There is something about this new Brasilian-born pianist, Samuel Quinto that strikes a vibrant chord in the inner ear. Perhaps it has to do with his wonderful grasp of the joy that abounds in the Brasilian northeast… his sense of “alegria.” Perhaps it also has to do with his mature approach, wonderful use of dynamics, his expression and his innate ability to allow the tonal center of his music to shine. He has an exquisite ear and his hands are independently controlled by his mind that separates melody and harmony when required. Quinto, as a result, makes his fingers tingle on the keys, rumble and guffaw and cry with chords from which he wrings laughter and sadness and pure joy.
On Salsa’ N Jazz he plays with primal hypnotic rhythm calling out to the roots of his music that reach the deepest Africa, via the folksy corners of Brasil and Spain – which means the nooks and crannies of the Mediterranean of the Mid East, India and Europe. The result is a record on which these cultures come together in a flash point that warms the blood of the soul. His playing is muscular and intuitive and smacks of an artist who likes to invent on the fly, to constantly evolve.
At the starting point of Quinto’s playing is also a deep symbiotic relationship with forró in all its vibrant glory – “baiao”, “xote” and “arrasta-pe” – all elegantly captured and twinkling when his fingers touch the ebony and ivory. The most joyous and memorable display of this is his interpretation of Victor Young’s “Stella by Starlight,” which is given a rousing forró treatment and reaches fever pitch as the choruses of the song unravel. It pays to mention that on this song – as on the others on this record – Brasilian bassist, Marcos Borges and Cuban drummer, Manuel Santiesteban shine with their wonderful interplay.
Samuel Quinto is also an accomplished composer and shows maturity and a sense of adventure with the rhythmic variety that he presents here. A rumba: “Quinto’s Rhumba,” which incidentally is played in a delightfully chopped style reminiscent of Thelonious Monk. “Jaci” is an exciting, dancing song that crosses Cuban rhythms with a hint of Brasil. “Bolero To Preta,” a loving sketch of the pianist’s mother suggests that he has plenty of inner clave. “Ficou No Meio” is simply wonderful forró that turns giddy as Quinto, Borges and Santiesteban rumple the harmony and rhythm gloriously. “Kalimba Mulêle” rumbles in the deepest African rhythms. “Vôo Da Andorinha” is a chorinho that, quite simply, reveals Quinto’s “Alma de Nordeste.” And “Isabel (Para Você)” is a beautiful ballad that glitters and glimmers as its emotional tonal colors begin to unfold.
“Salsa’ N Jazz” is a flagship song that captures all that is unforgettable about this record: A pianist with the ability to dazzle quietly as right hand flies exotically and left hand constantly invents harmony and rhythm. Here is a pianist of great promise – who carries with him his rich Brasilian tradition and indeed all Latin America into an exciting new musical landscape.
Tracks: Quinto’s Rhumba; Jaci; Bolero To Preta; Salsa’ N Jazz; Ficou No Meio; Kalimba Mulêle; Isabel (Para Você); Vôo Da Andorinha; Stella By Starlight.
Personnel: Samuel Quinto: piano; Marcos Borges: bass; Manuel Santiesteban: drums.
Samuel Quinto on the web: www.samuelquinto.com
Review written by: Raul da Gama