The art of the Brazilian Trio is defined by the superlative musicality of the players that comprise it: by the delicate trellis work of pianist Helio Alves, the muscularity of bassist Nilson Matta’s “harmolodicism” and rhythmic intensity and the sensuality of Duduka da Fonseca’s percussion colors.
However it is when the individualism of each artist is subsumed into the collective expression of the trio that the true beauty of the trio emerges. Thus the trio is reminiscent of the great trios of Bill Evans and of the enduring one that Keith Jarrett drives. But there is an elemental difference. Each of the members of the Brazilian Trio is informed by intense “Brazilliance” rarely heard before now. How might this unique character be detected and experienced? Firstly there is the swagger of rhythm that defines Brazilian music; one that is both primordial and refined as is any rhythmic collision between African and European cultures could possibly be. Then there is the deeply emotional nature of Brazilian melody that is characterized by an explosively joyous or elementally sad cry that is resident in the notes of the song that is sung or played by instruments.
Nowhere is this more exquisitely evident than in the miraculous song “O Cantador” This work comes from the pen of the great Dori Caymmi. While it is a magnificent composition what makes it even more so is the aching manner of its recital by the players in this trio. The sighing notes of Alves’ piano rise and fall in giant waves that wash over the throbbing soul of its characters. NIlson Matta echoes the heartbeat of their anguish and in the inspired brush-work of Duduka da Fonseca can be heard the gasps of both sadness and the catharsis that follows. This assumes almost classical proportions as the trio melds all of this narrative and emotions into a song of such majestic theatre that it explodes with visionary beauty. Elsewhere, on the NIlson Matta chart, “LVM/Direto Ao Assunto” there is, once again, the wonderful interplay between the players as they swerve their way through Matta’s tune, which swings in mood from mellow to ecstatic. But whatever the mood and whichever the spectrum of colors, these musicians are masters of the nuanced phrase and musical sentence.
Much of this has to do with being steeped in the art Brazil’s version of “deep song” or the chorinho or little cry. When this soulful cry, somewhat akin to the blues shout, is melded with the swing of the jazz idiom the ensuing music melts the heart and delights the mind to such an extent that both move the body into an everlasting dance. This is another reason why this group is unique. It has captured the high emotion of “deep song” and fused it with the elementally wild swing. Nilson Matta’s solo followed by the lilting solo on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Luiza” is a case in point. So is the feverish maracatu of Jobim’s “O Bôto”. There is much more to cheer about on this miraculous album. Perhaps this is the reason why Constelação will go down as one of the finest musical events of the year.
Tracks: Constelação; Bebe; Embalo; O Cantador; Quebra Pedra; LVM/Direto Ao Assunto; Luiza; O Bôto; Isabella; Bolivia.
Personnel: Helio Alves: piano; Nilson Matta: bass; Duduka da Fonseca: drums.
Brazilian Trio – Website: http://motema.com/artist/brazilian-trio
Label: Motéma Music
Release date: June 2012
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama