Banda Mantiqueira

The Banda Mantiqueira are the best Brazilian big band, devoted to a particular synthesis of Brazilian instrumental music. Though they are always struggling with the expected hardships of a large group specializing in instrumental music surviving an adverse environment, the band had some recognition when their debut album was nominated for a Grammy as Best Latin Jazz Album. Saxophonist Nailor Azevedo (Proveta) and trumpeter Walmir Gil (who have been working together since around 1977) had already formed the bands Sambop Brass and Aquarius, but both dissolved before having a chance to record. In 1992, the two formed the Banda Mantiqueira, soon acknowledged as the best active big band in Brazil. From 1993 until its closing in 1999, the band performed every Monday at the Vou Vivendo in São Paulo. The experience of playing for a regular and faithful public at that bar reshaped the band's musical conception. Initially devoted to American jazz music by such artists as John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, their experience at the Vou Vivendo was instrumental in connecting the band with a conception of Brazilian instrumental music, and thus inspired their creation of arrangements similar to the music of Brazilian composers like Pixinguinha and Tom Jobim. The important contributions of bassist/arranger Edson Alves, who explores the melodic side of his arrangements, were also fundamental in the turnaround. Their first album, Aldeia (1996), was nominated for a Grammy the following year as Best Latin Jazz Album. Other performances worth mentioning were at the Kaiser Bock Festival (São Paulo 1997), the Free Jazz Festival (São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro, 1998), and the Festival de Inverno de Campos do Jordão (2000). The Banda Mantiqueira have also backed artists like Guinga and Eduardo Gudin in recordings and live performances. ~ Alvaro Neder

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