Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra to celebrate the sounds of Brazil
For some in the Christian faith, the Carnival season offers a chance to let loose ahead of Lent.
The celebration is also known as Mardi Gras, but under any name, it’s all about revelry and merriment.
“What the celebration is all about, and what the music is all about, is celebrating freedom and liberation and partying it up just before everybody needs to be on their best behavior to make sacrifices for the duration of Lent,” said Columbus vocalist Rachel Sepulveda, who will perform with Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra in a concert next Monday at the Clintonville Woman’s Club.
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Not that anything will get too out of hand during Monday’s concert: The music will be the star of the show. (Non-alcoholic beverages and snacks will be available, but those wishing to enjoy alcoholic drinks must bring their own.)
Under the direction of Columbus jazz legend Wiester, the orchestra will perform music by Brazilian artists associated with the bossa nova style of music.
“Bossa nova got started in Rio de Janeiro in about 1957, and it took about five years to take hold in North America,” Wiester said. “Around ’61 or ’62, Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto had that hit with ‘The Girl from Ipanema,’ which jump-started the North American interest in bossa nova. The worldwide interest was jump-started by a movie in 1959 that was produced in Rio called ‘Black Orpheus.’”
Composers represented in the program will include Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sergio Mendes.
“That music is the pure essence of joy,” Sepulveda said.
The songs will be sung in Portuguese, a language unique for its musicality.
“I have sung in probably six different languages,” Sepulveda said. “But of all the languages, Portuguese is by far the most rhythmic. It’s amazing to me how the language mimics the percussive instruments.”
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Among the most ardent fans of music from Brazil is Sepulveda’s fellow vocalist on Monday, Kelly Delaveris.
The daughter of the late Channel 4 sportscaster Jimmy Crum and a longtime Columbus vocalist who returned to the area in 2021 after about a decade in York, Pennsylvania, Delaveris was introduced to Brazilian music by her parents.
“My mom and dad were big Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 fans, (and) they spun records on the hi-fi,” said Delaveris, who began performing with the group Brasileira in 1996.
“I love to sing Portuguese,” she said. “You make a lot of sounds in the front of your mouth. It’s very different from English. English is kind of right down in the middle of your head, and Portuguese happens a lot right at the front of your mouth. I like that.”
Although her singing may suggest she is fluent in Portuguese, Delaveris doesn’t actually speak the language.
“Sometimes, I’ll know the gist of a tune or I’ll know a few phrases or a few words,” she said.
Wiester is full of praise for both vocalists.
About Delaveris, he said, “I would say it’s fair to say she’s the primary exponent of Brazilian music in Columbus.”
And he called Sepulveda “an extraordinary talent.”
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For the orchestra, too, the music is a welcome departure from their usual repertoire (which they have performed each Monday night at the Clintonville Woman’s Club since 2014, with the exception of a two-year pandemic pause).
“The core sound of the band is ’50s big band jazz, as characterized by Count Basie, Stan Kenton (and) Woody Herman,” Wiester said. “We’re not strict with that, but that’s the basic sound of the band.”
For this program of Brazilian music, however, the band’s 22 members will perform in a different idiom, too — one they don’t get to try out except during a certain time of year.
“I’ve got a large library of printed music and recorded music from Brazilian artists,” Wiester said. “Once a year, there’s an excuse to do a show, which is, of course, the week of Carnival.”
At a glance
Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra and vocalists Kelly Delaveris and Rachel Sepulveda will perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Clintonville Woman’s Club, 3951 N. High St. Tickets cost $15, or $10 for students (cash only at the door). For more information, visit famousjazzorchestra.com.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra to play Brazilian music Feb. 20