My friend, Rômmel Ribeiro, called me and said "Are you going to see Joyce?" After his recommendation, and Luciana Souza's cover of her "Feminina," I got myself a last minute ticket. What a pleasure it was. Drummer Tutty Moreno had the textbook bossa feel I've heard off the Milton Banana records - laidback, effortless, and swinging like crazy. His fills were subtle - a snare accent here, hi-hat and sidestick rolls there - but highly effective and never disrupted the groove. Pianist Helio Alves is my discovery of the festival so far; for whatever reason his name never popped up on my radar. Featured as much as Joyce, every tune had a fantastic Alves solo, well-constructed, melodically sound and harmonically rich. Very few people talk about the great legacy of Brazilian pianists, from Wagner Tiso to Walter Wanderley to Amilton Godoy and many others. Helio Alves is directly in that line.
Joyce's first set was more languid bossa nova, with tributes to the masters of bossa Johnny Alf, Dorival Caymmi (a fantastic version of "Lá Vem a Baiana") and Jobim (a slow, simmering "Desafinado"). She proved herself to be a terrific self-accompanist on guitar, never getting in Alves' way, and adding another layer of richness underneath her strong alto. She told stories behind her songs, including the English "Band on the Wall" written at the club of the same name in Manchester. The second set was full of more uptempo samba, including a wordless (save the bridge) take on "One Note Samba" and a thrilling rendition of "O morro não tem vez." Joe Lovano and Judi Silvano were in the house, and Joyce dedicated one song to them.
The Montreal crowd, nearly filling Club Soda, had been waiting forty years to see Joyce, and it showed. After an encore of "Berimbau," the crowd clapped strong and slow for minutes through the canned music, with stagehands running around backstage before Joyce returned to the stage solo for another version of "Aguas de março."