Featured photo of Antonio Adolfo by Paul Constantinides
Antonio Carlos Jobim may be one of the most revered Brasilian musicians in recent memory and few musicians keep his musical legacy alive as assiduously as pianist and pedagogue Antonio Adolfo. Another keeper of the flame is the drummer Duduka Da Fonseca and his vocalist-wife Maucha Adnet, who sang in one of Mr Jobim’s last groups. However difference between the repertory music the two “supporters” of Tom Jobim’s legacy is that Mr Adolfo’s interpretations, while featuring original arrangements, remains largely close to the harmonic and rhythmic conceptions of Mr Jobim’s compositions, while Mr Da Fonseca has tended to unearth little-known gems from the exquisite songbook of the master and giving his performances a more pronounced swing as opposed to the homegrown seductively sashaying Bossa Nova samba that Jobim’s rhythms evoked.
Mr Adolfo also treads the straight and narrower, when it comes to honouring Tom Jobim’s legacy and he proves this once again by featuring the more familiar songs from the great Brasilian’s book on Jobim Forever. In fact by returning – one again – to these songs the pianist makes the case for considering these “standards” in their own right, quite apart from what we refer to as standards from the Great American Songbook. Moreover Mr Adolfo’s eloquent arrangements – featuring dusky horns – serves to put his own imprimatur on the songs associated with Tom Jobim.
Or put another, more edifying way, in allowing the songs to speak to him in the quietude of his heart the pianist puts a very special, personal spin on what would otherwise be standard and familiar fare. The music is swathed in hushed tones and come alive with earthy, saturated colours. This may have everything to do with the horn arrangements, but make no mistake, while reeds, woodwinds, and brass are eloquently spoken for here, Mr Adolfo’s pianism is superb and beyond reproach. His touch is luminous and feather-light. His solo flights are airy, but never too long. He seems to swoop and flutter close to the melody, never distracting from the singularly simple, yet statuesque beauty of Tom Jobim’s melodic elegance.
He is joined – again – by the great Brasilian bassist Jorge Helder, a master of tone, and melodic and rhythmic excellence. Rafael Barata and Paulo Braga – who graced Mr Jobim’s late ensemble – are the two drummers who alternate on various songs here, and each plays with magnificent restraint. Together with percussionist Dada Costa the men create warmth and a profusion of percussive colours on the canvas of this music. Mr Adolfo’s master-stroke is to give free rein to guitarist Lula Galvão, who adds glorious harmonic beauty to this music. This is best expressed in the sculpted lines of “A Felicidade”, and the long inventions of “Estrada do Sol” as well as “Amparo/Por Toda a Minha Vida”, which incorporates a svelte introduction written by Mr Adolfo.
Track list – 1: The Girl from Ipanema; 2: Wave; 3: A Felicidade; 4: How Insensitive; 5: Favela [O Morro Não Tem Vez]; 6: Inutil Paisagem; 7: Agua de Beber; 8: Amparo [Intro: Por Toda a Minha Vida]; 9: Estrada do Sol
Personnel – Antonio Adolfo: piano and arrangements; Lula Galvão: guitar 1 – 7, 9; Jorge Helder: contrabass; Paulo Braga: drums [4 – 6, 8, 9]; Rafael Barata: drums [1 – 3, 7] and percussion [1, 3, 5, 6, 8]; Dada Costa: percussion [2 – 5, 7, 8]; Jessé Sadoc: trumpet and flugelhorn [4, 6, 8, 9]; Danilo Sinna: alto saxophone; Marcelo Martins: tenor and soprano saxophones, and flutes [4, 9]; Rafael Rocha: trombone; Zé Renato: vocals 
Released – 2021
Label – AAM Music 
Runtime – 49:01
Rique Pantoja: Live in Los Angeles
The West Coast of the United States has had a rather long – and celebrated – association with the music of Brasil. Rique Pantoja is tapping into the Brasilliance on his Live in Los Angeles album. Moacir Santos created by far the greatest series music when he moved to Pasadena, California from Brasil in 1967. He quickly began turning heads with his spectacular take on the lineage of the [post bebop] cool, melding it with the music of his home-state, Pernambuco, in his very singular mix of other dance forms from Brasil. Other influential Brasilian musicians whose artistry collided with West Coast Cool were Cesar Camargo Mariano, Airto and Flora Purim [when she was there once upon a time] to name a few Brasilians who influenced the North American West Coast sound.
Rique Pantoja, by virtue of his extraordinary musicianship, his long-limbed compositions that seem to roll along with their exquisite, naturally danceable rhythms, can also lay claim to this august line of musicians. His music, captured on this beautifully-recorded album seems to express the sheer joy – the alegria – of being alive and in love. The composer [and pianist] seems to indulge fully his predisposition for dreamscapes as he is on stage, allowing the lyrical saxophonist [and flutist] Steve Tavaglione to stretch and take extraordinary melodic and harmonic excursions with winding, lyrical lines of his own seemingly intoxicated by the enraptured emotions ensconced in the music.
The pianist’s poetic fantasies – such as we listen to on “Da Baiana” – evoke images of voluptuous eloquence in the form of a sultry, baiana, rhythmically hip-swishing her way down along fine white sand of the Coconut Coast in Bahia. With rippling keyboard grooves, Mr Pantoja conjures vivid, lifelike imagery of surf beating around us, while Mr Tavaglione’s flute, with cascading lines from the guitar of Ricardo Silveira wail and moan and whistle melodically. Meanwhile the percussionist – Cassio Duarte – and drummer Joel Taylor – re-create the sizzle and steamy seduction of baiana’s rolling rhythm along with the deep rumble of the bass played with extraordinary facility by Jimmy Earl.
“Arpoador” is one of the finest songs on the album that had already mesmerised the audience with its tintinnabulation of the keyboards introducing the opening strains of Mr Pantoja’s magical and mystical song. Even under the Brasilliance of “1000 Watts” the audience seems to be under the hypnotic spell of the music from then on… a spell that is only broken when Rique Pantoja and this marvelous ensemble gently awaken them with the balladic – and balletic – aural dreamscape of “Pra Lili”, to close a beautiful set that offers an astonishing insight into Mr Pantoja’s artistic conception.
Tracks – 1: Arpoador; 2: Julinho; 3: 1000 Watts; 4: Da Baiana; 5: Bebop Kid; 6: Que Loucura; 7: Morena; 8: Pra Lili
Musicians – Ricardo Silveira: guitar; Steve Tavaglione: saxophones and flute; Rique Pantoja: keyboards and vocals; Jimmy Earl: bass; Joel Taylor: drums; Cassio Duarte: percussion
Released – 2022
Label – Moondo Music [MDO-2022
Runtime – 1:08:13
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