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Carol Saboya: Carolina

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Carol Saboya Carolina LargeIn Brasil, among many other wonderful things, musician-families abound. Consider the Jobim, Caymmi and Assad… and you could probably find many other families where the art of music is part of genetics. Add to that the Saboya family, which comprise two that we know at this present time. The formidable musicianship of Antonio Adolfo (Saboya) has certainly been inherited by his vocalist-daughter, Carol. Her 2016 album, Carolina features some of her most piercingly beautiful renditions of songs that defines what is currently both popular and enduring about Brasilian and European music.

Carol Saboya has a glorious voice. Only a singing bird can do better. On Carolina she strives to create some of her most richly textured and lustrous-sounding portraits and other song-forms, and these will probably never sound more beautiful than in this outstanding release. The recording is intimate, as though we are seated in a salon few feet away from the performers – who therefore have no need to strain and ‘project’ as in a larger concert hall. Some of the quieter, more veiled passages in ‘Passarim’ for instance, sound quite magical, as do those in ‘Fragile’. Then to her absolute security of intonation, Carol Saboya brings an astonishing variety of vibrato, nuance and colour to carefully selected fare. Her readings of Brasilian and English music are, indeed distinctly and beautifully romantic.

Saboya is helped along the way by a group of musicians led, no doubt, by her father Antonio Adolfo and their playing too is gloriously crafted. The subtleties of each song are carefully steered away from mannerism. Musicians follow Saboya’s confident lead through sudden and dramatic drops in volume, such as we hear in ‘Olha, Maria’. All the same the inventive and emotional fullness of this masterpiece is gloriously conveyed. Every one of the musicians contributes to making this record utterly beckoning with their radiant resonance of timbre. And whether she is singing a Brasilian favourite or the music of the Beatles and Sting Carol Saboya is beautiful and articulate to all their cut and thrust, and there is never a dull moment in this recording of immediacy and bloom.

Track List: Passarim; 1 x 0; Senhoras do Amazons; Hello Goodbye; Avião; Fragile; A Felicidade; Olha, Maria; Faltando um Pedaço; Zanzibar.

Personnel: Carol Saboya: vocal; Antonio Adolfo: piano; Marcelo Martins: flute, alto flute, soprano saxophone; Leo Amuedo: guitars; Jorge Helder: double bass; Rafael Barata: drums, percussion; André Siqueira: percussion; Claudio Spiewak: acoustic guitar (9).

Label: AAM
Release date: May 2016
Running time: 45:42
Website: carolsaboya.com
Buy music: amazon

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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Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Deo gratis…

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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