One of the biggest stars of Brazilian jazz, Amaro Freitas, performs right here at Band on the Wall.
In the North-Eastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco lies the coastal city of Recife, where Amaro Freitas began pioneering a new sound of Brazilian jazz. For the prodigious young pianist, the spirit of his hometown runs deep. From the Afro-Brazilian maracatu born on the sugar plantations of slavery, to the high intensity carnival rhythms of frevo and baião, Amaro’s heavily percussive approach to jazz is as indebted to these Pernambuco traditions as it is to Coltrane, Parker and Monk.
As with many of the greats before him, Amaro began playing piano in church aged 12, under the instruction of his father, leader of the church band. As his natural talents became obvious, the young prodigy quickly outgrew his father’s instruction. He won a place at the prestigious Conservatório Pernambucano de Música but had to drop out as his family could not spare the money for the bus fare. Undeterred, Amaro gigged in bands at weddings and worked in a call centre to fund his tuition. The transformative moment came at age 15 when Amaro stumbled across a DVD of a Chick Corea concert, “he completely blew my mind, I’d never seen anything like it but I knew that’s what I wanted to do with a piano”.
Despite not actually owning a piano, Amaro devoted himself to studying day and night – he would practice on imaginary keys in his bedroom, until eventually striking a deal with a local restaurant to practice before opening hours. By the age of 22 Amaro was one of the most sought-after musicians in Recife and resident pianist at the legendary jazz bar Mingus. It was during this time he met and began collaborating with bassist Jean Elton and the pair went in search of a drummer. “We kept hearing about this crazy kid who was playing in 7/8 or 6/4, we knew we had to meet him”. Hugo Medeiros joined, and the Amaro Freitas Trio was born.
His self-released debut album Sangue Negro (2016) traversed minimalism, bebop, afrojazz, samba, and frevo and saw Amaro take his home counrty by storm. As well as rave reviews in Brazilian press, the album caught the attention of fellow Brazilian icon Ed Motta who began telling the world about this new North-Eastern talent: “Amaro Freitas is writing a very important chapter of instrumental music produced in Brazil. Lots of hope and challenging, progressive art. Great respect.” – Ed Motta
Soon after, UK label Far Out Recordings signed the Amaro Freitas Trio and Rasif (2018) arrived on a wave of critical acclaim. A colloquial spelling of Amaro’s home town Rasif was Amaro’s love letter to his native northeast. Exploring its traditional rhythms through the jazz idiom and employing complex mathematical patterns reminiscent of some of the most challenging works by fellow Brazilian masters Hermeto Pascoal, Egberto Gismonti and Moacir Santos.
International tours followed with The Amaro Freitas Trio playing jazz clubs and concert halls including Ronnie Scott’s (UK), Bimhuis (NL), Dizzy’s Club @ Lincoln Centre (USA), Opus Jazz Club (HU), SESC Pompéia and Ibirapuera Auditorium (BR), Usina del Arte – Buenos Aires (ARG), Casa da Música (PT), as well as festivals such as: Buenos Aires Jazz Festival (ARG), Conexiones Festival (ES), Rio das Ostras Jazz and Blues (BR), Jazz at the Factory (BR), Bari in Jazz and Grado Jazz (IT), and many others.
In 2019 Amaro Freitas was one of six musicians selected to participate in the Montreux Jazz Academy with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, who said of Amaro: “when he sat at the piano time stopped. He played and played, each note growing, birthing new possibilities, stories within stories. The range of execution and emotive dynamism left me full of light.”
Amaro Freitas has also collaborated with one of Brazil’s biggest artists of all time, Milton Nascimento, on the collaborative EP ‘Existe Amor’ (2020), which also featured famed Brazilian rapper Criolo. In 2018 Amaro also collaborated with Grammy Award winning artist Lenine for his ‘Lenine em Trânsito’ project.
A standing show. On sale 10am 16th Sep.
Amaro Freitas is up there with Robert Glasper as one of the standout jazz pianists of the time.Sounds & Colours