The amazing thing about Lua e Sol the new record by Mark Weinstein, is that might easily have passed like a ship in the night. It if did, it would appear to be a case of history repeating itself, for his historic recording, Cuban Roots (Catalogue Music, 1967) was similarly treated – almost as if it did not matter, when in fact it was one of the earliest and most important records of that and any time in Latin Jazz musical history. This should never happen to this record, Lua e Sol for several reasons. It is time that Weinstein takes his rightful place in musical history – somewhere near the top – as an instrumentalist, composer and innovator when it comes to letting the various idioms of music flow in the flue of his various woodwinds.
That Weinstein has both a masterful understanding of the flute, and control of its tonal palette is like a mathematical constant. That he is able to control his breath to such a superhuman extent and create such an exquisite sonic language on such a difficult instrument is all too magical. Then there is the concept or theme of this record – Lua e Sol – moon and sun, dark and light. And then there is the music itself, which when listened to reveals not only just how modern and contemporary it is, but also the allegorical side of the record. It is a musical, but also a human journey that examines the nooks and corners of darkness and light. It is inspirational to discover source of the sound and its purity… To hear how the music ascends to a superior plane… And that has only happened because Weinstein has subordinated himself to the source of creativity and its instrument – the breath of the musician and the fingers that manipulate the instrument that whirls and twirls notes, phrases and sounds.
This record uses a Brazilian medium and delves into that music milieu as well, to reveal its tonal colors in shades of black and white, dark and light, and the cool and heat of the interstellar symbols that have come to be the iconic sources of that light and dark. Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes’ “Canto de Ossanha,” and the Joao Donato/Gilberto Gil piece, “Emorio” – especially the latter – with its use of bass and alto flutes, beautifully describe the idiomatic approach to the record. The Pixinguinha songs too, though short, are remarkable as well. Weinstein’s own compositional contributions to the record, “Estrelinha,” and the title track, “Lua e Sol” appear to be headed to the realm of the classic as musical programs as well as vehicles for the flute.
And of course there is the interplay between the masterful musicians who make up the quartet. Romero Lubambo has always been on the cutting edge of the guitar. His is a sensitive and emotional approach to the instrument and he is the consummate accompanist and soloist whenever he is called to play that role. Nilson Matta is, together with Zeca Assumpçao and only a handful of others, the premier bassist to come out of the Southern part of the American continent. His work with the great Don Pullen on the Afro Brazilian Connection records is now legendary. Mata is exquisite in the bowed entry to the title track. And Cyro Baptista joins Nana Vasconcelos and Paulinho da Costa in a sublimely skilled percussion triumvirate. Baptista is not conjurer of such immense skill that comparisons to someone like Liszt on the piano would not be such a stretch.
Remarkably, this record is not just a profound musical statement, but also one of the most entertaining expressions in sound as well. It is also a master class in the playing of the flute. It is one for a time capsule of this day and age.
Tracks: Canto de Ossanha; Estrelinha; Floresta; Isaura; Choro da Gafiera; Lua e Sol; Emorio; Segura Ele; Pra Machuchar Meu Coraçao; Upa Negrinho.
Personnel: Mark Weinstein: concert, alto and bass flutes; Romero Lubambo: classical guitar; Nilson Matta: acoustic bass; Cyro Baptista: Brazilian percussion.
Review written by: Raul da Gama