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Voçe Não Sabe-2011
Sarava Criola-Music Video-2010
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Brazilian and funk are the platforms for new live dance band
By Lulu Zahara

In the wee hours of a recent Sunday morning and down a back alley somewhere west of mainstream Toronto, a gathering of lucky people witness a rebirth of cool.

They come in fair numbers and from varying generations to a nondescript venue that’s long been an after hours hunting ground for music-hungry nighthawks. The entertainment past midnight on this particular Sunday, however, is far from neutral.
On stage, after close to ten years away from the city’s live music scene, is Bruce Jones, (for those who remember the 1990s in TO, the leader of several incarnations of the Brazilian dance band, Da), accompanied by his brand new outfit called Plataforma. With collaborator and fellow composer Ted Peters, Jones has pulled together a quintet that in a very short time - three rehearsals to be exact - is sounding like a band to be reckoned with.

Jones is clearly back in the business of writing music and his compositions are fresh, gloriously melodic and sometimes haunting, but always with his signature acoustic flair and innate feel for the rhythms of Brazil, where he grew up. Jones plants the dynamite, and together with Peters on horns and keyboards and vocals, maestro Steve Gotlib on bass, the gifted drummer Kyle Mcgyle, and Brian Vaillencourt on sax, flute and vocals, they fire it up with explosive results. The arrangements are innovative, sometimes complex, but never without the infectious funk and Brazilian groove that are at the core of a great dance number.

And despite the tight squeeze on this evening’s stage the boys in the band are cooking with gas. There’s an obvious connection between them that Jones attributes to “intuition”. The current configuration, he says “feels completely natural and there is a musical maturity and understanding that is profound … that’s the only word that describes it.”

Jones has been out of the limelight for some time, laying low after a near-fatal car accident. He’s less a finger on one hand but more a composer and player than ever.
“I’m getting to be an old timer,” he quips “and I’ve been apprehensive about my ability to keep up the tempo, to hold my own.”

But the time off has paid off and Jones says the chance to play live doesn’t scare him any longer. “In previous bands I was under pressure to emulate this or that, to lead without much support. Now it’s more my flow and that is really gratifying.”

He’s also cognizant of the fact that he’s hooked up with some very accomplished musicians. “Kyle Mcgyle, our massively talented drummer lived briefly in Brazil and he understands innately what I want to do, says Jones. “Ted Peters is a trombonist of note and his grasp of some of my harmonies and melodies has added such depth to the arrangements.” And Steve Gotlib? Well, Jones recalls, “the minute he picked up the instrument in the first rehearsal, I knew he was a natural. He is a masterful bass player, has great ears and a deep feel for the music.”

Peters says this project excites him more than any he’s been involved in for the past decade. “I view this as the ultimate writing platform. What more can you ask for than to have the opportunity to try out your ideas with a handful of incredible musicians? When creativity is the medium, anything is possible. Ability or lack of it, can hinder the creative process. Not the case with Plataforma. You give these guys a seed and they'll give you a rainforest.

Peters insists the band is offering a “musical cornucopia to satisfy many palettes”. And he’s been on the music scene in Toronto for long enough to know a good thing when he sees it. “Some outstanding groups have come out of this city. Plataforma should be no different. All the elements are there.”

There’s some tweaking to be done for sure, both Peters and Jones agree. “We had some minor tuning problems tonight and we’ve got work to do on the nuances, but we’re all feeling pretty good about the potential of this outfit.”

The crowd appears sold and there’s early morning praise for Plataforma from the more crusty and critical regulars. “It’s great to have Bruce back, and even better to hear him playing with such young and gifted musos,” remarks one. Another predicts that Plataforma is a “kickass” band that “might just make live dance music in Toronto worth paying for.”

Bruce Jones (guitar and vocals) was raised in and around Sao Paulo, Brazil and the musical traditions of that country have profoundly influenced his work. Jones studied in Brazil and later at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He has a long history playing .... “around town” ... in Toronto and was the leader of several incarnations of the popular Brazilian dance bands Cocada and Da in the 1990s. Jones has recorded numerous CDs of original work, which highlight his remarkable versatility and outstanding talent as a composer, arranger, instrumentalist and producer. Much of Plataforma’s musi