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