Adriana Giordano (center) leads a recent EntreMundos jam session at Capitol Cider. Photo by Daniel Sheehan.
By Andrew Luthringer
EntreMundos (“between worlds”) is not like a typical jam session populated solely by a line of musicians waiting for their turn to blow. It’s more like a lively international block party, all ages, genders, and backgrounds mixing together, enjoying each other’s company and music in a supportive and welcoming atmosphere, both as participants and as audience members. One week you’re a newcomer, the next week you’re greeted as an old friend.
The sessions are hosted by Brazilian-born Adriana Giordano, a consummate host as well as a superb vocalist, with the characteristically clear, unadorned purity of vocal tone emblematic of many of Brazil’s finest singers. Giordano fronts a top-shelf house band comprised of some of Seattle’s finest musicians: Jeff Busch on drums, Dean Schmidt on bass, Eric Verlinde on piano, with Ernesto Pediangco and Tor Dietrichson alternating on percussion. Highlighting a Latin/Brazilian foundation accentuated with deep jazz skills and a sure sense of global groove, Giordano and the band kick the night off with their own energetic set (which at $0 is one of the best music deals in town!), featuring music from Brazilian icons Jobim, João Bosco, Hermeto Pascoal, and more.
After the band sets the mood and gets the crowd energized, Giordano begins bringing combinations of singers and instrumentalists who have signed up ahead of time to share the stage. On the nights I’ve attended, the quality of the guests was high, and the range of music played was broad: Ellington, Miles, Motown, roadhouse blues, soul classics from Ray Charles and Roberta Flack, Cuban Son, and even a berimbau space jam. In the custody of the deftly versatile house band, the Brazilian and Latin flavors are blended so smoothly with jazz, funk, soul, rock, and even with blues, that there’s a reliably solid continuity to the proceedings.
The sessions are very inclusive, with strong encouragement from the crowd and no pretentious separation between the experienced musicians and those who haven’t logged a lot of stage hours, but Giordano does put a focus on keeping the performance quality as high as possible. EntreMundos is not an “anything goes” karaoke or open mic night, and it’s apparent that a lot of the guests have put in some work ahead of time.
“To make sure that the love of music and the energy level stays high, it is a jam session where it’s a little more structured,” says Giordano. Ideally, guests should have some idea of how to play with a band, and to that end, a fair number of people come prepared with charts to quickly show the other musicians before they kick off the music.
But a lack of experience won’t keep you off the stage, either. Giordano connects with interested people at the sessions, to help them prepare for the downbeat.
“We want to sound good, and we want you to sound good,” she says. “If you’ve never done this before, come and listen, talk to the musicians and get to know them, pick a tune that you like and work on it, try to get a chart, or try to connect with musicians so they can help you.”
Giordano also uses the first set with the house band to formally showcase more experienced guest musicians, saving a sixth spot onstage each week for a pre-arranged guest to collaborate at a deeper level. Saxophonist Cynthia Mullis and clarinetist Rosalynn De Roos recently made superb contributions to the opening sets.
“It really gives those artists an opportunity to play their music, and they bring their audience, so now there are new folks coming to the jams, more connections, more networking, more music!” says Giordano.
Giordano is also a key player in the Puget Sound’s increasingly fertile Brazilian music ecosystem, which includes her ongoing Brazilian Nights concert series and the vital Saturday afternoon radio show “Raízes” on KBCS-FM. Her connections and other band activities (including the EntreMundos Quarteto, which grew out of the jam sessions) provide another flow of great local and out-of-town musicians who make frequent appearances at the jam sessions.
The EntreMundos sessions bounced around to a few different spots (including the Owl ‘N Thistle and The Scarlet Tree) before finding its permanent home at Capitol Cider in January of 2014, and the club has been a great fit. The centrally located venue makes for relatively easy access from much of the city, and the EntreMundos sessions attract a more varied crowd than you might expect on Capitol Hill. Club owner Julie Tall has been very supportive, making equipment upgrades and enhancements to the acoustics, and bringing on a dedicated sound engineer every week (so Eric Verlinde no longer has to run the PA and play piano at the same time!). Tall is there every Monday, enjoying the music and the scene.
“She also keeps an eye on the folks that go up on stage to play or sing, and some of those people have gotten gigs, because of the jam,” says Giordano.
But the EntreMundos sessions are really about the atmosphere and enjoying the music.
As Jeff Busch summarizes: “Our job is to encourage guests to be at ease and have a good time. We try and make it a fun hang, and not take ourselves too seriously!”
Judging by the amount of smiling and laughter I saw onstage and in the audience, mission accomplished.