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Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet – Samba Jazz – Jazz Samba

Duduka Da Fonseca brings something altogether new and exciting to the art of drumming: a flair for…

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Duduka Da Fonseca brings something altogether new and exciting to the art of drumming: a flair for polyrhythmic colour that is born of a congenital connection with Afro-Brazilian percussion, a soulful familiarity with samba that comes from being a true Carioca who carries in his heart the deep experience and saudade for Rio.

Add to this the skilful manner in which the drummer drops a beat, or adds one to the already crowded, swinging clatter of his drums, complemented by the tick-a-tick-a of his ride cymbal or the swishing colours of the bevy of other brass hats he plays and every so smoothly, Duduka Da Fonseca becomes a percussion colourist who seems to sit astride many continents from Africa and Europe to North and South America. Like the proverbial painter of percussive music, Da Fonseca quite literally owns the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic dialects that define the languages of jazz and Brazilian samba.

On the ever elastic and exciting Samba Jazz – Jazz Samba, Duduka da Fonseca has fashioned music that not only glides in a bubbling, joyful manner from the dusty shuffle of the samba to the elemental ache of the Choro into the tricky realm of that fascinating rhythm of Partido Alto and its dazzling shades that create a slow mesmerism in the mind’s mind. For this Duduka Da Fonseca has also chosen well: an ensemble that is especially ready to take up the musical gauntlet and unfurl cascading harmonies onto the sheets of music. Guitarist Guilherme Monteiro is a master of light and shade in whether he is playing long, loping lines of dark and light musical notes that dance alone on in his partner in crime, the magnificent pianist, Helio Alves. The pianist is equally adept at creating his own unique tapestry of sound comprising intriguing phrases, which he turns inside out or sometimes leap-frogs over the melodic line; at other times adding surprising and delicate arpeggios that hint at new and wondrous direction that the music could take. This kind of memorable adventure rises to great heights on “Rancho Das Nuvens” and accelerates further on “Obstinado”.

Added to the magic and mystery of the music is the majestic power of Anat Cohen’s tenor saxophone, which she, on occasion, exchanges for the aching beauty of the clarinet. Her mastery of both instruments is dazzling everywhere she plays but is especially outstanding on “Depois Da Chuva,” where the burnished tenor saxophone gleams; and on Jimmy Rowles’ classic chart, “The Peacocks,” where Cohen lets her heart bleed as Duduka Da Fonseca rushes breathlessly to her aid with his superbly crafted brush-work. All the while Monteiro and Alves create a hypnotic harmony as Rowles’ song is taken to places it has never been before. The bass chair is held down by another alumnus of Duduka Da Fonseca’s earlier bands: Leonardo Cioglia.

The bassist clearly enjoys an almost secret and symbiotic relationship with the drummer. His harmonic strengths cannot be over emphasised. Cioglia is a master of the manipulation of colour and subtle shading. This is not only essential for navigating delicate sequences of the music but also for allowing the drummer to take the music to more fanciful places. And it is this relationship between Cioglia and Da Fonseca that makes the two rhythmists so unique a partnership, which in turn makes for a beautiful and memorable record.

Tracks: Depois Da Chuva; Sabor Carioca; Rancho Das Nuvens; Blues Connotation; Obstinado; The Peacocks; O Guarana; Flying Over Rio; Dona Olimpia; Melancia.

Personnel: Anat Cohen: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Helio Alves: piano; Guilherme Monteiro: guitar; Leonardo Cioglia: bass; Duduka Da Fonseca: drums.

Duduka Da Fonseca – Official Website: www.dudukadafonseca.net

Label: Anzic Records

Release date: July 2012

Reviewed by: Raul da Gama

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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