Piano In The House – Adventure Music

Piano In The House – Adventure Music AM1101 2, 59:58 ****:

(Pianists: Tiago Costa; Amilton Godoy; Karin Fernandes; Hercules Gomes; Benjamin Taubkin; Júlia Tygel; Zé Godoy; Fabio Torres; Heloisa Fernandes)

When most North Americans think about Brazil, the standard reflective words are sun, sea, sand, samba and soccer. Although the country represents close to 48% of the land mass of South America, and has over 200 million inhabitants, the cultural touchstones rarely reference the piano. In this live recording from 2104 in São Paulo, nine of Brazil’s outstanding pianists perform compositions that cover the gamut of styles that help to make the country the interesting musical polyglot that it is.

A caveat starting out, is that most of the compositions are by the pianists who perform on this session have only vague references to what can be called jazz. While not purely classical (if that term can be used) the compositions mainly use the classical form, rather than a popular music structure. Therefore the standard jazz vocabulary cannot be employed when reviewing the tracks in this outing.

The driving force behind this project is one of its participants, Benjamin Taubkin. According to the liner notes, he started The Orquestra Popular de Camara and the choro ensemble Moderna Tradicão among others. His contribution is one of his own compositions “Caipira” which is a very lengthy exposition full of harmonic intricacy that shows he is a pianist of meticulous motivation.

All of the performers involved in this concert exhibit an attractive approach to the underlying material, and each one delivers precise and evocative interpretations. Ambition Godoy’s playing on “Odeon” is assertive and rhythmic, and one can detect of touch of Scott Joplin in the number. By contrast, Karin Fernandes on “Valsa Da Dor” offers a more lush and sultry approach to the Heitor Villa-Lobos composition.

It would be superfluous to continue to ruminate on the excellent playing exhibited by all the pianists involved, except to say that they deserve an ear so that the musical underpinnings of this diverse country can be better appreciated.

TrackList: Felipa Na Área; Odeon; Valsa Da Dor; Dud No Frevo; Caipira; Caićo; Luisa No Parque; Venezuelana; Vôo

—Pierre Giroux

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