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Letieres Leite e Orkestra Rumpilezz: Moacir de todos os Santos



Letieres Leite e Orkestra Rumpilezz
Maestro Letieres Leite e Orkestra Rumpilezz [YouTube screenshot]

This album brings together two of the [arguably] greatest Brasilian musical ideologues: Moacir Santos, whose music is the subject of the album, Moacir de Todos os Santos, and the intrepid Letieres Leite e Orkestra Rumpilezz, who pioneered a wholly new harmonic and rhythmic concept for – and approach to – the music performed in large ensembles.

In his infinite wisdom [and some puckish irony] Mr Leite begins by calling the album Moacir Saint for Everybody and goes even further inn creating interpretations that are not without his [Mr Leite’s] singular brand of precocity, for the members of his Orkestra Rumpilezz who interpret the brilliant music of Mr Santos.

Further indication that this is an inspired album of music is Mr Leite’s choice of the music to remember Mr Santos by is that of all the superb recordings that the master left is to remember him by his album, Coisas [Things], [Forma, 1965] his earliest recording, redolent of his most enigmatic music.

Letieres Leite e Orkestra Rumpilezz: Moacir de todos os Santos
Letieres Leite e Orkestra Rumpilezz: Moacir de todos os Santos

Moacir Santos was one of Brasilian music’s most famous sons. He was born in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, which gave Brasil some of its most iconic music, including frevo, maracatú, baião and forró, deeply steeped in Portuguese folk melodies. The rhythms are strong but slow and the beat often comes from the accordion or guitar.

Mr Santos took all of these melodies and rhythms echoing through his childhood and transposed them to the woodwinds – primarily the alto and baritone saxophone, which he mastered. He then further adapted the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic concepts and patterns and fused them with sophisticated improvisations, creating an infinite flow of melodic and harmonic variations the like of which no one had ever heard of before.

This drew great Brasilian artists – including legendary musicians Baden Powell, Bola Sete and Wilson Das Neves – into his inner circle [as students, no less], greatly influencing their [own] eventual musical conception, approach to and even their style of composition and performance.

Sadly, Mr Santos grew more marginalised after he moved to the US, although he became a force of nature, drawing into his orbit such US masters as Clare Fischer and Mark Levine, both of whom played on his albums.

And now it is the turn of a maverick composer, pedagogue, reeds, and woodwinds master, Letieres Leite to pay homage to an all-but-forgotten master and sainted musical figure in the cultural topography of Brasil.

The resultant album, Moacir de Todos os Santos is an unqualified masterpiece, nothing like you may ever have heard before, not only because of Mr Santos’ music but also because of Mr Leite’s own musical conception, his vision of Mr Santos’ music and – not the least – because of the unique sonic world of Orkestra Rumpilezz.

The unique sonic world of this large ensemble comes from its own, very special sound design, a result of the fact that it is formed principally of brass, winds and a thunderous percussion section that plays traditional Afro-Brasilian percussion instruments – each bringing the sound of different pitch, so as to make for a sort of percussion orchestra in its own right.

The Orkestra boasts the great Gabi Guedes, one of the greatest virtuosos on that type of drum. At the helm of affairs, masterfully conducting, and bring it all together is Mr Leite. These interpretations of Mr Santos’ Coisas are sublimely provocative symphonic versions where a hefty percussion section is entwined with the gravitas of Mr Leite’s brass and winds section.

His spruce orchestra plays with historical awareness, and offer a comparatively lithe medium tempo performance, with vivid winds and brass detailing and clearly etched textures in all the Coisas – as well as in the lone vocal [Nana], featuring Caetano Veloso. Of stiffness and pomposity there is ne’er a trace.

The nobly built introductory Coisa nº 4 that continues through the entire programme, culminating in a shimmering, truly fortissimo Coisa nº 2. This is an apt finale to a brilliant recording full of urgency, the fiery sweep of Mr Leite’s vision of this music with the lyrical impetus of Mr Santos’ originals.

At a swift though never hectic-sounding tempo, the ensemble scherzo [in each Coisa] darts and flickers rather than ambles – a reminder that this music was conceived and recorded in the rather early part of Mr Santos’ miraculous career.

Not too many discerning admirers of great Brasilian music have created repertory work from Mr Santos’ music. Mario Adnet and Anat Cohen are rare exceptions whose work is quite widely known and much appreciated. These versions of the Coisas certainly rank as fresh and exhilarating.

The wind, brass, and percussion-dominated versions build dynamic tensions in the magnificent early music of Moacir Santos. These brilliant interpretations will also bring special attention to Letieres Leite, who has sadly passed away too. And while both musicians will be sorely missed, the legacy of Mr Santos and Mr Leite – via his Orkestra Rumpilezz – will certainly continue to thrill for a lifetime and then some.

Deo gratis

YouTube Playlist – Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz: Moacir de todos os santos

Music – 1: Coisa nº 4; 2: Coisa nº 8; 3: Coisa nº 9; 4: Coisa nº 1; 5: Nanã; 6: Coisa nº 7; 7: Coisa nº 2.

Musicians – Letieres Leite: concept, arrangements, musical direction and G melody flute [solo on 5]; Luizinho do Jêje: atabaques Rum e Rumpi [solo on 7], agogô and effects; Gabi Guedes: atabaques Rum e Rumpi [solo on 7] and agogô; Tiago Nunes: timbau [solo on 5], atabaques Rumpi e Lé, agogô and caxixi; Emerson Taquari: pandeiro, surdos, timbau, atabaque Lé and caxixi; Jorge Wallace: surdos, atabaques Rumpi e Lé, agogô and timbau; Ícaro Sá: atabaques Rumpi e Lé and timbau; Kainã do Jêje: atabaqueria [solo on 7]; Rowney Scott: tenor saxophone and 1st soprano saxophone [solo on 7]; Leo Rocha: tenor saxophone and 2nd soprano saxophone; André Becker: alto saxophone [solo on 6] and 1st flute; Paulo Andrade: alto saxophone [solo on 4] and 2nd flute; Vinícius Freitas: baritone saxophone [solo on 3]; Fernando Rocha: tuba; Adaílson Rodrigues: bass trombone; Rudney Machado: trumpet and 1st flugelhorn; Guinga Scott: trumpet and 2nd flugelhorn; João Teoria: trumpet and 3rd flugelhorn; Danilo Brito: trumpet and 4th flugelhorn; Gilmar Chaves: 1st trombone; Hugo Sanbone: 2nd trombone; Juracy Almeida: 3rd trombone. Special Guests – Raul de Souza: trombone [solo on 1]; Joander Cruz: alto saxophone [solo on 2]; Marcelo Martins: tenor saxophone [solo on 3]; Caetano Veloso: vocal [5].

Released – 2022
Label – Rocinante
Runtime – 43:24

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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