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Brasilian Report

Phil Marucci: Next Stop Brazil

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Phil Marucci - Next Stop Brazil

Phil Marucci - Next Stop BrazilYou would be forgiven if you thought you were listening to a Brasilian while playing Next Stop Brazil by Phil Marucci. The Portuguese is near perfect even to a Brasilian ear on this recording. But what is even more amazing is Mr Marucci’s diction and articulation, which is so soulfully Brasilian that his phrasing is redolent of alegria e saudade in a manner that is so emotional he appears to be reincarnated as a carioca, a paulista; even a baiano depending on how any given song demands to be sung.

Indeed, the wonderful repertoire on this recording “speaks” to Mr Marucci is a very intimate manner. As a result, he is able not only to tell a story as the composer intended it to be told, but also to articulate the emotions of the characters in the songs with precision and nuance. This aspect of his vocal ability is especially wonderful on the manner in which he sculpts the long inventions of “Quero um Xamego”. He is, of course, aided and abetted by the beautiful and sultry voice of Vanessa Falabella and the inspired performance of the truly gifted accordionist (and pianist) Vitor Gonçalves, standing in for the song’s legendary composer and accordionist Dominguinhos.

Mr Marucci is one of a growing number of Americans who continue to fall prey to the charms of Brasilian music. But he is in a small minority of artists who are not simply smitten with the music, subsumed by its passion and emotion, and work on aligning their craft with the unique demands of Brasilian emotion, the idiosyncrasies of diction, inflection and rhythm of spoken and sung Brasilian-Portuguese. So, you almost never feel as if the lyrics are phonetically rendered through the recording. One is led to believe that either Mr Marucci has not only mastered the language but has the innate ability to “shape-shift” and assume a Brasilian body and soul. This is something very few non-Brasilians can claim. Add to that a voice that has the texture of raw silk, rustling in a smoky ambience and you have something quite remarkable in the form of Mr Marucci.

The chance of success is substantially magnified with the inclusion here of some of the finest Brasilian musicians in the United States. Musicians such as the great drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, his wife and the ineffably wonderful vocalist Maucha Adnet, percussion colourist Cyro Baptista, Vitor Gonçalves, reeds and woodwinds maestros Jorge Continentino and Carlos Eduardo da Costa (who also contributes gorgeous arrangements to “Quero um Xamego” and “Flor de Maracuja”), and bassists Eduardo Belo and Gustavo Amarante. Add to that the magnificent guitar of Paul Meyers and some incomparable writing from that other honorary Brasilian Klaus Müller and last, but not least, some of the greatest repertoire available in a Brasilian Songbook and you have the perfect recipe for a mistura fina, which is exactly why this is an album to absolutely die for.

Track list – 1: Batucada Surgiu; 2: Chiclete Com Banana; 3: Next Stop Brazil; 4: Samba Do Soho; 5: Lugar Comum; 6: Eu Vim da Bahia; 7: Quero Um Xamego; 8: Flor De Maracuja; 9: Alegre Menina; 10: Coração Vagabundo; 11: Sina; 12: Mambembe

Personnel – Phil Marucci: vocals (1 – 8, 10 – 12), piano (1 – 12) and whistling (4, 11); Vitor Gonçalves: accordion (3, 7); Paul Meyers: guitar (1, 2, 4 – 12); Claudio Roditi: trumpet (6); Jorge Continentino: flute (1 – 4, 10, 11), pifano flute (7), alto flute (9)and tenor saxophone (1); Duduka Da Fonseca: drums (1 – 5, 7, 10); Cyro Baptista: percussion (1, 4 – 6, 8, 9, 11, 12); Maucha Adnet: vocals (9, 11), backing vocals (4) percussion (3, 7) and triangle (8); Vanessa Falabella: vocals (3, 7) and backing vocals (2, 5, 12); Carlos Eduardo da Costa: guitar (3), electric guitar (7), backing vocals (1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10 – 12), soprano saxophone (8, 12) and arrangements (7, 8); Gustavo Amarante: electric bass (3, 5, 7 – 9, 11, 12); Eduardo Belo: contrabass (1, 2, 4, 10); Klaus Mueller: arrangements (1, 2, 4, 10)

Released – 2018
Label – Independent
Runtime – 53:33

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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Brasilian Report

Rique Pantoja: Live in Los Angeles

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Rique Pantoja

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: Live in Los Angeles
Rique Pantoja: Live in Los Angeles

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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