Spring is in the air, and a cool breeze brought some fresh music to Wellington. Dan Costa, a “multicultural musician fascinated by nature”, as he puts it, was born into a Portuguese-Italian family in London. He currently lives in Europe, but is more accurately a citizen of the world because he travels continually, spreading his music far and wide.
After three years of COVID restrictions, he is finally out and about again. This time, he has initiated his global tour nearly at the antipode to his home.
On Thursday the eighth, Costa played original tunes, including a few pieces from his most recent album, Beams, due to be released shortly, as well as several from previous albums. He was accompanied by local Umar Zacharia on double bass and Hikurangi Scheverien-Kaa on drums. Both sets were artfully balanced betwixt motion and reflection.
The several tracks from 2016’s Suite Três Rios were filled with Brazilian energy and flair—samba, bossa nova, chorinho, baiao. His lively and precise fingers reminded the audience that the piano is a percussion instrument, but Costa went beyond that, evoking whistles, cheering, and clapping. I could barely resist the invitation to join the carnival.
The pieces from the upcoming Beams spoke a very different musical language. Enchanting harmonies created an enormous space the size of the sky, full of light and shadow, wind and calm, immersing the audience in a state simultaneously thoughtful and thoughtless: a practice in mindful happiness.
But one tune in particular stood out for me: Modinha, his interpretation of a traditional and sentimental Portuguese song. Costa says that this composition was inspired by time he spent in the Amazon rainforest. The repeated sound like rain drops reminded me of Chopin’s Prelude in B Minor. It was not merely the melody that created this arch in space and time, but the feeling of a “time-space” shared by both pieces, a space where time flows differently.
A Thursday to remember.
By Charlie Queen