- 26 Jun 19
An evening in the musical company of Milton Nascimento, in the rarified environs of Paradiso in Amsterdam, turned out to be a wonderful and revelatory spiritual experience...
He plays air guitar, his hands twisting and weaving, the fingers reflexively moving, as all around him, the eternal sounds envelop and surround. And sometimes, when the melody is pouring, his hands rise up, just below his mouth, and push it out further. “Take it! Take it!”, he beseeches and the crowd rises and lends their hands and their voices, and their hearts and everything rises and falls and overflows. The tears. The joys.
All the birds of the Amazon came here tonight to sing in the sweetest unison of harmonies. Two great rivers made by a drummer and a percussionist, carry the rhythm, as the ancient trees sway. A young man at the side adds occasional percussion, acoustic guitar, and when he sings he is beyond the realm of angels. Beside him a saxophonist and flautist plays the perfect notes, while behind him a keyboard player brings mystery and strange, alluring sounds. And the upright bass player, with the face of a child at Christmas, has the hands of a magician. On the far side, the lead guitarist has fingers that strike the fretboard like snakes, such speed, so effortlessly perfect, so utterly true.
In the middle sits Milton Nascimento (pictured above, in his guitar-playing heyday), a frail, 76-year-old man, whose walk is unsure and who needs guidance and support to get to his spot. Then he sings and he is young again. With a power, a range, a beauty, and a gentle humanity, a softness, a tenderness, a welcoming. Ah, those melodies, those irresistible melodies.
Milton Nascimento. His hands are withering away, clutching for wood and steel, willing to do the intricate work, willing to play, holding themselves in the place he has held his guitar countless times. He is the blossomer. With him and the band and the crowd, everything is fresh again, and youthful and nobody’s growing old nurtured in this ageless soul. This is the music of Brazil, as deep and as wide and as mysterious as the vast land itself. Joyful, irresistible, complex, innovative, loving, mysterious, ebbing and flowing and rushing and waterfalling.
Tonight, the focus was on the Clube de Esquina period (1972-78). I beseech you, if you have not heard this music, you must. It’s as good as anything I’ve ever heard, and this gig was as powerful an experience as I’ve ever had.
He plays air guitar. Milton plays the air and the air plays him.