Charles Mingus would have loved the way Claudio Roditi plays his horn. He is most like Clarence “Gene” Shaw. And like Shaw, Roditi knows the importance of the space between the notes; when to play a note; a quick flurry, or merely a short intricate phrase… and when not to play. His voice is unique; his sound is bright, delivered in short, round bursts of emotion and energy. And because he is one of the most thoughtful musicians around, he almost never plays a wrong note. On Brazilliance x4 Claudio Roditi is on top of his game, once again. Moreover like the great bebop musicians, whom Roditi no doubt admires—men like Bird and Diz, who was his boss for several years in the United Nations Orchestra—he solos with sonorous rhythm and a quiet fire always aglow, but is the epitome of brevity, always… In and out in a few bars, perhaps a chorus or two. This way the music is always magnificently highlighted, while Roditi and his cohort merely embellish its intricacies in short gentle bursts.
This is Roditi’s first Resonance record and it is a splendid one indeed. He is joined here by three stellar, first call musicians—Helio Alves on piano, Leonardo Cioglia on bass and Duduka da Fonseca on drums. Their expert reading of the charts is near perfect and the empathy with the trumpeter and flugelhorn player is significant. In a day when showboating is the order of the day, each of the musicians here are practically self-effacing. But the music is not. The tunes here cover much ground in contemporary Brasilian music—from Victor Assis Brasil, Johnny Alf, João Donato, Durval Ferreira and Raul de Souza—a Miles Davis chart, “Tune Up” and four Roditi originals. All the songs are played in the Bossa Nova mode and the energy is kept up throughout the record.
Roditi’s original tribute to the great Brasilian percussionist and composer, “Song para Nana,” is a dreamy excursion into a glowing soundscape, creating an almost halo-like quality for the track. Alves solos with exquisite taste and is also mighty glissando. Duduka da Fonseca is restrained and his splashes of brassy color on the cymbals stoke the composition throughout. “Tema para Duduka” has a sturdier bossa nova rhythm and showcases the drummer’s unbridled skill to great effect. The second half of the song belongs to Duduka da Fonseca, who turns his arms and legs, sticks and drums and cymbals into a harmonic and rhythmic constellation. Of course none of this would be complete without the steady strutting of Leonardo Cioglia, who provides a perfect foil for Fonseca to take the song into the stratosphere.
The Brasilian standards at the start of the record are wonderfully recast and in doing so Roditi is also giving notice that he is not merely a Brasilian with a penchant for jazz, but also a soulful Carioca at heart. “A Vontade Mesmo,” “E Nada Mais” and “Quem Diz Que Sabe” provide ample evidence of this. The live track at the back end of the record and the superb sound throughout make this record one of the finest in 2008/09 so far.
Track list – 1: Pro Zeca; 2: E Nada Mais; 3: A Vontade Mesmo; 4: Tune Up; 5: Rapaz de Bem; 6: Dinner by Five; 7: Song for Nana; 8: Tema para Duduka; 9: Quem Diz Que Sabe; 10: Gemini Man.
Personnel – Claudio Roditi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Helio Alves: piano; Leonardo Cioglia: bass; Duduka da Fonseca: drums.
Released – 2009
Label – Resonance Records
Runtime – 56:05
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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