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Ocasa - Ocasa, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 09/05/2017. Rating: 3 out of 5 An enjoyable evening of music making from four musicians with a thorough knowledge and understanding of Portuguese and Brazilian music styles.

Ocaso, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 09/05/2017.

Ocaso is a bossa nova quartet based in Cardiff featuring Ines Castillo (vocals), Pedro Asencio (keyboards, guitar), Matheus Prado (electric bass, cavaquinho,cuica) and Mark O’ Connor (drums, percussion).

The seeds for tonight’s event were sown in August 2016 at the inaugural Brecon Jazz Weekend when Asencio played keyboards as part of the band at the “Tina May Sings The Music Of Brazil” event. Brecon Jazz Club co-ordinators Lynne Gornall and Roger Cannon were so impressed by his contribution and suggested that he bring his own band to Brecon as part of the regular club programme.

Despite the international line up the members of Ocaso (the band name means “sunset” in Portuguese) all have strong links to the city of Cardiff and specifically the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Peruvian born Asencio lived in Portugal before graduating from the RWCMD and settling in Cardiff. Vocalist Castillo, originally from Portugal, is currently an undergraduate on the College’s celebrated Jazz Course. Born in Brazil the slightly older Prado is studying for a Masters while O’Connor, a long term stalwart of the Welsh jazz scene, teaches at the RWCMD.

With three of the band members having strong ties with Portugal and Brazil it was perhaps inevitable that the programme would be centred around the music of Brazil and specifically the bossa nova style. Prado is a considerable authority on the music of his native land and was able to provide the audience with many informative insights into the music as the evening progressed.

I’m indebted to Ines for providing me with a copy of the set list when we chatted after the show – my Portuguese wouldn’t have been up to providing the song titles otherwise!

On a balmy early summer evening in Wales the sunny sounds of Brazil were a perfect match for the beautiful weather outside. The opening “Tristeza”, written by Haroldo Lobo, sounded anything but sad with Asencio and Prado adding backing vocals and Asencio soloing on his Nord2 electric keyboard.

Joao Gilberto’s “Saudade Fez um Samba” featured solos from both Asencio on piano and Prado on electric bass but the performance emphasised the fact that Castillo’s vocals were too low in the mix, a problem that persisted throughout the first set.

Also by Gilberto “Falsa Baiana” saw a change in instrumentation with Asencio moving to acoustic guitar and Prado to cavaquinho as O’Connor picked up a tambourine to provide simple percussive accompaniment. The acoustic setting ensured that Castillo’s voice became more prominent, making this the most effective number thus far.

Djavan’s “Capim” marked a return to keyboards and electric bass with both Asencio and Prado featuring as soloists . However Tom Jobim’s “Eu e meu amor” (or Me & My Love) saw Asencio moving back to guitar once more as Prado doubled on bass and cuica.

With O’Connor maintaining a relatively low key presence the main instrumental soloists were Asencio and Prado who impressed on keyboards and electric bass respectively on an arrangement of Egberto Gismonti’s “Loro”, a song from the North East of Brazil.

Castillo sang in Portuguese almost throughout and again sounded at her best on the acoustic “Coracao Em Desalinho” with guitar, cavaquinho and tambourine accompaniment.

A liquid passage of unaccompanied electric bass ushered in the familiar melody of Jobim’s “Corcovado” (or “Quiet Night”) which was segued with a second Jobim song “Carta ao Tom”.
This item featured the hereto unheard combination of acoustic guitar and electric bass with Prado the featured soloist.

A breezy rendition of the Maria Rita song “Num Corpo So” completed a first half that had been pleasant enough but which had been marred by the unsatisfactory sound balance. In mitigation a traffic accident on the A470 had delayed the band’s arrival and remedial measures were taken during the interval, ensuring that the second set was far more enjoyable.

Ocasa departed dramatically from the set list during the second half thereby making a song by song account impossible. Things commenced with an instrumental featuring guitar, cavaquinho and tambourine. Introducing the piece Prado explained how the tiny four string cavaquinho had been taken from Portugal to Brazil. Portuguese explorers also took the instrument to Hawaii where it became known as the ukulele. Cavaquinho players tend to favour guitar strings and use a pick, making for a substantially different sound. I, for one, was fascinated by this history.

Castillo sounded so much better after the break and visibly grew in confidence. Jobim’s “No More Blues” was sung with the Portuguese lyric and Vinicius Morais’ “Berimbau” was a joyous celebration of Brazil and its music.

Castillo mixed English and Portuguese on Jobim’s “Triste”, another tune familiar to UK audiences.
At the request of Lynne Gornall the quartet also performed the jazz standard “There Will Never Be Another You”, albeit with a jaunty bossa style arrangement. Scat vocals combined with an electric piano solo and a neatly structured drum feature from O’Connor. The audience loved it.

Elsewhere we heard another languid bossa, the title of which escaped me, and a song outlining the history of Brazil – into which the band managed to squeeze an extract from Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”.

There was even time for an encore featuring Asencio on guitar and Prado on electric bass. Like vocalist Castillo Prado sounded so much better in the second set with the distortion that had effected his solos in the first half now pleasingly absent.

All in all this was an enjoyable evening of music making from four musicians with a thorough knowledge and understanding of Portuguese and Brazilian music styles. The band’s arrangements of these Brazilian classics were interesting and imaginative and largely cliché free. It’s not difficult to see why they are such an in demand attraction on the South Wales jazz circuit.

Had the sound balance been perfect from the start tonight’s event would have been even better. 


Ocasa, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 09/05/2017.

Ocasa

Friday, May 12, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

3 out of 5

Ocasa, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 09/05/2017.
Photography: Photograph of Ines Castillo sourced from the Brecon Jazz Club website http://www.breconjazzclub.org

An enjoyable evening of music making from four musicians with a thorough knowledge and understanding of Portuguese and Brazilian music styles.

Ocaso, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 09/05/2017.

Ocaso is a bossa nova quartet based in Cardiff featuring Ines Castillo (vocals), Pedro Asencio (keyboards, guitar), Matheus Prado (electric bass, cavaquinho,cuica) and Mark O’ Connor (drums, percussion).

The seeds for tonight’s event were sown in August 2016 at the inaugural Brecon Jazz Weekend when Asencio played keyboards as part of the band at the “Tina May Sings The Music Of Brazil” event. Brecon Jazz Club co-ordinators Lynne Gornall and Roger Cannon were so impressed by his contribution and suggested that he bring his own band to Brecon as part of the regular club programme.

Despite the international line up the members of Ocaso (the band name means “sunset” in Portuguese) all have strong links to the city of Cardiff and specifically the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Peruvian born Asencio lived in Portugal before graduating from the RWCMD and settling in Cardiff. Vocalist Castillo, originally from Portugal, is currently an undergraduate on the College’s celebrated Jazz Course. Born in Brazil the slightly older Prado is studying for a Masters while O’Connor, a long term stalwart of the Welsh jazz scene, teaches at the RWCMD.

With three of the band members having strong ties with Portugal and Brazil it was perhaps inevitable that the programme would be centred around the music of Brazil and specifically the bossa nova style. Prado is a considerable authority on the music of his native land and was able to provide the audience with many informative insights into the music as the evening progressed.

I’m indebted to Ines for providing me with a copy of the set list when we chatted after the show – my Portuguese wouldn’t have been up to providing the song titles otherwise!

On a balmy early summer evening in Wales the sunny sounds of Brazil were a perfect match for the beautiful weather outside. The opening “Tristeza”, written by Haroldo Lobo, sounded anything but sad with Asencio and Prado adding backing vocals and Asencio soloing on his Nord2 electric keyboard.

Joao Gilberto’s “Saudade Fez um Samba” featured solos from both Asencio on piano and Prado on electric bass but the performance emphasised the fact that Castillo’s vocals were too low in the mix, a problem that persisted throughout the first set.

Also by Gilberto “Falsa Baiana” saw a change in instrumentation with Asencio moving to acoustic guitar and Prado to cavaquinho as O’Connor picked up a tambourine to provide simple percussive accompaniment. The acoustic setting ensured that Castillo’s voice became more prominent, making this the most effective number thus far.

Djavan’s “Capim” marked a return to keyboards and electric bass with both Asencio and Prado featuring as soloists . However Tom Jobim’s “Eu e meu amor” (or Me & My Love) saw Asencio moving back to guitar once more as Prado doubled on bass and cuica.

With O’Connor maintaining a relatively low key presence the main instrumental soloists were Asencio and Prado who impressed on keyboards and electric bass respectively on an arrangement of Egberto Gismonti’s “Loro”, a song from the North East of Brazil.

Castillo sang in Portuguese almost throughout and again sounded at her best on the acoustic “Coracao Em Desalinho” with guitar, cavaquinho and tambourine accompaniment.

A liquid passage of unaccompanied electric bass ushered in the familiar melody of Jobim’s “Corcovado” (or “Quiet Night”) which was segued with a second Jobim song “Carta ao Tom”.
This item featured the hereto unheard combination of acoustic guitar and electric bass with Prado the featured soloist.

A breezy rendition of the Maria Rita song “Num Corpo So” completed a first half that had been pleasant enough but which had been marred by the unsatisfactory sound balance. In mitigation a traffic accident on the A470 had delayed the band’s arrival and remedial measures were taken during the interval, ensuring that the second set was far more enjoyable.

Ocasa departed dramatically from the set list during the second half thereby making a song by song account impossible. Things commenced with an instrumental featuring guitar, cavaquinho and tambourine. Introducing the piece Prado explained how the tiny four string cavaquinho had been taken from Portugal to Brazil. Portuguese explorers also took the instrument to Hawaii where it became known as the ukulele. Cavaquinho players tend to favour guitar strings and use a pick, making for a substantially different sound. I, for one, was fascinated by this history.

Castillo sounded so much better after the break and visibly grew in confidence. Jobim’s “No More Blues” was sung with the Portuguese lyric and Vinicius Morais’ “Berimbau” was a joyous celebration of Brazil and its music.

Castillo mixed English and Portuguese on Jobim’s “Triste”, another tune familiar to UK audiences.
At the request of Lynne Gornall the quartet also performed the jazz standard “There Will Never Be Another You”, albeit with a jaunty bossa style arrangement. Scat vocals combined with an electric piano solo and a neatly structured drum feature from O’Connor. The audience loved it.

Elsewhere we heard another languid bossa, the title of which escaped me, and a song outlining the history of Brazil – into which the band managed to squeeze an extract from Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”.

There was even time for an encore featuring Asencio on guitar and Prado on electric bass. Like vocalist Castillo Prado sounded so much better in the second set with the distortion that had effected his solos in the first half now pleasingly absent.

All in all this was an enjoyable evening of music making from four musicians with a thorough knowledge and understanding of Portuguese and Brazilian music styles. The band’s arrangements of these Brazilian classics were interesting and imaginative and largely cliché free. It’s not difficult to see why they are such an in demand attraction on the South Wales jazz circuit.

Had the sound balance been perfect from the start tonight’s event would have been even better. 



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