Ed Motta has been a familiar face to many for over two decades now, and on the basis of this superb performance there seems little evidence that he’ll be fading away anytime soon
Motta performed to a packed and highly attentive audience at London’s Jazz Café for nearly two hours and was a consummate showman throughout. It was the first chance for many fans to see some of the tracks from his new album Perpetual Gateways performed live, and his band – sourced from in and around Europe – were exemplary, considered and possessed a great group dynamic.
The performance opened with ‘Captain’s Refusal’, a track inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s classic detective thriller Sabotage: a delicately conceived piece that both carried a compelling narrative while grooving majestically. Indeed, his own ability as a storyteller really stood out as he took time to elaborate on the tales behind each tune as the evening progressed.
Much of his recent work – including 2013’s AOR – has been inspired by his fascination with both film soundtracks and times gone by. The track ‘Flores da Vida Real’ was influenced by TV series intros, and his verging upon encyclopaedic knowledge of arcane TV series from the UK – including The Avengers and Captain Scarlet – elicited a huge cheer from the audience, and this sense of camaraderie imbued this performance with a feeling of community.
“Motta simply loves music, and to see him in his element was a real pleasure”
It was a musically wonderful occasion, too. His hilarious story about meeting Peter Falk (the star of Columbo) in Nice and declaring his undying love to him via a vino-tinged haze was immediately followed by an energetic rendition of AOR cut ‘Farmer’s Wife’. Motta has always been bold with harmony and it’s his use of rock-tinged balladry with jazz sensibility that has seen him cut a unique figure on the musical landscape. New track ‘Forgotten Nickname’ was a real stand out; opening with expansive chords on his Fender Rhodes, Motta’s vocal soared above the ensemble, and the subtle instrumentation in accompaniment allowed his prowess as a performer to stand front and centre. Other tracks such as ‘Reader’s Choice’ – written in Amsterdam, a place Motta regularly visits for inspiration – carried a similarly slow, yet emotive feel.
There was plenty of vigour, also, with the full on funk onslaught of ‘Drive Me Crazy’ and the groove of ‘Smile’ offering up a fine balance with these slow ballads; a special mention should also be paid to musical director and pianist Matti Klein, whose solo on ‘Good Intentions’ was dazzling.
Upon finishing with his classic track ‘Columbina’ and AOR favourite ‘Dondi’ I was reminded of why I first fell in love with Motta’s work. He radiates passion for music and even with his most accessible tracks there is always something intriguing around the corner, be it a rhythmic nuance, quirky chord substitution or even a powerful roar from his inimitable voice. Motta simply loves music, and to see him in his element was a real pleasure.