Concert Review: Maggie Gould and Nanny Assis at Freida Margolis, 26 June 2021

Maggie Gould and Nanny Assis Band – Kiwi and Brazil, Be-Bop piano and Monster bass, swinging on a Latin beat. The entanglement of time and space dropped Birdland New York (or French Quarter New Orleans) right into the hole-in-the-wall Freida Margolis in Auckland. Ye Olde Butcher Shop of the distant past

Nanny Assis is a celebrated multi-instrumental Jazz musician. Born in Bahia, Brazil, and living in New York City, his song-writing and vocal talent has been him accompanying the likes of Paul Simon as well as Lifetime Achievement awards in Brazilian Jazz. Sings, plays guitar, drums and percussion tonight. Sometimes all at once.

Maggie Gould & Nanny Assis BandMaggie Gould is an arresting Jazz singer from Auckland. Also seems to exist in parallel worlds. A photo-journalist to mega-celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney and Ray Charles. Present at the non-existent Tiananmen square protest. Plays at Jazz festivals here and around the world.

Add world class musicians like Kevin Field on piano and Alex Griffiths on bass, and you had one hell of a party goin’ on. The concluding show to a nation-wide tour which included the Wellington Jazz Festival.

The opening song Flor de Lis, I think. Disorientating to hear Latin Kiwi vocal tones from Gould. The closest I can describe her is to the spoken-singing style of Sinatra in his September years. As natural as breathing and hypnotic in a way. Subtleties and nuance are amplified. That also happens when Assis comes in on vocal harmony with a soft Latin tenor.

Michael Jackson classic I Can’t Help It. Smooth as velvet singing. With a Latin swing and the piano adds some Jazz with Soul. In counterpoint, the electric six-string bass gets introspective and sounds like an acoustic double bass.

Stevie Wonder co-wrote the above, and his Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) is done as a belter. A James Jamerson walking bass leads. Drums give off explosions right on time and does it JB’s style. Give the drummer some!

E Preciso Perdoar and bass personified leads. Nice swinging duet vocals with a Latin accent. The piano plays fast fills, harmonises with the singers and is ubiquitous. Every time we play this song.

Maggie Gould & Nanny Assis BandPaul McCartney’s Blackbird gets a stunning working over. Gould sings cool and precise. Fast and inventive Soul Jazz on piano. Sounds like two bass players and some Funk is laid down.

O Barquino. Not a care have we in my little boat. The piano floats, then skips across the water.

My heart a flower. Could be the title as well.  A Bossa Nova rhythm and whilst the drums pick this one up and lead, the Funk bass really gets loose and sinuous. Let your backbone slip.

Takes an interval before we get the friends and patrons up to shake and shimmy.

The band goes deep diving into older traditional Brazilian Roots music. Latin mixed with Afro-Beats and rhythms.

Assis sings, plays acoustic guitar and lays out the rhythm on the kick-drum simultaneously.  The songs have an earthy communal trance-dance feel, made light with Pop tones.

Silky smooth Portugese language vocals from Gould on Corcovado. With six strings and a big effects gadget box at his feet, Griffith lays out a guitar and a bass solo. Seemingly simultaneously.

Exactly Like You from Nat King Cole. Hands play the drums as bongos. Piano and bass snake out some Funk. There is some intangible magic around this performance. Assis then switches to guitar and a second bass solo sounds harmolodic.

Drifter’s classic On Broadway always had deep Latin roots with that addictive Baiao beat.

The New York in Grey Lynn party closes with a Fao. Brazilian tribal Folk music. That is Magalenha. Fast rhythms with scat vocals to match.  Kick-drum and cymbals race. The snare snaps. James Brown’s I Feel Good is conjured up, and in a little Voo-Doo is bent into the Latin beat.

A superb show. Classy and cool meets hot and vibrant and everyone is moved.

Rev Orange Peel