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Jazz is often considered an American art form, but the musical genre has been enjoyed by music fans around the globe.
On Saturday evening, two Westchester jazz musicians will be performing the music of one of the world’s most eclectic practitioners at Bethany Arts Community in Ossining to celebrate the 11th annual International Jazz Day.
Mount Kisco saxophonist Daniel Blake and Yonkers percussionist Rogerio Baccato will be joined by keyboardist Vitor Goncalves to perform the music of legendary Brazilian jazz composer Hermeto Pascoal in a special performance.
“I’ve loved Hermeto Pascoal as long as I’ve been a jazz musician, basically, and I’ve never been able to do a program of his compositions, so I thought this might be an opportunity to try that,” Blake said. “There’s so much to love about that music, and we’ve brought in Vitor Goncalves who is a pianist and an accordionist who I think has played with Hermeto, so it feels really good to be able to bring these sounds up to Ossining.”
What makes Pascoal so special? Baccato, who as a native Brazilian has loved Pascoal’s music for decades, said his brilliance is incorporating all sorts of different sounds. In fact, he’s almost impossible to define because he uses various object to help create those sounds, Baccato said.
“As a musician, he’s a multi-instrumentalist that plays all the conventional instruments but also he plays, he makes music with things that aren’t considered instruments,” he said. “So, like a bottle full of water and his beard. Every sound is music, and he uses these (to) incorporate all the sounds into his music.”
He’s also a prolific composer, having been credited with between 4,000 and 5,000 works, according to Baccato. In 1996, he created “a calendar of sound,” where he wrote one piece a day every day for the entire year. The calendar includes comments about where he was and what he was thinking about when he created each composition.
Blake said he discovered Pascoal in college. He and some buddies were listening to a Miles Davis recording when someone urged them to listen to Pascoal’s track of “Selim.” It’s no coincidence that the title of the track is Miles spelled backward.
The ingenuity and experimentation are so unique it’s music like no other.
“He encapsulates everything that’s great about jazz music,” he said. “He has the potential to communicate across borders and also into the cosmos.”
Baccato said that over the years, the definition of jazz has changed. For American jazz enthusiasts, it has traditionally been looked as having a swing feel, but that no longer applies. Musicians in countries all over the globe create music that redefines what jazz has become.
Blake said he had looked forward to bringing a music program to Bethany Arts since he was involved in a ballet project at the venue. Bethany Arts Community is located in a portion of the Maryknoll site.
“There’s something about that space that inspires experimentation,” Blake said. “Those are my favorite places to play, to go and experience.
The performance space is a roughly 1,300-square-foot room in the original part of the building from the 1920s, said Abby Lewis, executive director of Bethany Arts. It has been outfitted with new sound and lighting and has an intimate feel that seats up to 75 people.
Lewis said the organization looks to present diverse forms of art, and wants to present more musical performances. This is the first time it will be commemorating International Jazz Day, she said.
“The community is really what defines Bethany, and so we are really looking for artists and musicians and other creatives in the community to propose to us projects that they’d like to do and figure out ways to do it,” Lewis said.
Audience members will have a chance to speak with the musicians as well as enjoy food and drink courtesy of Sing Sing Kill Brewery in Ossining.
The concert is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 each. Bethany Arts is located at 40 Somerstown Rd. in Ossining. For tickets and more information, visit www.bethanyarts.org.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/