The story behind Torben Westergaard’s Jazz Brazil 2022
Luckily, I have had the great fortune to be near Brazilian popular music for almost forty years of my musical life as a professional musician. The journey started started at around age 20 on a Vallekilde summer course with pianist Guilherme Vergueiro as a teacher. After that, I moved on to music school in Los Angeles in 1984, where I briefly joined a band led by percussionist Laudir de Oliveira, and in the mideighties, I went to Brazil for the first time to tour with drummer Magno Bissoli. Later on, moving to New York, where I spent close to six years, I luckily got to play a lot with the great Portinho on drums including recording my second release Brazilian Heart. And in addition to that Dom Um Romao, Romeo Lubambo, Manfredo Fest, Hermeto Pascoal, Helio Alves, and auditioning for pianist Tania Marias band. Later, when I returned to Denmark, the Brazilian adventure continued with the great singer Silvana Malta and drummer Afonso Corrêa. We had great luck having legendary percussionist Airto Moreira and guitarist Toninho Horta as guests on a few tours through her band.
Getting back to Helio Alves, who is visiting us for this tour and recording in April 2022, he and I have spent a lot of time together touring with german harmonica virtuoso Hendrik Meurkesn. Therefore I am delighted to reunite with him again for this special occasion!
Getting back to Helio Alves, who is visiting us for this tour, he and I have spent a lot of time together touring with german harmonica virtuoso Hendrik Meurkesn. Therefore I am delighted to reunite with him again for this special occasion!
The same goes for dear old friends Hans Ulrik, sax, and Jonas Johansen, drums. I have known and played with these brilliant musicians on and off since the late and early eighties.
And why is it that Brazilian music is so compatible and attractive to jazz players? Because it contains a very sophisticated approach to harmonies and rhythms like jazz does.
Please come and hear us play on this tour, and we will do our humble best to demonstrate this aspect for you!
Special guest Helio Alves (BRA) – piano
A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, pianist Helio Alves combines the rhythmic complexity of modern Brazilian music with the edgy energy of contemporary jazz. A resident of NYC, Alves has received high praise as an in-demand sideman with Joe Henderson, Yo-Yo Ma, Slide Hampton, Paquito D’Rivera, Airto Moreira, and Flora Purim.
Helio was nominated for a Grammy with the album “Forests”, by the “Brazilian Trio”, a group he co-leads with bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka da Fonseca. He has released four albums under his name: “Trios” (1998), “Portrait in Black & White” (2004), “It’s Clear” (2009), and most recently, “Musica”
featuring Antonio Sanchez, Reuben Rogers, Claudio Roditi, and Romero Lubambo.
Together with musical partner Maucha Adnet, Helio has released the piano-voice album “Milagre” on Zoho Music (2013).
Hans Ulrik (DK) – sax
is a Danish jazz saxophonist and composer who has recorded with Gary Peacock, Adam Nussbaum, Niels Lan Doky, Audun Kleive, Marilyn Mazur, John Scofield, and Steve Swallow.
Hans studied jazz saxophone at Berklee College of Music in Boston (1984–86). He continued his studies after a visit in New York City (1986) until 1987.
In addition to various Danish jazz awards, Ulrik has received the recognition of the European Jazz Competition in Leverkusen 1988, the prize for best soloist and 1990. Third prize at the Jazz Festival in Rome. In 2002 he undertook a tour of China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Australia. In 2005 he joined Steve Swallow at the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Hans Ulrik is currently a member of DR Bigbandet.
Jonas Johansen (DK) – drums
is a true orchestral drummer, with a universal sound developed through 35 years of top-level performances and close to 200 albums. Jonas’ special gift always delivers the extra touch that lifts the music. His personal and international sound is rooted in his deep knowledge of the jazz tradition and his ability to incorporate inspiration from Latin America, Turkey, Spain, Africa, and India fluently. Jonas played with Danish Radio Big Band 1990 – 1999, NHØP trio with Ulf Wakenius 1996 – 2005, and stars like Enrico Pieranunzi, Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson, Steve Swallow, Mike Stern, Renee Rosnes, Egberto Gismonti, Toninho Horta, Airto Moreira, John Taylor, McCoy Tyner, John Scofield, Joe Henderson, Vince Mendoza, Tom Harrell, Jon Balke, Chris Minh Doky, Joyce Moreno and Kala Ramnath. Frequently used Big Band drummer with experience from a.o. Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, Norbotten Big Band, WDR Big Band, HR Big Band and NDR Big Band. Jonas is also an active bandleader in groups like MOVE (modern jazz), Blanco y Negro (Global Jazz), Tin Pan Aliens with Steve Swallow, Jazz Explorer Trio with Lars Møller and Thor Madsen, CharmCatcher and Rosalia De Souza/Jonas Johansen Brazilian Project. Jonas has released 14 albums under his name.