A small but festive crowd enjoyed a night of Brazilian culture with Patty Ascher and the Marco Pontes Trio, who graced the Morgan Auditorium stage with the smooth sounds and vibrant beats of jazz and samba.
The world-traveling group is currently on a California five-university tour sponsored by the Brazilian Embassy. In their five years together, the band has performed for exclusive jazz venues such as Feinstein’s in Manhattan and Vitello’s Jazz & Supper Club in Studio City.
“I really liked the feeling the music had,” junior Olga Salvidar said. “It was really flirty and fun. I thought the jazz and samba was an interesting combination and I definitely enjoyed the entire show so I am glad I went.”
Although there was a small crowd, due to the concert falling on election night, the band put all of its energy in each song.
Ascher wowed the audience with her stunning range and ability to sing in four different languages including English, French, Spanish and her native Portuguese.
The pianist Marco Pontes kept the audience entertained with his lively and masterful skill. Bassist Leco Reis added complex and sexy undertones to the music and percussionist Lois de Paula had the audience clapping and marveling at his skills with unique instruments and whistles.
Between songs, Ascher shared stories with the audience and described how jazz and samba were both born at the same time in different parts of the world; The United States and Brazil.
She said the genres came together and created what is known as bossa nova, a Brazilian style of music that is now widely popular in the jazz world.
During the show Ascher was very animated, dancing across the stage and interacting with her band members. Several times she had the audience clapping, snapping and laughing. Throughout the concert, the dynamic between Ascher and Pontes was like two spirited and rambunctious siblings and it kept the show fun and entertaining.
“It’s all very real,” said Ascher. “We’re not faking. We all have so much fun together.”
The band played several original songs that Ascher and Pontes composed together as well as many jazz favorites including Billie Holiday’s “Speak Low.”
Some numbers were relaxing and smooth but the majority of the show was upbeat and fast.
Audience members, like Salvidar, thought there was never a boring moment and that it was especially exciting to hear Ascher switch back and forth between four languages.
When the Brazilian Embassy contacted Reed Gratz, professor of music, last spring, he said he could not pass up the opportunity to host Patty Ascher and the Marco Pontes Trio at La Verne.
“They are phenomenal,” Gratz said. “They are all world class players.”
In the future Gratz said he would like to see a larger turnout from students at the events the music department hosts throughout the year.
For more music from Patty Ascher, check out her most recent album, “Bossa, Jazz ‘N’ Samba.”
Katie Madden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.