Beat Kaestli: Brazil Meets Jazz

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Beat Kaestli

Brazil Meets Jazz

St. Peter’s Church, NYC, August 15, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Beat Kaestli

As part of Ronny Whyte’s wonderful Midday Jazz series, Swiss-American jazz vocalist Beat (pronounced “Bay-at”) Kaestli brought his charm and tales of his visits to Brazil, as well as his sizable musical ability, to St. Peter’s Church. Backed by the unusual combination of piano (Ben Stivers) and accordion (Vitor Gonçalves), the singer offered an unusual mix of Antônio Carlos Jobim and Cole Porter.

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Thanks to the singer’s smooth delivery, this all meshed into a pleasurable afternoon.

The Porter part of the program featured such ballads as “So in Love” (to a Brazilian beat), a heartfelt “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” and the more joyful “From This Moment On.
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” Kaestli has an interesting tick in that he “plays” the hand-held microphone as if it were a musical instrument, shifting it closer to his mouth to control the volume and intensity of his delivery.

The Jobim portion of the afternoon included a deliciously energetic opening of “No More Blues” with lyrics by Jon Hendricks, followed later by an emotionally outstanding duet of “How Insensitive” with Kaestli singing in English (lyrics: Norman Gimbel) and Gonçalves in Portuguese (lyrics: Vinícius de Moraes). Inventive fun arose out of “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” (lyrics: Gene Lees) in an arrangement conceived for drums and bass, and here offered without either of the instruments but lots of clever improvisation by all concerned.

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In between the music were tales of international travel, especially in Brazil where Kaestli was befriended by one of the biggest jazz vocalists in that country who, he discovered, was actually from Long Island. Such amusing twists added a delightful patina to the afternoon.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."