Hermeto Pascoal was different from the start. Born with albinism in northeastern Brazil, at a time where the region had no electricity, he was unable to work in the fields like the rest of his family. Instead, he remained indoors, hidden from the scorching heat, and played on his father’s accordion. Now, as one of the world’s pre-eminent multi-instrumentalist avant-gardists and a symbol of Brazilian music, Pascoal is an octogenarian master with nothing left to prove.
Still touring regularly, he is joined here at the Jazz à Vienne festival by his son, Fabio, on percussion, Ajurinā and Itiberê Zwarg on drums and bass/ vocals respectively, André Marques on piano and Jota P. on saxophone. There are moments in the concert where several musicians down tools and pick up flutes and all are versatile and free, ready to follow where Hermeto leads. The repertoire includes several original compositions, as well as nods to other great jazzmen including Thelonious Monk via “Round Midnight,” Ron Carter, Chick Corea and Brazilian legends such as Edu Lobo, an artist Hermeto played with at the beginning of his career in the mid-60s.