It doesn’t take much any longer – not after Jurassic Park – to imagine how amber could be a miraculous, almost living crucible of life on earth. It seems also in the DNA of Edson Natale – a musical alchemist – to imagine how he could divine the viscous flow of this translucent fossil resin to create musical ornaments of the most fabulous kind that tumbles and roars as a river in flood. Naturally this river would be steeped in the musical tradition of Brasil; amber is, after all a fossil resin. But once this resin comes alive in Mr Natale’s music it is no longer preternatural, but something gloriously new and manifests itself in seven [that mystical number] musical personae, each characteristic of human nature and the live-changing events that affect this nature itself.
None of this is as esoteric as it might seem. In fact, in Âmbar – Os Afluentes da Música, each song represents values called “Afluentes” which, in their most literal renditions, might connote wealth but in their most poetic form evoke the virtues. These seven “afluentes”, set to music [and spoken word], guide us [provoking our own individual humanness] on a wondrous journey, where we interact with other human beings sharing lofty ideals such as respect, acceptance, consideration, appreciation, listening, openness, affection, empathy and love towards each other; all of which is transmitted through this extraordinary music.
It is significant, I believe, that Edson Natale, in his prodigious artistry, has managed to create an artistic patina where tradition exists in a manner so accessible that is eminently relevant in today’s day and age. Increasingly albeit not surprisingly in the Brasil of today more artists are becoming not only aware of this imperative, but also putting it to great artistic use. I say “not surprisingly” because it seems that in a place such as Brasil, which is founded upon and bubbles underfoot with its African and Indigenous roots, seems to keep this alive with minimal effort as it worships at the altar of the glories of such cultural abundance.
Still, it is Mr Natale’s singular artistic genius that enables him find a way to make this come alive in the poetry of his music. His thought-provoking and eloquent arrangements – bolstered by his articulate performance on the violão, he has turned this Âmbar into a musical metaphor of significant proportions. Directing the artistry of a stellar cast of musicians – among them clarinetist Nailor Proveta, the incomparable Vanessa Moreno, accordionist Toninho Ferragutti, bassists Ana Karina Sebastião, Ronaldo Gama and Paulo Brandão, and a host of other virtuosos – Mr Natale holds us, his listeners, rapt with his mesmerising music. With each piece unraveling; peeling away layer upon layer of amber to give up its mysteries we find ourselves experiencing the idiomatic beauty of Mr Natale’s extraordinary musical epic as revealed in Âmbar – Os Afluentes da Música.
Track list – 1: Afluente das Diferenças; 2: Afluente dos Lugares; 3: Afluente do Futuro; 4: Afluente das Contradições; 5: Afluente das Intuições; 6: Afluente dos Afetos e das Festas; 7: Afluente das Palavras
Personnel – Edson Natale: compositions, voice [4, 6, 7], violão and tenor violão ; Nailor Proveta: clarinet [1, 3]; Hugo Hori: flute ; Beatrice Pacheco: soprano saxophone ; Danilo Rocha: alto saxophone ; Leonardo Brandão: baritone saxophone ; Toninho Ferragutti: accordion ; Webster Santos: mandolin ; Gustavo Ruiz: guitar and SH-2000 synthesizer , electronic tambura ; Tuco Marcondes: banjo ; Manoel Cordeiro: guitar ; Lincoln Antonio: piano ; Ana Karina Sebastião: contrabass ; Ronaldo Gama: contrabass ; Paulo Brandão: contrabass ; João Taubkin: guembri ; Maurício Badé: congas [1, 7], maracas e bolachão , percussion [2, 3, 5, 6] and ganzá, guiro, cuíca and gonguê ; Alex Braga: violin [2, 5]; Paulo Freire: viola ; Patrícia Ribeiro: cello and cello arrangements ; Vanessa Moreno: vocals [2, 3, 6]; Ná Ozzetti: vocals ; Sérgio Vaz: vocals ; Mauricio Pereira: keyboards and vocals ; Elizah Rodrigues: vocals ; Salloma Salomão (Portuguese), Debora Pill (German), Gabriel Natal (Greek), Danilo Salgado (Portuguese and English), Fernando Velazquez (Spanish) and Fernanda Ramone (Chinese): vocals “cada lugar é, a sua maneira, o mundo” 
Released – 2020
Label – Spin Music [Spin 013]
Runtime – 38:21
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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