andré santos and MARIA JOÃO at scat jazz club - funchal, madeira, portugal, jan 7

  • photography by Clara Pereira / text by Filipe Freitas

We have chosen our hometown: Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal, to do the first concert coverage of 2017.
Despite the cool maritime breeze outdoors, the comfortable SCAT Funchal Jazz Club was warmed by the categorical voice of Maria João and the intelligible guitar strumming of André Santos.
The Portuguese duo, influenced by a mix of Brazilian, Portuguese and African music, fascinated the audience through a musical buffet of spicy flavors.

They kicked in with a successful combination of Jobim’s “Girl from Ipanema” and Jorge Benjor’s “Mas Que Nada”. Bursting with rhythmic contractions and often percussive, the voice of Maria João resounded with all its force, always well supported by the suaveness of Santos’s comping.
The Brazilian mood gained even more preponderance with laudable renditions of Guinga’s “Cata Vento e Girassol”, “Côco de Côco”, and “Contenda”, Toquinho/Vinicius’s “Canto de Ossanha”, and the magnificent “Beatriz”, an original by Milton Nascimento, which didn’t lose a bit of impact when compared with the piano-version popularized a few years ago by Maria João and the pianist Mário Laginha.

Besides the jazz standards, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” and “Skylark”, the latter played in the encore, the repertoire included originals by Maria João and João Farinha – “Má é do Bom”, inspired on the Brazilian drama Elite Squad and suggestively headed by Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, and “Fome”, which was subjected to a sagacious arrangement. Santos also debuted a new tune of his, still with no title, coupled to “Blackbird” by The Beatles.

In addition to the individual talent, competence, and musical diversity, the duo’s rapport was crucial to make this performance memorable.
Never bored, it was easy for me to ascertain that Maria João owns a limitless expressiveness while André Santos is an emergent guitarist whose boldness deserves to be followed closely.