Recently we were gifted with an unexpected trip to 1960s Brazil. Well actually Zinc Bar in the village, but on Saturday nights it’s actually the same thing. Monika Oliveira and her talented band, The Brazilians, takes the audience on a journey throughout Brazil and the distinct regional rhythms. With triple back-to-back sets you can spend all night and into the early hours of the morning captivated by sensual Bossa sounds. There is something nostalgic about The Brazilians, it’s a kind of musical experience that is so rare now in a city that keeps closing their doors on history in exchange for rising rents. Perhaps it’s Oliveira’s attire, with a magnolia-like flower reminiscent of Billie Holiday’s signature look, or the deep velvety reds that envelop the stage at Zinc, but either way the look perfectly encases the sound the band produces.
Oliveira seamlessly weaves Brazilian classics from the likes of Jobim with original works on topics ranging from her influential grandmother’s visits to being a lover scorned. All different. All deeply personal. Oliveira often jumps off stage and gets close to her audience members, and while patrons trickle in and trickle out her genuine energy remains the same.
The other band members are not to be left behind. Saxophonist Imraan Khan in particular commands his solos, walking the tightrope between free improvisation and reminiscent notes. They are musicians who could hold their own without Oliveira, but we should all be grateful that they have found each other, for if you close your eyes you can hear Elis Regina in the room.
Check out Monika Oliveira and the Brazilians’ residency at Zinc Bar every Saturday night.