Jon Gold – Bossa of Possibility (Blujazz Productions 2012)

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Review written by: Raul da Gama

Jon Gold is one of the most exciting virtuoso pianists, imaginative composers and original orchestrators in art of two important musical idioms—Brazilian and American. The fact that he melds musical linguistics like that other master who is tucked away in the Northwest, Jovino Santos Neto, shows him to be possessed of an essentially Brazilian soul. And this makes Gold a Brasiliero – a Carioca, when he makes an invisible leap into the sand and surf of Ipanema, or a Paulista when he swerves into that city; a Bahiano often, when he makes that soulful leap into the sertao of the Northeast. Everywhere Gold roams with heart and soul, he brings alegria—the joy with which Brazilian music lights up the world that he mixes in like a medieval apothecary, into the singular joys of jazz as well. He shows off these aspects of his character with unforgettable style on Bossa of Possibility, his first album of 2012.

As a technician, Jon Gold has much personality and his attraction is that he views the world with the peeled eye of a child. This makes him fearless. It also means that he will brook no quarter to gain control of his keyboard in a manner that is as sublimely masterful as it is adventurous. Yet he has affecting emotion. While he does not solo much he plays with soul, making a few notes wake up that aspect of the being and draw it towards his music. This is true virtuosity and is infinitely more relevant and attractive than even dazzling virtuosity. This “Basie-effect” shines throughout this superb album; most delightfully on the swerving beauty of “Caroline Dance,” which not only captures the moveable sculpture of dance, but also—as Gold makes startling leaps in the song’s melody and then in what appear to be harmonic inversions—in a marvellously surreptitious manner, the eye of the beholder, watching with some disbelief the beautiful dancer herself. Again, in “Samba Ballet” Gold’s mastery of melding several idioms at once in to a song overflowing with saudade as its melody pirouettes with ethereal beauty.

Who should know better where to take the music in a virtuoso manner than the composer himself? Gold is one of the most inventive ones writing today. Again the parallel with Jovino Santos Neto comes to mind as Gold appears to stretch his sensibilities beyond the realm of the expected and predictable. With “Ora Bolas”, his opening composition on the album Gold gives notice of this as he travels with musical sketch pen and black chart paper over the rhythmically clanging, chugging, shuffling character of the Northeast of Brazil. With the brilliant young percussion colorists, Mauricio Zottarelli and Adriano Santos bringing to life the repentista that the composer imagines in combination with accordionist, Rob Curto. Tackling themes of immense report, like leaping into the realm of “possibility” such as Gold does on “Bossa of Possibility” is inspired by the complexity of human endeavour through music. Then again, composing with visual narrative as he does on “Theme for Impermanence” indicates not just Gold’s maturity, but also a special expressionist skill.

Throughout the album Gold also displays a fine ear for extremely complex polyphony. The composition, “A.O.C” with the multiplicity of its tones and textures shows off this aspect of his character and at once transports Gold to sit among the elite of orchestrators. But what is most alluring about Gold’s penchant for arranging layer upon layer of beautiful colours in his music is his affinity for the ideas he developed at the feet of his irmão mais velho, Hermeto Pascoal. Thus he is able to make almost anything sound poetic and lyrical by employing a rich palette of tones and colours to express the depth of a myriad of emotions—as he does almost throughout, but especially on “P’bubu”. But more than anything else is Gold’s ability to orchestrate into his music, disparate voices such as the great Dave Liebman on “Stanley” and Jon Irabagon on several charts, especially “Mineira”.

These is so much to herald on Gold’s sophomore album, indicating that he has matured considerably from that other already memorable album, Brazil Confidential (Zoho, 2010).

Track Listing: 1. Ora Bolas; 2. Bossa of Possibility; 3. Bugalu 2-6-3; 4. Theme for Impermanence; 5. Buster; 6. Caroline Dance; 7. AOC; 8. P’bubu; 9. Mineira; 10 Mainstay; 11. Samba Ballet; 12. Stanley.

Personnel: Jon Gold: piano; Harvie S: bass; Dave Liebman: saxophone (5, 12); Howard Levy: harmonica (2, 3, 7, 11); Tom “Bones” Malone: all horns (3); Jon Irabagon: saxophone (1, 2, 8, 9); Zack Brock: violin (1, 8, 10); Jorge Continentino: flutes (1, 3, 6, 8, 10); Scott Anderson: guitars; Mauricio Zottarelli (drums; Adriano Santos: percussion (1, 2, 3, 10); Zé Mauricio: percussion (6, 8, 9, 11); Bryan Murray: saxophone (1, 3, 6, 8, 9); Lauren Riley Rigby: cello (5); Jackie Coleman: horns (2); Jeff Hanley: electric bass (3, 8); Rob Curto: accordion (1, 8); Briyana Martin: vocals: 9).

Related links: Jon Gold on the web: www.jongold.com

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