João Donato: new versions of old hits

Tárik de Souza
João Donato is the piano itself. Or music in a human form. As a sonic Midas, everything that he plays is literally musical. During his concert at the Free Jazz Festival, scheduled between Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés and jazz bassist Ray Brown, he reviewed some of his own classics, without ever sliding into nostalgia. This is another trademark of a peculiar artist. If he goes over the same repertoire 50 times, there will be 50 different versions of the themes, inlaid with citations that might pop up in his mind right there and then. Utilizing dissonant chords and intervals with a Thelonious Monk approach, he re-writes the rhythmic phrasings with a swing that goes from bossa to salsa and jazz. Performing a single number not written by him – the bucolic Paradise Found, by his idol, jazz trumpeter Shorty Rogers (1924-1994) -, Donato delivered his Amazonas, A Rã, Tema Teimoso, Bluchanga, Lugar Comum and Nasci para Bailar. Leading a trio with Claudio Slon on the drums and Luis Alves on the bass, Donato proves that it’s no use striking a pose to shine among big stars. The internal genius light bulb is enough.