Taking an audiophile journey to Brazil with John Patitucci…
John Patitucci, bass – Irmao De Fe – Newvelle NV007LP – vinyl ****1/2:
(John Patitucci – acoustic and electric bass; Yotam Silberstein – acoustic and electric guitars; Rogerio Boccato – drums, percussion)
The first-year subscription series of audiophile LPs from Newvelle Records set a standard for pristine acoustics and coffee table-worthy gate-fold albums. The 180gm clear vinyl felt substantial, and once on the turntable, the music presented matched the presentation of the package. It is worth highlighting the first year of their subscription series:
The Frank Kimbrough Quintet (NV001LP) provided straight ahead horn/piano based jazz with tracks both wistful and buoyant. Jack DeJohnette’s solo piano effort (NV002LP) was contemplative and comforting, deeply creative, much like Keith Jarrett, with whom Jack has provided backing for years. Saxophonist Noah Preminger (NV003LP) explored the many faces of blues ballads in a deeply satisfying effort.
One of Don Friedman’s final projects (NV004LP) before his passing was a Newvelle project honoring the unsung compositional talents of trumpeter, Booker Little, presented with piano as the main instrument sans horn. It demanded rapt attention to fully appreciate Friedman’s skills in sharing the complex charts of Little, so advanced in sophistication and passion for a musician who did not live to see his 25th birthday. Ben Allison’s drummer-less trio (NV005LP) of bass, tenor/clarinet, and steel string guitar was an adventurous tribute to Jim Hall and Jimmy Giuffre, both giants in chamber and third stream jazz circles. The acoustics were revelatory.
The season was closed with the pairing of pianist Leo Genovese, bassist Esperanza Spaulding, and drummer Jack DeJohnette (NV006LP) exploring largely South American based compositions expanding jazz boundaries with tempo shifts, interludes, and swirling undercurrents. The vocal talents of Ms. Spaulding was icing on the cake.
This leads us to the second series of albums from Newvelle. Just released is another South American-flavored entry, this time primarily from Brazil. Esteemed bassist John Patitucci is teamed with guitarist, Yotam Silberstein, and drummer/percussionist, Rogerio Boccato to explore compositions from Brazilian masters, Milton Nascimento, Jobim, Gismonti, Buarque, Garoto, and Dominguinhos. Though they may not be household names to American jazz fans, they are standard bearers for the idioms of Brazilian world music.
Newvelle’s founders Elan Mehler, and Jean-Christophe Morisseau do not provide much in the way of liner notes to their gate-fold packages, but here they are both needed and appreciated. This is because the weighty themes of the compositions do not match the often gentle, relaxing groove of the bass, guitar, and drums.
The title track concerns a battle for freedom. Though there are no lyrics, the notes present the Portuguese “mesmo a dor vai te sorrir- even your pain will smile at you.” Patitucci and Silberstein are simpatico partners soaring together while Boccatto stirs the musical stew.
“Catavento” has Boccatto “ending sentences” provided by bass and guitar. Heavy on percussion, it ends much too soon, like many of the tracks on the LP. “Desvairada” would be a great track for flamenco dancers to explore, as it only misses requisite hand claps to paint the full picture. “Olha Maria” from Jobim has the bowed bass playing a sublime achingly beautiful melody dealing with a love set free.
“Samba do Grande Amor” has a mostly straight ahead jazz tempo with subtle shifts. “As Vitrines”, an ode to a lover ballad, features Patitucci’s big meaty bass painting broad strokes like a free form artist adding thick paint to a canvas. The closing track, “Sinha”, has a theme of a slave being beaten for seeing his master’s wife bathing in the river. The pathos of the lyrics provide a quandary to a listener mesmerized by the beauty of the Brazilian intoxicating rhythms.
Once again Newvelle has expanded our musical horizons with crystalline acoustics supporting first class musicians stretching out in new directions. It’s a journey for discriminating audiophiles.
Side A: Irmao De Fe, Catavento, Pr’um Samba, Desvairada, Olha Maria
Side B: Samba do Grande Amor, As Vitrines, Nilopolitano, Sinha