Claudio Roditi – Brazilliance x 4 (Resonance Records 2008)

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Charles Mingus would have loved the way Claudio Roditi plays his horn. He is most like Clarence “Gene” Shaw. And like Shaw, Roditi knows the importance of the space between the notes; when to play a note; a quick flurry, or merely a short intricate phrase… and when not to play. His voice is unique; his sound is bright, delivered in short, round bursts of emotion and energy. And because he is one of the most thoughtful musicians around, he almost never plays a wrong note. On Brazilliance x 4 Claudio Roditi is on top of his game, once again. Moreover like the great bebop musicians, whom Roditi no doubt admires—men like Bird and Diz, who was his boss for several years in the United Nations Orchestra—he solos with sonorous rhythm and a quiet fire always aglow, but is the epitome of brevity, always… In and out in a few bars, perhaps a chorus or two. This way the music is always magnificently highlighted, while Roditi and his cohort merely embellish its intricacies in short gentle bursts.

This is Roditi’s first Resonance record and it is a splendid one indeed. He is joined here by three stellar, first call musicians—Helio Alves on piano, Leonardo Cioglia on bass and Duduka da Fonseca on drums. Their expert reading of the charts is near perfect and the empathy with the trumpeter and flugelhorn player is significant. In a day when showboating is the order of the day, each of the musicians here are practically self-effacing. But the music is not. The tunes here cover much ground in contemporary Brasilian music—from Victor Assis Brasil, Johnny Alf, Joao Donato, Durval Ferreira and Raul de Souza—a Miles Davis chart, “Tune Up” and four Roditi originals. All the songs are played in the Bossa Nova mode and the energy is kept up throughout the record.

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Roditi’s original tribute to the great Brasilian percussionist and composer, “Song para Nana,” is a dreamy excursion into a glowing soundscape, creating an almost halo-like quality for the track. Alves solos with exquisite taste and is also mighty glissando. Duduka da Fonseca is restrained and his splashes of brassy color on the cymbals stoke the composition throughout. “Tema para Duduka” has a sturdier bossa nova rhythm and showcases the drummer’s unbridled skill to great effect. The second half of the song belongs to Duduka da Fonseca, who turns his arms and legs, sticks and drums and cymbals into a harmonic and rhythmic constellation. Of course none of this would be complete without the steady strutting of Leonardo Cioglia, who provides a perfect foil for Fonseca to take the song into the stratosphere.

The Brasilian standards at the start of the record are wonderfully recast and in doing so Roditi is also giving notice that he is not merely a Brasilian with a penchant for jazz, but also a soulful Carioca at heart. “A Vontade Mesmo,” “E Nada Mais” and “Quem Diz Que Sabe” provide ample evidence of this. The live track at the back end of the record and the superb sound throughout make this record one of the finest in 2008/09 so far.

Tracks: Pro Zeca; E Nada Mais; A Vontade Mesmo; Tune Up; Rapaz de Bem; Dinner by Five; Song for Nana; Tema para Duduka; Quem Diz Que Sabe; Gemini Man.

Personnel: Claudio Roditi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Helio Alves: piano; Leonardo Cioglia: bass; Duduka da Fonseca: drums.

Claudio Roditi on the web: www.resonancerecords.org/claudioroditi

Review written by: Raul da Gama

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