Harry Allen All-Star Brazilian Band – Flying Over Rio – Arbors ARCD19425, 77:08 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:
(Harry Allen – tenor saxophone; Klaus Mueller – piano; Guilherme Monteiro – guitar; Nilson Matta – bass; Duduka Da Fonseca – drums; Maucha Adnet – vocals)
Harry Allen is one of those tenor saxophonists that, in many ways, defies categorization. Strongly swing-oriented, his style is influenced not only by the masters such as Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, but also by his contemporaries such as Scott Hamilton and Stan Getz. In his current release Flying Over Rio, he explores Brazilian music and how it has been both adapted and adopted into North American musical forms.
There is probably no better way of starting this adventure than with the Jobim/Lees collaboration “Double Rainbow”. Bringing together a bossa nova theme with a waltz tempo, which is all held together by vocalist Maucha Adnet, is a perfect synthesis of what Allen is trying to accomplish with this album. “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” is one of those popular tunes whose origins are often forgotten, but nevertheless has attributes that seem to fit any musical style. Here, led by a sixteen-bar introduction from drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, Allen picks up the melody with some lovely phrasing before rolling out several choruses of improvisation with the addition of some nifty piano from Klaus Mueller.
It would almost be heresy to exclude “Girl From Ipanema” from a Brazilian album, so Allen and the band avoid this apostasy with a lilting arrangement, with guitarist Guilherme Monteiro taking the opening solo lead. Then Allen chimes in with his lyrical take on the composition, evoking the ghost of Stan Getz. The group dives into the purely Brazilian songs with gusto and offers vocalist Maucha Adnet lots of room to explore the genre on “Bonita” and “Eu e a Briza”. On the evocative “Mojave” Allen and bassist Nilson Matta offer a tenor-bass duo which is an intricate interplay between the two with a complex time signature. As for the title tune “Flying Over Rio” it is a samba in a reflexive mode with Allen, pianist Mueller, and bassist Matta all at the top of their game. The session closes with “Love Dance” taken at a barely perceptible bossa rhythm with Allen, guitarist Monteiro, and pianist Mueller sharing the solo space with emotion and resonance.
Lead by Harry Allen’s sturdy tenor saxophone, this inventive and versatile band brings a unique voice to the Brazilian musical experience.
TrackList: Double Rainbow; A Ship Without A Sail; The Night Has A Thousand Eyes; Bonita; Girl From Ipanema; Bute Papo; Copacabana; Tristeza De Nos Dois; Eu e a Briza; Mojave; Flying Over Rio; Serra De Estrella; Lamento No Morro; Piano Na Mangueirra; Love Dance