Brazilian Music Feature

by | Oct 18, 2008 | Special Features | 0 comments

I happen to think Brazilian music of every sort is the most exciting of any nationality on earth.  Of course there are the classical composers, led by Villa-Lobos, but I’m talking about the popular side, whether it be samba, bossa nova, Brazilian jazz, choro, Musica Popular Brasileira, or Brazilian folk music in general. In this quick survey of recent  Brazilian music I’m going to focus mostly on bossa nova and Brazilian jazz.

The bossa nova craze originally ran from 1958 – when it was introduced in Brazil by Moraes, Jobim and Gilberto – to about 1963.  But it seems to be having a resurgence of interest lately – well-timed for the 50th anniversary of its origin.  Both nostalgic recreations of the originals and more up-to-date modern explorations involving bossa nova are being heard today.

The style came out of samba, with more harmonic complexity and less percussive repetition. Joao Gilberto’s earliest recordings plus the soundtrack music of the 1959 film Black Orpheus became hugely popular – first in South America and then moving north.  The first American bossa nova jazz album was a little-known one by the duo of Bud Shank on sax and flute and guitarist Laurindo Almeida. That was quickly followed by the famous Charlie Byrd/Stan Getz LP, and then performers such as Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald took up the bossa nova style. The classical guitar with nylon strings was at the basis of bossa nova, and some of the purest recordings are just vocal accompanied by guitar. The piano is also important, and has often been a bridge between bossa nova and jazz. Another connection between bossa nova and jazz is that both of them make sophisticated use of seventh and extended chords.  The melodic lines are often unusual and even dissonant, especially in the music of Jobim.  A new group of artists is reinterpreting the bossa nova style of this soothing music with the infusion of electronics, rock and other influences.  Here’s a survey of some recent good Brazilian sounds:

TONINHO HORTA – To Jobim with Love – (Orch. includes Gal Costa, Gary Peacock, Bob Mintzer and others) – Resonance Records HCD-2003:  Toninho Horta is not only a skilled electric and acoustic guitarist and vocalist, but also a composer and orchestrator who creates in this gorgeous album lush backgrounds of woodwinds, strings and vocal choruses for some of the familiar bossa nova hits as well as less-well-known ones, including his own compositions. These 13 tracks are a heartfelt tribute to the man whose name is synonymous with bossa nova.  Several of his family members also take part in the proceedings. This is the biggest production so far from the new jazz label Resonance, and definitely rates a listen.

TrackList: Agua de Beber, Portrait in Black and White, If Everyone Was Like You, From Ton to Tom, Cristiana, Meditation, No More Blues, Infinite Love, Promises I Made, Modinha, The Girl From Ipanema – Vignette, Without You, Desafinado

        The Adventure Music is an enterprising label focusing on a wide spectrum of Brazilian jazz, folk and world music.   Following are a few of their fine releases:

TONINHO HORTA, acoustic guitar & vocals; Nicola Stilo, flutes – Duets – Adventure Music AM1020 2:  Here is Toninho Horta again, in a very different setting, recorded in Italy in 1999.  The combination of flute and acoustic guitar is an old one, and Horta’s voice adds a third element of interest to the combo.  Three jazz standards by Coltrane, Ellington and Bill Evans are included along with originals by both performers. Absolutely transporting!

TrackList: Naima, My Canary, In a Sentimental Mood, Bib’s Mood, Good Friends, My One and Only Love, Illusion, Wind, My Ideal, Very Early.

MIKE MARSHALL, mandolin & CHORO FAMOSO – Adventure Music HDCD AM1009 2: 
Versatile mandolin-picker Marshall has been bringing choro music to North American audiences from its origins in 19th century Brazil. The word means “lament” in Portuguese, but the tunes are usually very bouncy and happy sounding.  They were originally played by a trio of flute, guitar and cavaquinho (a small four-stringed instrument).  Now larger groups add mandolin, woodwinds, a bass guitar line and light percussion.  The samba is obviously behind the choro but the sound is more active and the finger-picking often astonishingly  fast and furious. This fun album featuring Marshall’s mandolin, clarinet, guitar and percussion was recorded in Oakland, California but sounds authentically Brazilian.

TrackList: A Hug Mr. Domingos, Whispering, Tribute to Radames, Receipe for Samba, Choro da Gafieira, Choro Negro, Codfish Bone, Carioca Nights, Don’t Touch Me, Luis Americano on the PRE

MIKE MARSHALL, mandolin & guests – Brazil Duets (with: Bela Fleck, banjo; Edgar Meyer, bass; Andy Narell, piano; Kaila Flexer, violin; Michael Manring, elec. bass; Jovino Santos Neto, piano; Andy Connell, sax; Jackie Rago, cuatro) Adventure Music HDCD AM1021 2: For this high-spirited session, mandolin virtuoso Marshall got together a bunch of his fellow musicians in the SF Bay Area  – some as thoroughly bitten by the choro bug as himself, and others coming from entirely different genres such as American fiddle music (in the case of bassist Meyer).  They even throw in tunes that are not really choros but seem to be in the same bouncy spirit, such as the duet on a French musette tune Bela Fleck plays with Marshall. Several of the tunes are from Pixinguinha, who Marshall considers the Duke Ellington of Brazil. Another – Luis Americano na PRE – he claims to be the greatest choro every written.

Most of the tracks on Adventure Music CDs have the tune titles first in Portuguese, then helpfully followed by the English translation, which I’ll reprint. I first typed “Spock on the Stars” because the print is rather small, but then I read the interesting credit for that track; it’s “Spock on the Stairs,” because that’s the name of the dog belonging to one of the musicians who would always chase the band members up the stairs as they came for rehearsal.

TrackList: One to Zero, Fla-Flu, The Loose Devil, Luis Americano on Radio PRE3, Karate, At That Time, Indifference, Coming Down the Hill, From Heart to Heart, A Chorinho in the Village, Golden Eagle Hornpipe, Spock on the Stairs, Tasty, Peace and Happiness at Home, Bonus tracks: Karate, Intrigue in Padhilha’s Bar, One to Zero.

JOVINO SANTOS NETO – Soul of the Northeast (Alma do Nordeste) – With 11-piece band – Adventure Music AM 1041 2:  Here Brazilian pianist/flutist/composer Neto – one of the guests in the above duets album – puts together a 13-track excursion into the musical culture of Northeastern Brazil, recorded in Brazil.  The tunes are mostly instrumental, with a variety of instrumentation featuring piano, harmonica, woodwinds, melodica and accordion. There is a strong feeling of the choros and samba in most of the music.  Maravilhoso!

TrackList: Party at Macuca Farm, Your Folks Miss You, Rasberry Vine, Birdsong, St. Peter on the Raft, Hammock Peace & Cuddling, Flower from the Sertao, Soul of the Northeast, Mud Hut, Forro Vino, Borborema, Donkey Xote, Red Wild Lantern.

JOVINO SANTOS NETO – Roda Carioca (Rio Circle) (with guests: Fabio Pascoal, Gabriel Grossi, Hamilton de Holanda, Hermeto Pascoal, Marcos Amorim) – Adventure Music AM1023 2:  Another melodic and swinging contribution to Brazilian Jazz from keyboardist Neto – who is also influenced by classical and world music. Working with his compatriots Rogerio Botter Maio on bass and handclaps and Marcio Bahia on various drums and handclaps, Neto plays not only piano, but melodica, flutes, accordion, agogo and handclaps.  His guests include some top names in Brazilian jazz on percussion, harmonica, ten-string mandolin (de Holanda) and acoustic guitar. The only one of the 11 tracks with a vocal is Nana, and Marcos Amorim is the singer. More terrific and tasty Brazilian jazz!

TrackList: Starfish, Ivory, Nice Folks, Nana, Children’s Party, Coco in the Circle, Homeopathy, Juvenal in Grumari, Blue Ranch, Bach-Te-Vi, The Monkey Fence.

JOVINO SANTOS NETO & WEBER IAGO with guest Joe Lovano, soprano sax – Live at Carmoor – Adventure Music AM 1046 2: 
Boy, this guy Neto keeps busy for Adventure Music!  This one is basically a two-piano improvisation on mostly Brazilian themes by Neto and fellow Brazilian pianist Iago, with saxist Lovano joining them on the ninth and final track for a long and lovely treatment of Jobim’s classic Wave. The venue was a live concerto at the Caramoor Jazz Festival in upstate New York and the two pianists hold forth o a pair of gorgous-sounding Fazioli D308 concert grands which are beautifully recorded. The two keyboardists are old friends but had no idea that their performance that night would end up as a commercial CD.  During the program they paid tribute to some of Brazil’s finest composers: Pixinguinha, Jobim and Hermeto. It was a magical evening and well worth preserving in this fashion.

TrackList: Navigator, Along Together, Basket, Laments, Choro for Us, Being Happy, The End of the Beginning, Desafinado (Out of Tune), Wave.

MODERN TRADITIONS ENSEMBLE – New Old Music – (Isaias de Almedia, mandolin; Naylor Proveta, sop. sax & clarinet; Israel de Almeida, 7-string guitar; Benjamin Taubkin, piano; Guello, percussion; Teco Gardoso, bar. sax on tr. 7) – Adventure Music AM1018 2: 
Back to the choros again for this session, with musicians based in, and recorded in Sao Paulo rather than Rio. The nine tracks are all instrumental and all original versions of Brazilian choro classics. Four of them are from Pixinguinha again, and there are two from the early choros mandolin virtuoso and composer Jacob do Bandolim, and well as one from the more classical composer of the past Ernesto Nazareth, who wrote many piano pieces influenced by the choros style. Infectious melodies and rhythms abound.

TrackList: Solon’s Exploits, Vibrations, Sonorous, Pearls, Moeans of the Hill, Golden Drops, Whispering, Moans, I Arrived.

WEBER IAGO – Children of the Wind – (with Keith Underwood, flutes; Paul McCandless, oboe/English horn; up to six other players) – Adventure MusicAM1015 2:  Another lovely album with composer/pianist/percussionist Weber Iago.  He became interested in the Roma culture and history reading about the Gypsies, and decided to create a 32-minute suite, which is the present Children of the Wind. It makes use of the various elements of Iago’s background, which include not only Brazilian music but also classical and jazz.  However, there is no attempt to emulate Gypsy music; the suite is instead just his homage to his unusual strain of peoples. The suite has four movements: Haven, Excellence of Being, Purple Aura, & New Moon, and includes two flutes, cello, piano, bass, various percussion and at least three voices, including Iago’s.  The album is filled out with five other pieces which continue the same story – basically the worldwide diaspora of the Roma peoples. (McCandless is only heard on the first and fifth tracks.) The Sonata Brasileira is a three-movement sonata for flute and piano, and Prologue is another three-movement suite but for piano and three voices. Altogether a most attractive genre-busting album which would especially appeal to anyone partial to flute and oboe in a chamber setting.

TrackList: Out There in This World, The Making of a Path, Sonata Brasileira, Sara, Prologue, Children of the Wind Suite

VITTOR SANTOS, trombone & piano – Renewed Impressions – (mostly with quintet incl. guitar/bass/drums)  Adventure Music AM1031 2:
  Only the final one of these eight tracks is a Santos original, but the trombonist is a wonderful arranger and has created a subtle and flowing album of Brazilian-flavored tunes sure to please many ears. He puts down the ‘bone to play piano on two of the tracks, and he brings in amazing ten-string mandolin virtuoso Hamilton de Holanda on another track. The pianist on some of the tracks is Philippe Baden Powell.  The trombone is not my favorite brass instrument, but Santos’ warm tone and fine arrangements have captured me. My favorite track was An American No Samba.

TrackList: Luanne, An American No Samba, Renovando Consideracoes, London Samba, Lembrei de Tudo!, Um Trombone Na Rua Tereza, Etienne et Morgot, O Mover Da Aguas.

PHILIPPE BADEN POWELL – Estrada de Terra (Dirt Road) – mainly piano trio but with trumpet, soprano sax, elec.guitar, melodica, strings on final track – Adventure Music AM1028 2:  Baden Powell, to whom we were introduced on the above album, is the son of the famed late Brazilian guitarist/composer Baden Powell de Aquino. He has composed all the music in this lyric, extremely melodic and quietly rhythmic album. Some of the tracks are primarily guitar and piano, as though the younger Baden Powell is accompanying his father, as he probably did. The qualities of beautifully melodic but unexpected voice leadings and an overall very relaxed samba rhythm under everything – as found in the best Brazilian jazz – is here in abundance.

TrackList: Dirt Road, For Her to Dance, Myke’s Mood, On the Edge of the Lake, Sango, Boarding Gate 6, Rafaela’s Song, The Saint-Louis Island, Good Even Zoara, Célia Flew Away.

DANIEL SANTIAGO TRIO – On The Way (Santiago, guitar; Andre Vasoncellos, bass; Marcio Bahia, drums) – Adventure Music AM 1025 2:
  One of the three producers of this CD, mandolin master Hamilton de Holanda, describes Santiago’s musical approach (he composed and arranged all nine tracks) as “cinematographic.” That description is very accurate and communicates what you will hear on this thoughtful guitar trio outing. His instrument is unamplified and there are some string noises, but they seem to function as an expanded percussion section. Some of the pieces are homage to the vast horizons of the guitarist’s homeland, which is the central plain of Brazil where the modern architectural city of Brasilia is located.  Sonics, as on all Adventure Music CDs, is first rate.

Viewpoint, On the Way, Memory, Horta & Guinga, Tribute to Baden Powell, Homesick, Plateau, Old Times, New Generation.

HAMILTON DE HOLANDA, mandolin & ANDRÉ MEHMARI, piano – Continuous Friendship – Adventure MusicAM1043 2:  Here’s De Holanda with his ten-string mandolin and his friend pianist Mehmari and their fascinating musical conversations over 14 tracks. Mehmari mentions in the notes that their two instruments had difference origins and therefore they each have  their very own musical styles, which adds interest and contrasts to their duo improvisations. If you’re used to the higher-pitched mandolin of bluegrass and other styles, you may be surprised by the generally lower pitch of De Holanda’s mandolin. It seems to pair up even better with the grand piano as a result. A bit of a different surprise is the final track of the CD – the love theme from Morricone’s music to the film Cinema Paradiso. There are also three bonus tracks of first rehearsal tapings of three of the tunes in the album.  This delightful duo was recorded just last year in Sao Paolo.

TrackList: Rose, News, The Continuous Friendship Choro, It Happens, Underage, Black Choro, The Dream, With Serjao, Live Between Waltz, Streetwise Baiao, Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso. Bonus tracks: Black Choro, News, The Continuous Friendship Choro.

MUIZA ADNET SINGS MOACIR SANTOS (Featuring Milton Nascimento, Ivan Lins, Ricard Silveira & others; Mario Adnet, musical direction/arrangements) – Adventure Music AM 1032 2:  Moacir Santos, who recently passed away and this album was his last recording session, was not well known in the U.S. though he had been living in Los Angeles since 1967. He came from a poor family in the Brazilian Northeast and gained status as an arranger working in radio in the 1950s. In the 60s he wrote soundtracks for movies, made records for the Blue Note label, and worked with Sérgio Mendes. The arranger and songwriter is regarded as having been one of the most innovative talents in Brazilian music. Brazilian vocalist Muiza Adnet and her brother Mario were good friends of Santos and she came up with the idea of devoting an album to his compositions with lyrics.  Some of them are sung in English and there are English translations for all the others. Recorded in Rio, some of the tracks have subtle small group arrangements; one is guitar and piano and the closing one just piano accompaniment. Just lovely, all dozen of them!

TrackList: Ciranda, Off and On, Early Morning Love, Nana, If You Say Yes, Remember, The Saint from the Mountain, This Life, Wake Up and Smile, April Child, Tomorrow is Mine, March of the Saints’ Glory.

RICARDO SILVEIRA, guitar – Outro Rio (Another River) – with Joao Donato, Romulo Gomes, Marcelo Martins, Maques Morelenbaum and many more – Adventure Music  AM1033 2: 
Silveira plays in a uniquely Brazilian version of the guitar style of Pat Metheney. Although some of these dozen tracks are the usual guitar trio with bass and drums, Silveira opens things out on many by adding piano, sax, clarinet or cello. On most he is heard on acoustic guitar, but on some he doubles on electric. All of the tunes are his own compositions. He keeps things generally light and cool, but still swinging. Vocalist Maria Rita i heard on the track My Heart’s Way.

TrackList: Another River, Water from the Spring, Rain in the Morning, The Sun at the Window, Better Times, Choro Bacana, The Monster and the Flower, Good Day, My Heart’s Way, Moonlight in Rangiroa, To Live in Peace, Still Think of You.

MARCOS AMORIM, guitars – Sete Capelas (Seven Chapels) = with Nivaldo Ornelas, flutes; Robertinho Silva, drums/percussion; Ney Conceicao, doublebass – Adventure Music AM1024 2:  Amorim is a young guitarist who blends Brazilian music with other genres, including Maracatu, jazz, samba, funk, bolero, blues etc. The duo of flute and guitar has a long history, and that is the basis of this quartet.  All ten tracks are originals by Amorim. The opening tune is a “coisas” in Portuguese – that’s what Moacir Santos called many of his songs – it translates to “things.” The Bolero for Jaco is named after bassist Jaco Pastorious only indirectly – it’s really for the cat belonging to Amorim’s bassist Ney. The title selection is a musical tribute to an art movement started by an artist named Aleijandinho, who in the 18th century built seven chapels (still standing) for seven prophets in Minas Gerais .

TrackList: Many Things to Do, Indian Dreams, Jaco’s Bolero, Quiet River, Rainy Day, Lucky Stone, Seven Chapels, Moonlight, Mr. Z., Garoto’s Homage.

SAMBA MEETS BOOGIE WOOGIE – Mario Adnet, Monica Salmaso, Robert Sa, Maucha Adnet, Alfredo Del-Penho, Zé Renato (with Hamilton de Holanda, Hovino Santos Neto and more – Adventure Music AM 1048 2:  This is an unexpected turn – a tribute by some top Brazilian singers and instrumentalists to the pop and swing music of the 1940s and 50s. Mario Adnet again did the arrangements and was the musical director, and he based his work on the original 78s of the period. They’re not hits from the U.S., but songs about the invasion of foreign music into Brazil. One of them – Fairwell America – speaks about how the singer misses Brazil, can’t stay in the U.S. because “the samba wants me back.”  Another is about “When a Baiana (woman from Bahia) went to Harlem dancing samba.” She demonstrated “that in Brazil with the samba, the boogiewoogie also has a place.” The instrumental accompaniment is not a bit dated-sounding and the vocals just sound like modern-day singers vocalizing samba songs. There is a little explanation of the history behind each of the songs, as well as the translations. Great fun, and a view of a part of music history we didn’t know about.

TrackList: Farewll America, The Rat Boogie Woogie, I Samba, Baiana in Harlem, Samba Talk, Bit by Bit, Shanty Town Boogie Woogie, I Want a Samba, Naughty Brunette, No More Rock Rock, Why Argue with a Madam, Rascal in Paris, Tribuza’s Trombone, Chewing Gum with Banana, Brazilian Pandeiro.

MILTON NASCIMENTO/JOBIM TRIO – Novas Bossas (with Daniel Jobim, piano; Paula Braga, drums; Paulo Jobim, guitar; Rodrigo Villa, bass)  Blue Note/EMI 2 14817 2: 14 tracks of absolutely gorgeous songs, mostly by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Nascimento’s voice is strained on the higher notes, but we can excuse him (as we have Ivor Lins, Astrud Gilberto and others) because the tunes are all so great!

TrackList: Tudo que Voce Podia Ser, Dias Azuis, Cais, O Vento, Tarde, Brigas Nunca Mais, Caminhos Cruzados, Inutil Paisagem, Chega de Saudade, Medo de Amar, Velho Riacho, Esperanca Percida, Trem de Ferro, Samba do Aviao.

CHORO ENSEMBLE led by ANAT COHEN, Clarinet (+ 2 6 or 7-string guitars, Cavaquino/tenor guitar, Pandeiro/percussion) – Circular Moves CIM 7017  This brilliant and authentic-sounding album of the Brazilian genre that began in Rio in the 19th century was actually recorded in Brooklyn!  The Choro Ensemble is the only group in NYC dedicated to the Choro music tradition. Israeli clarinetist Cohen has been captivated by this music, and occasionally departs from her ECM-jazz bag into this one, and with the most skilled of chops too. With the multiple guitars of the quintet, great rhythms, and the clarinet – which was sometimes substituted for hot fiddle – it strikes me as a Brazilian version of Django’s Hot Club of France. Several of the 13 tunes are by such lights of the genre as Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim, and two tracks are by Anat Cohen herself.

TrackList: Nostalgia, Chorinho em Aldeia, Ciumento, Curinga, Diabinho Maluco, Cochichando, Choro pro Guilherme, Voo de Mosca, Passa Tempo, 1X0, Sweet One, Chorinho pra Dani, A Ginga do Mané.

HENDRIK MEURKENS, harmonica & vibes – Amazon River  (with Dori Caymmi, Paquito D’Rivera, Oscar Castro-Neves, Duduka Da Fonseca & others)  Blue Toucan Music (no #) 48:53:  German harmonicist/composer/arranger Meurkens is one of many musicians in Europe and North America who have an enduring love affair with Brazilian music. In fact, after he graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston he moved directly to Brazil to soak up the music and culture. He later took some of the top Brazilian musicians – several of them on this recording – on a tour of Germany and Finland. One of Meurkens favorite forms of Brazilian music is the choros, and three of his original compositions on this CD are choros. He brought in some Brazilian musicians known as masters of this genre.  Meurkens intent was for the album to cover the whole range of Brazilian music, including both the jazz influence and the folk choros.  Some of the selections are as simple as just harmonica and guitar or harmonica and piano trio, while others bring in a string section and several percussionists. Plenty of variety thruout this album, plus the unique sound of the harmonica – not normally heard in Brazilian music.

TrackList: Mountain Drive, Amazon River, The Girl in the Window, Passarim, Ela é Carioca, Mosquito Tongue, O Cantador, Meu Canario Vizinho Azul, The Peach, Sem Vocé, Piano na Mangueira

HENDRIK MEURKENS – New York Samba Jazz Quintet (Meurkens, harmonica & vibes; Jed Levy, tenor sax & flute; Helio Alves, piano; Gustavo Amarante, bass; Adriano Santos, drums) – Zoho Music  ZM 200701:  This Meurkens CD differs in several ways from the above effort. It involves fewer performers, adding only the reeds player to the usual Meurkens quartet to provide some interesting melody lines.  It was also recorded live at a New Jersey jazz club. However, similar to the Amazon CD, it involves four compositions by Meurkens – including one that doesn’t sound much like a Brazilian venue – Prague in March. It’s a blend of Brazilian jazz, choros, chorinos, and sambas. There is a bit less of the Brazilian lushness in this one, but it’s always a pleasure to hear the swinging solos of one of the two top chromatic harmonicists playing jazz today (the other being Toots Thielemans).

TrackList: Vamos Nessa, Flor De Lis, A Ra, Prague in March, Mimosa, I Can’t Get Started, Menina na Janela, Bolero Para Paquito, Triste.

MARCO PEREIRA, guitar – Essence (with Paul McCandless, reeds; Natallino Neto, bass; Marcio Bahia, drums/percussion) – Kind of Blue Records 10018:  Recorded neither in Brazil nor the U.S., this session was done in Milan, Italy. I wasn’t familiar with Pereira but he is obviously a Brazilian native. Bringing in noted reed player Paul McCandless (of Oregon) for four of the ten tracks adds much interest to the guitar-featured  album. The tunes are mostly by such Brazilian composers as Jobim, Gilberto and Cavaquinho, though there are two originals from Pereira. Some of the tracks are just solo guitar or guitar with percussion. The “major work” here is a nine-minute Suite Baden Powell, which blends three of the great guitarist/composer’s pieces into a lovely medley, opening with his song O Astronauta.

TrackList: Cristal, Mulher Rendeira, Um abraco no Bonfa, Luz Negra, Suite Baden Powell, Plainte, Xodo da Baiana, Eu te amo, Carioca, Be My Love.

QUARTETO BRASIL – Bossa Nova – Delicado – (Cristovao Bastos, piano; Zé Canuto, saxophone; Bororo, bass; Jurim Moreira, drums; Guest:  Marcalzinho, percussion) Kind of Blue Records 10016: 
Another very enjoyable album of Brazilian jazz without a guitar, but it still has that fine samba swing to it. This one was recorded in Brazil, and boasts some nice solos by saxist Canuto and superb pianist Bastos. The only one of the nine tracks that will strike most American listeners as a standard is Delicado, but it was a surprise to be reminded that Dave Brubeck had penned a bossa nova number – Bossa Nova U.S.A. – upon hearing the tune I had an “aha” experience.

TrackList: Os tres choros, Bossa Nova USA, Delicado, Subindo a Rocinha, Elo, Estrada Real, Juazeiro, Folia da chapada, Mandacaru.

PORTINHO TRIO with special guest JAY ASHBY – Vinho Do Porto (Portinho, drums; Klaus Mueller, piano; Itaiguara Brandao & Lincoln Goines (alternating), bass; special guitar Jay Ashy, trombone & percussion) – MCG Jazz 10332 [Distr. by Telarc]:  Portinho is a NYC-based drummer of Brazilian origin who has performed with many jazz greats, including Tania Maria, Gato Barbiery and Paquito D’Rivera.  The latter dubbed him “one of the most tasteful…and joyful percussionists of all times.”  Though he leads this trio/quartet, the group’s sound is not overpowered by the drums, but swings in a very tight and balanced bag on both Brazilian tunes and standards such as Ellington’s Satin Doll and Wayne Shorter’s Footprints. Trombonist Ashby turns in some fine solos on many of the tracks and also produced the album. The quartet’s six-minute version of Aquarela do Brasil makes the hoary super-classic shine like a jewel suspended in a shapely Mardi Gras-decorated décolleté.

TrackList: Vinho Do Porto, Satin Doll, Pools, Cancao Que Morre No Ar, Doce De Coco, Aquarela do Brasil, Footprints, Homage to Tom, Viva O Rio De Janerio, Vai De Vez, Who’s Smokin’?

RANDY BRECKER, trumpet – RANDY IN BRASIL (With 12-piece band of Brazilian musicians) – MAMA Records  MAA 1035:  Randy, who was half of the famed duo with his late brother Michael Brecker, first got into Latin music in his 1979 album “Into the Sun,” which blended his impression of Brazilian music with bits of Latin, World, Funk and and Jazz. The dozen tracks for this new CD were drawn from Djavan, Ivan Lins, Gilberto Gil, and two originals by Randy. The album was recorded during a two-week trip Brecker made to Sao Paulo. The album’s producer Auria Duprat (who was also arranger/composer/conductor and pianist!) said after the session, “Actually, we think he is Brazilian – he just was born in the USA!” The arrangements are terrific and greatly varied from track to track. I especially dug Sambop, one of the Brecker originals, which has a vocalease part sung by Rubinho Ribeiro. After being introduced to a lead brass instrument in this music by the Ashby album above, it‘s a welcome continuation and even enhancement to hear Brecker’s trumpet fronting this great Brazilian jazz ensemble!

TrackList: Pedro Brasil, Ile Aye, Guaruja, Me Leve, Malasia, Sambop, Oriente, Maca, Olhos Puxados, Rebento, Fazendo Hora, Aiaiai.

 — John Henry         Oba!

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