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Around Midnight

Midnight was the time when I slid into a deliciously dark, smokey jazz club in Chicago and was bewitched by a blend of music I hadn't heard before. It was distinctly Bossa Nova topped with a layer of bop. They were beginning to call this style "fusion" as Latin jazz had resurged. But what I heard that night was decidedly more and rarified. The piano was exceptional, technically and emotionally. And there was another layer floating underneath--subtle, classical riffs that might answer the intriguing question of: What happens when Jobim meets Bach?
That's how I met Manfredo Fest, a worldly, classically trained pianist and composer who sautéed jazz and Brazilian rhythmic harmonies into a feast of musical entrées.
We met and talked that night in between Manfredo's sets as he maneuvered through the crowd, flirting with his fans, joking with his friends, and whispering a few modulations to his band. It was a delight to see, because, you see, Manfredo couldn't see--he was blind, though you'd barely notice it. It seldom affected the rich, full life he created and enjoyed. He was a high spirit that night and for as long as I knew him.

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