Saturday Nights at Gonsalves Mansion… Les Menezes

Saturday night, Gonsalves Mansion, Campal, a hundred plus keen Jazz lovers seated in a long Portuguese-style veranda fronting the home. Fairy tale lights, Hi-tech sound system. Jazz Goa sizzled from 8 pm to 2 am with Jazzy Joe, 77, the ace saxophonist from Mumbai, and a talented assortment of Goan and visiting jazz artists.

Five youngsters – Nikhil and Nathan (violins) Sahil, Nigel and Rukhma (keyboards) launched the evening with “The Wooden Heart” and “Undir mohje mama”.

Les: You conducted a workshop this morning for the kids?

Jazzy Joe: Yeah. Youngsters are the future of music. I would like to share my love for music making. I had fun helping 7 kids aged 9 to 15 experiment with different tunes.

Jimmy Firdaus sang Autumn Leaves and Quando, Quando and Jimmy Arthur (British)
sang Hello Dolly. The sonorous full-throated voices wrapped the old favourites
with an engaging glow while the accompanying musicians demonstrated unrehearsed,
spontaneous, creativity painting the old melodies with glorious sonic colours.
Mac Dourado entertained the audience immersing them into the world of jazz with
his remarkable tonal flexibility of his voice and skatting.

Veeam Braganza, aged 17, was a show stopper. Her Konkani jazz was channeled into
experimentation with skatting and exciting delivery by Joe. She lived the music, her rich voice quality and range captivating the audience into not letting her go.

Helen Jones (British) was on fire throughout, involving her audience completely with her awesome emotional intensity and power.

Belinda Olivera (from USA) visiting her parents, charmed with her special brand of warmth.

The highlight of the evening -“Take 5” with “Take 4” incorporated was a feast of tonalities, rhythms and moods, gripping the audience for over an hour with its inventiveness. Dennis Coelho took his drum solo to a peak. Anthony Fernandes, the guitarist, pulsated with a brilliant solo. Lester Godinho’s solo with castanets and bongo was a visual and aural delight. George Fernandes’s playing was simply wonderful. He coaxed the most incredible sounds from the keyboard – always just right for each moment. And Jazzy Joe was the inspiring force throughout. The flaring bursts, the gentle melodic weaving, the deep-throated sounds, the cascading runs created the central focus. He inspired everyone to showcase their special talents.

Les: Goa is honoured to have you with us.

Jazzy Joe: This was an opportunity for me to experience the incredible Goan jazz musicians. I was hesitating to come and planned to leave early. But the creativity, friendliness, warmth, responsiveness and musicianship was so incredible that I stayed till the very end. I have to come back for more. Goa is musically rich.

Les: How do you manage to keep blowing the saxophone and to inject so much enthusiasm, spirit, energy into your playing and into everyone around you?

Jazzy Joe: Music is the soul of man. All the musicians I played with tonight were outstanding. Their creativity, spontaneity and mastery was equal to the best jazz players in the world. They energized me.

Jason and Sylvia danced impeccably to “Besame Mucho” demonstrating poise and elegance. Jazzy Joe then challenged them with a fluid merger of tunes with constantly changing rhythms and styles. The musicians and Jason and Sylvia responded with ingenious improvisations. The fun, the brotherhood, the sharing was infectious.

The evening was charged with the Jazzy Joe’s interminable energy, inspiration and personal magic and the total surrender of everyone to enjoying music.

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