Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet – Samba Jazz/Jazz Samba – Anzic Records

by | Oct 6, 2012 | Jazz CD Reviews

Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet – Samba Jazz/Jazz Samba — Anzic Records ANZ 0041, 58:40 *****:
(Duduka Da Fonseca – drums, leader; Anat Cohen tenor saxophone, clarinet; Helio Alves piano; Guilherme Monteiro – guitar; Leonardo Cioglia acoustic bass) 
Duduka Da Fonseca comes from that exotic area of Rio de Janeiro known as Ipanema.  Born in 1951 during the inception and early stages of bossa nova he listened as he grew up with many of the known and famous proponents of the genre and jazz samba.  Da Fonseca was self-taught beginning at the age of 13.  A year later he formed his own samba jazz trio called Bossa Trio which included his brother Miguel Da Fonseca on bass.  They performed for many years in concerts playing bossa nova/samba jazz and appeared on several television shows.
He eventually played and recorded with the likes of  Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gerry Mulligan, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Tom Harrell, Lee Konitz, Herbie Mann, Joe Henderson, Kenny Barron, Nancy Wilson, Slide Hampton, Toshiko Akiyoshi, George Mraz, John Patitucci, Bill Charlap and so many others.  He is credited as appearing on over 200 albums.
The Samba Jazz Sextet Mandengo was formed by Da Fonseca with Raul Mascarenha who played for several years in the ‘70s until Duduka relocated to New York in 1975.  Duduka had a dream to play with American jazz musicians to further his quest of blending the musical cultures of Brazil and America.  He played and recorded in Brazil with a plethora of Latin musicians, not the least of which was Milton Nascimento and OSESP (São Paulo Symphony Orchestra) and so many others.  Duduka released his first solo album, Samba Jazz Fantasia on the Anzic label and was nominated for the 45th Latin Grammy in 2002.
Duduka Da Fonseca without a doubt has become a brilliant leader in the integrating of jazz samba and samba jazz which has been his passion for many years.  He is the leader of Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet, and Duduka Da Fonseca Trio.  He is co-leader of Trio Da Paz, the Brazilian Trio and Duduka Da Fonseca & Helio Alves – “Samba Jazz and the music of Jobim”.
I found Samba Jazz/Jazz Samba to be not only brilliant, but a wonderful mix of rhythms as well as a blending of bright melodic sounds stretching and blending at times between bluesy and really jazzy.  The musicians have to be the cream of the crop to sound this good.  They are a tight-playing group.  The most amazing to me was Anat Cohen as she played her sax and clarinet parts throughout the album.  This quintet paints a sound in your ear that I could describe as closing your eyes and imagining you have just walked into an intimate night club scene.  I heard sounds of what used to be called modern jazz worked in a much more fluid and lyrical way.
“Depois Da Chuva” is the opener to this album and a great start.  This has a melody that alternated between sounding a little on the blues minor sound then at the end the phrase jumped to a melodic major sound.  The song starts with unison playing of the sax, piano and a some responses from guitar for the opening which reoccurs through the first part of the song.  It slips into the main melody and displays some great sax work from Cohen.  All this accented by the excellent drum work from Duduka.  The tune is well choreographed for the soloists to dance through.
“Sabor Carioca” starts with almost 45 seconds of Duduka playing his drum set in a great Latin display.  The song then breaks out with Monteiro on guitar stepping out quickly for awhile skillfully picking a flying carioca melody, followed by Cohen on sax, then piano, then each trade off on each other ending with a bit of a chorus playing in harmony and all ended on a harmonious note.
“The Peacocks” brought tears to my eyes as I listened.  Up until this time I thought the best rendition of this song I ever heard was done by Stan Getz on tenor saxophone.  Anat Cohen performed this exquisitely on clarinet and I am in awe.  So beautifully done.
“Blues Connotation” is a bright moving tune with the samba beat where everyone takes a turn with the main melody.  It sort of moves your spirit. The only thing I missed from it is a bit of the cuica.  There is an excellent rendering of bass during this song by Cioglia.
“Flying Over Rio” is a lovely romantic tune that would make a good late night theme song.  It starts with Cohen dancing the melody with the Samba rhythm, followed by a similar dance on the piano by Alves.  Coglia keeps time on the acoustic bass for all of them through the song.
I believe Duduka Da Fonseca set his goal high on this album for the fusing of samba jazz with jazz samba and more than successfully fulfilled it.  I can honestly say I would go to see this quintet if I had the opportunity.  It certainly is a compliment as to what you can expect out of the New York jazz scene. The recording quality is excellent.  The liner notes and CD housed are in an attractive tri-fold cardboard carrier.
1. Depois Da Chuva; 2. Sabor Carioca; 3. Rancho Das Nuvens; 4. Blues Connotation; 5. Obstinado; 6. The Peacocks; 7. Q Guarana; 8. Flying Over Rio; 9. Dona Olimpia; 10. Melancia.
—Tim Taylor

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