Moacir Santos – Ouro Negro (Black Gold) – Adventure Music

by | Aug 25, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Moacir Santos – Ouro Negro (Black Gold) – Adventure Music – AM1011 2 – (2 CDs) 59:12, 56:12  *****:

Composer, conductor, arranger, musician, and vocalist Moacir Santos is a legend among Brazilian musicians. His story is a rags to riches tale. Born in 1926, orphaned at three years old, he grew up in the rural state of Pernambuco in Brazil without knowing when he was born or how old he was. Santos only discovered his real age in the 1980s. By age 14, he had mastered most of the band instruments, while concentrating most of his efforts on the saxophone, and also acquired proficiency on the banjo, guitar, and mandolin. This was also the age that he ran away from his foster home in search of greater opportunities. Santos landed in the burgeoning music scene of Brazil in the 1940s and eventually became a star sax player for the Rádio Nacional in Rio De Janeiro. From there he moved into conducting and composing—writing songs, instrumentals, and even movie soundtracks. His compositions are a rich, spicy mélange of pop, Latin, folk, jazz, and big band music.

Most of the music on these two albums date from the 1960s and 70s, though there are a few recent and fresh compositions in the mix. And most have been recorded on albums from that time. Santos recorded for Blue Note Records during that time. This double-CD set represents Santos’s second chance at revisiting and re-interpreting his own music. In this endeavor, he is beautifully assisted by a stunning array of virtuosi musicians captured in a first-rate recording. Keep in mind that practically every track is a polished gem worthy of your attention, but there are a few standout performances. In “Mãe Iracema” (disc 1, track 6) and “Coisa n° 9” (disc 1, track 12), the sultry and smooth alto sax playing of Nailor Proveta is awesome. In “Kathy” (disc 1, track 10), Teco Cardosa hands in a flute performance that is as stirring as it is beautiful. On the same tune it is deftly balanced by Jessé Sadoc’s exquisite flugelhorn solo, who contributes several impressive solos, as in “Kamba,” (disc 1, track 11) and “Coisa n° 7” (disc 2, track 1). One of my favorite cuts is “Kamba”—the driving line of the baritone sax in is perfection. Another is “Coisa n° 4” (disc 2, track 5), with its persistent and repetitive bass line from the baritone sax (Teco Cardosa), trombone (Vittor Santos), and bass trombone (Gilberto Oliveira). It is flawless.

Like I said earlier, nearly every song and performance is perfect. Even the production values on the packaging are top class. The design is understated and elegant in black and gold. Included is a 40-page booklet with the background and history of Santos himself and the songs that are included in this collection. If you want a great introduction to Moacir Santos and his music, or if you just like Latin-flavored jazz, get this set. You won’t find anything better.

Disc 1 Tracks: Coisa n° 5 – Nanã, Suk-cha, Coisa n° 6, Coisa n° 8 – Navegacão, Amphibious, Mãe Iracema, Coisa n° 1, Sou Eu. . . , Bluishmen, Kathy, Kamba, Coisa n° 9, Orfeu, Amalgamation.
Disc 2 Tracks: Coisa n° 7, Coisa n° 2, Lamento Astral, Maracatu, Coisa n° 4, Coisa n° 10, Jequié, Oduduá, Coisa n° 3, Anon, Quermesse, De Repente, Maracatucuté, Bodas de Prata Dourada.

– Hermon Joyner

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