Choros & Alegria is a new recording of music by Moacir Santos and arranged by Mario Adnet and Zé Nogueira. The songs span nearly the entire career of Santos, from the 1940s to the 1990s. Starting as a saxophone player and then moving on to conducting and composing, Santos has become something of a legend in the world of jazz music. His music takes elements of jazz, folk, Latin, and contemporary classical music and mixes them to create his own style of Latinized jazz. Most songs on this recording are kept small scale and intimate by limiting the number of musicians and selecting only the best players. Adnet and Noguiera also create interesting aural textures in some arrangements by doubling accordion with baritone sax or soprano sax with muted trumpet. Each number is exquisitely composed, arranged, and performed.
Even with the best music, great performances always come from the musicians involved in the project. It’s the same on this recording. The steamy and dreamy alto sax intro by Nailor Proveta in “Paraiso” (track 3) with the military marching band snare drum beat captures the essence of Santos and his music. Seductively phrased and performed, Proveta provides the perfect context for this track. Ricardo Silveira delivers a sly and understated electric guitar solo on “Saudade De Jacques” (track 6) framed by the main theme performed in tradeoffs and duets by Marcos Nimrichter on accordion and Teco Cardoso on baritone sax. On “Ricaom” (track 8), a string ensemble is used against a backdrop of percussion that is made up of guitar (Zé Paulo Becker), seven-string guitar (Marcello Goncalves), and mandolin (Ronaldo Do Bandolim), who together make up the Trio Madeira Brazil. The bright and sparkling rhythmic performances, particularly by Do Bandolim, of these three are the highlight of the CD. American trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis is featured on “Rota ∞” (track 12), in a solo that sings as much it swings. Marsalis’s improvisational skills are inventive and emotive as he is accompanied in this especially lush arrangement.
Choros & Alegria is a fine sampling of Moacir Santos’s music that is superbly performed and recorded. Highly recommended.
Tracks: Agora Eu Sei, Outra Coisa, Paraiso, Vaidoso, Flores, Saudade De Jacques, Cleonix, Ricaom, De Bahia Ao Ceará, Excerto No. 1, Os Lemurianos (Pãtãla), Rota ∞, Samba Diamante, Carrossel, Felipe
– Hermon Joyner