Alexandre Cunha played with his band on Sunday at the Shanghai Jazz Festival and will be playing at Shanghai JZ Club in Shanghai tonight and Hangzhou JZ Club tomorrow. Alexandre plays drums, the rest of the band is: Marcelo on saxophone, Janice on piano, and Bruno on bass.
The interview began with Alexandre asking what coffee would be really really really strong, he was missing the Brazilian fresh coffee. But seems that was the only downer he had stored in himself, because the rest of the interview was all about the great experience they have been having since the very initial minute all begun, when Alexandre decided to google International Jazz Festival some months ago.
Layabozi: So, did you have fun? (playing on the Shanghai Jazz Festival)
Bruno: It was really fun and the first time we play for a large audience like that.
Alex: we usually play at jazz clubs, like JZ club, and the crowds are smaller, not big crowds like this one.
LYBZ: Is the first time you have played outside Brazil?
Alex: with this band yes. I played in Germany for 3 years.
LYBZ: So how did you find the audience? I heard it seemed a little quieter than what you’re used to.
Bruno: Not really. I didn’t find it strange that the people were quiet. For me it was ok, because I think Brazilian songs are very different and I think they enjoyed it. The songs are not really for dancing, so it’s ok.
LYBZ: Do you think the communication is different with depending on the audience? Like here maybe people don’t know how to dance the Samba, and don’t feel it the same way.
Alex: We care about being listened to..and in this way it was very nice.
LYBZ: Where do you come from?
Alex: from Sao Paulo all of us, But Marcelo even was born in Sao, he is mostly from Campinhas, a University Town near Sao. The University is famour for music studies, and Alex and Marcelo know each other from there.
LYBZ: How long has this version of the band been together?
Alex: Three years.
LYBZ: Do you play different kinds of music, in other bands?
Alex: We all play some other things and Janice also manages a Jazz Club.
Bruno: I play in rock bands also. In Brazil is a lot of work, but you have to be able to do many different things. If you only do one thing, maybe it’s hard to make a living. Of course sometimes might play some music you don’t like, but usually the money is really good then. It’s like the worse the music is the more the money. Also the Brazilian government supports a lot of the music through many programs.
Alex: There aren’t too many people doing the work they want, so we are very lucky that we are doing what we want.
LYBZ: What music from Brazil would you recommend to us?
Bruno: (opening the eyes and the arms) There’s so much! you know, Tom Jobim, Don Bosco, Gilberto Gil, Black Rio, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque…
Marcelo: And choro, going further back, an old kind of Brazilian music.
LYBZ: Is there a lot of Choro going on now in Brazil? Do you play it ever?
Marcelo: In some places they have it, like Sao Paulo, but not everywhere.
Bruno: Pixinguinha did a very modern version of it that’s very good.
Alex: For example, traditionally choro doesn’t have drums, but we do it in a modern way.
LYBZ: So do you have any idea as to why Brazilian music is so rich?
Bruno: If you are there… there is the south, the north, sao, rio… if you go to different places in Brazil, everywhere has it’s own sound. If we go to the north we won’t play very well, because they were born there, they’ve been playing it their whole lives.
Alex: We can’t play the northern music like they do.
LYBZ: When you think about Brazil, it’s definitely music…and football.
Alex: None of us plays football. Bruno a little bit.
Bruno: Maybe better than the average Chinese person.
Alex: Janice is the best player.
Alex: Also, about Brazilian music, I think harmony is very different from the rest of the world, and the melody… there are many amazing melodies and rhythms.
Bruno: And it’s happy music! Sometimes people confuses Latin music, like salsa with samba. Salsa is not samba, and when we go out and play with American musicians the music is kind of a mix salsa and samba.
Alex: And when we play jazz, maybe they …
Bruno: No no, not maybe. Of course they think the same thing about us. (laughing)
Alex: Anyway… we are trying to play jazz
LYBZ: How did you get the gig at the jazz festival?
Alex: I was looking on the Internet for big festivals around the world and found this one. I thought, Shanghai, why not? I sent them out information and they asked us to come. There were articles, nice things about on www.allaboutjazz.com and I think that helped.
Janice: He takes care of everything: arranges for the concert, the flight, everything, but then when he gets here, he’s always forgetting things.
Bruno: Like the set list. He brought us all the way here and then he forgets the set list! He’s on stage saying “what’s next?”
Alex: That’s just the way I am. There’s a story my friends like to tell about me. One day, it was a little cold and I was going to my girlfriend’s house, and I was wearing a tee shirt, so I put a sweater over my shoulders. I walked all the way to her house, and when I got there she opened the door and said, “why are your pants hanging over your shoulders?
Alex: It’s just the way I am.
LYBZ: What were your favorite bands among the others at the festival?
Bruno: Incognito. They’re one of my favorite bands, so it was great to be performing with them.
Alex: Also Heidi Krenn was really good. She improvised very well.
LYBZ: What are your plans for the future?
Alex: This year we have many concerts. Next week we begin again. Hopefully next year we’ll record a new album. We would love to go to more festivals like this.
LYBZ: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Something you’d like to tell people?
Alex: I just think tomorrow we can play better than at the festival.
Bruno: We had a problem with power during the second song, there were two cuts.
Alex: I think we will be more comfortable playing tomorrow at JZ.
LYBZ: what are you going to say about your trip when you get back home?
Alex: Everybody is so different, it’s crazy.
Marcelo: And fun.
Bruno: If you go out to buy water it’s amazing. Something will happen always, whatever you do.
Alex: and we are tourists here, so maybe it’s that
Bruno: Yeah I guess we look like tourists. I don’t know why. (taking a map out of his pocket)