuine Brazilian strumming on the early Sixties bossa-jazz records of pianist Vince Guaraldi, and on several sweet Sergio Mendes excursions. More recently, when leading ensembles, Castro-Neves has ventured into Afro-Brazilian, modern jazz fusion, and even rock-beat-driven Tropicâlia. His varied, grand body of work affords the 68-year-old Castro-Neves access to and influence on the best in bossa nova, bossa fusions, and any number of styles on the periphery.
Just look at who's providing ballast for this Castro-Neves show. With scars and laurels earned in 35 years of touring, and a discography of more than 30 albums, singer/composer Ivan Lins won't allow any phony, bossa-beat clock-watching on the Arsht stage. Contrasting Castro-Neves's refined, gentle touches, Lins once performed a full concert while fighting a virus that all but incapacitated his vocal chords. As his group played, he simply whistled the melodies and mumbled whatever words he could get out.
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Elias, for her part, pilots this all-star bossa vessel. The hard-bop pianist, sometimes marketed as a Brazilian pop artist, is actually quite savvy with works by Monk, Yardbird, and 'Trane, as well as with Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, and Ivan Lins.