Review written by: Raul da Gama
The extraordinary songwriter and producer, Meeco’s new album, Beauty Of The Night comes with a hidden cautionary note which is not visible or audible until the first strains of the music is heard: It is an elementally sad album and a box of Kleenex may be de rigueur. However, this is not to say that the album is not beautiful. After all, in immense sadness there is beauty as well. Meeco should know this. He is smitten with things Brazilian—the incredible vocalist, Eloisia, for one. Surely it is her—a mainstay of his other albums as well—who first introduced Meeco to the idea of the Brazilian “chorinho” or “little cry” that musical diminutive of “choro,” the great urban tradition of Brazil. In this music the lyric is never sung, but it is “cried” instead. Meeco seems to have applied this concept to the music on this album—essentially a transliteration of that classic Brazilian form.
There is also the presence of the Jacques Morelenbaum, a great Brazilian cellist and master of the musical arts in the realm of classical and Brazilian folk, Musica Popular Brasiliera and, of course the idiom of jazz. Morelenbaum was an acolyte of Antonio Carlos Jobim; has played with Egberto Gismonti and other luminaries as is a member of Brazil’s musical pantheon himself. His mournful wailing is one of the most beautiful aspects of this recording. He too must have influenced Meeco deeply. The alto flute—not merely a flute, or even a concert flute—but an alto flute is played by the magnificent Hubert Laws, who is a stellar member of this cast that includes the likes of bassist Buster Williams, saxophonist, Benny Golson, bass clarinetist, Bennie Maupin, guitarists Lionel Loueke and Romero Lubambo among others. Maupin’s deep throated growl adds gravitas to the melancholy of this album.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the music on the album from end to end is the daring manner in which Meeco has paced the music. The elegiac music has been slowed down—as has the balladry—to such an extent that the ache and longing of the spirit is palpable, like a sword piercing through the heart. This is courageous on the part of the composer and producer. The dirge-like quality of some of the music recalls that aspect of a requiem that makes it unique to music. That most of it has been written after the composer’s mother passed on gives it an element of reality that can almost be touched as it is felt. There is a “B” side to all of this music and it takes the form of so-called remixes. This is acceptable to the extent that the bonus is free. There can be no alternative to the feeling of the blues except the elementally aching manner in which it is expressed.
Track Listing: 1. Refraõ de Amor (Chorus of Love); 2. Gotas de Adeus (Tears of Farewell); 3. Luzes de Flores (Lights and Flowers); 4. Amor e Encantos (Love and Delights); 5. Refraõ de Amor (Sad Guy); 6. No Fundo do Teu Silêncio (In the Depths of your Silence); 7. Ombres et Lumières (Shadows and Lights)/Nua Solidão (Bare Solitude); 8. Beleza Da Noite (Beauty of the Night)
Personnel: Eloisia: vocals (1 – 8); Joe Bataan: vocals (5); Jane Birkin: vocals (7); Freddy Cole: vocal (2); Gregory Porter: vocals (6); Zé Manoel: vocals (4); Hubert Laws: alto flute (4, 8, 9); Eddie Henderson: trumpet (2, 6, 9); Benny Golson: tenor saxophone (2, 9); Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet (1, 5); Kenny Barron: piano (2 – 4, 6 – 9); Lionel Loueke: guitar (3); Romero Lubambo: guitar (1, 5); Stefon Harris: vibraphone (1, 5); Jacques Morelenbaum: cello and cello arrangements (2, 4, 6, 8); Buster Williams: bass; Victor Lewis: drums (1 – 3, 5, 7 – 9).
Related links: Meeco on the web: www.myspace.com/meecojazz