According to the legend on the CD jacket, the Adventure Music Piano Masters Series was created by the label’s producers, Jim Luce and Richard Zirinsky Jr. A series like this must pose several challenges to the producers all at once.
Who or what constitutes a “piano master”? Where does this label find these rare birds? History will show that so far they have popped in from the great country of Brazil. First came the inimitable Benjamin Taubkin, then Philippe Baden Powell, son of the legendary composer and guitarist Baden Powell de Aquino, and now, with Adventure Music Piano Masters Vol. 3 in the series the majestic Weber Iago. The producers make no apology for the fact that all three pianists are Brazilian and so they shouldn’t; Adventure Music is a label that supports Brazilian music, so far, almost exclusively. And these are without doubt piano masters, whose virtuosity is unbridled; whose expression is so nuanced that they could make almost anyone from gazelle to grown man weep at the touch of an A minor chord; who could wrench the life out of twisted guts of a man as well as cause such exultation among them that man and beast would take flight… and so on.
The pianist Weber Iago is no exception. He is an artist of rare and insightful genius. His music is informed by lofty ideas and deep emotion; it comes equally from his rather magnificently tuned brain and from deep within his bottomless soul. And when the music is enunciated and broadcast via his body, his fingers intervene in such a manner that body and soul communicate the nuanced delicacy of tone and texture; vivid colour and subtle shade. In fact such is Iago’s ingenuity that he can—with a dazzling series of triplets, conjure up a bubbling brook; with a couple of mighty arpeggios the pianist can make glorious leaps and parabolic gambols into Elysian Fields. And it is all so real that Iago becomes, as he plays, a modern musical mystic able to create Florentine figures out of thin air and bring musical magic to inanimate keys, strings of coiled copper, and steel wires, and dampers and felts so that they literally sing.
The music on this record is partly composed, which is probably to say that some of the ideas and sequences are programmatic, but there are four charts that are spontaneously improvised. This is a key element of jazz and Keith Jarrett does this wonderfully. But it was assumed that only Jarrett did such a thing with any degree of success and ingenuity. Now, along comes Weber Iago who does what Jarrett did with a skill that equals that of the masterful Jarrett himself. “True Colours” is so aptly named that it vividly re-locates what appears to be a painterly palette from the canvas to the invisible topography of music. Vivid colours spring forth from the notes; subtle shades slide from under Iago’s fingers as they skid across ebony and ivory. Iago channels his musical ancestry throughout and sweeping impressions of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel abound. But Weber Iago’s voice is singular and unique. He emerges as a magical Satyr in a world that is almost wholly imagined here and elsewhere.
On “Stairway To Us”, the second of four improvisations he proves that he occupies a rarefied realm once again. This excursion resembles a Maurits Escher print with Iago’s extensive soli moving forward—or, in this case, upward—then spiralling down to a planet only the pianist calls home. Here Iago conjures beautiful dreamscapes and creates a parallax view that is at once real and imaginary. In this piece, too his strong suit remains his ability to employ a musical palette that is so vivid and beautifully moulded that his notes also suggest a fourth dimension. “Mirrors” is fraught with suspense and surprise, making it one of the finest charts on the album and in “Carmela” Iago has created, quite simply, one of the most beautiful portraits in recorded music in a long time.
By the time Weber Iago closes out this set, there can be no doubt that he is a master of the piano—with both programmatic as well as spontaneously improvised music. And that also means that this musical series imagined by the producers at, Adventure Music, is something that has come to have a beautiful life of its own.
Tracks: True Colors; Stairway To Us; It Dawned On Me; Mirrors; Merci Mon Frere; Happiness Is A Choice; From I To Z; Praise; Carmela.
Personnel: Weber Iago: piano.
Weber Iago – Website: www.myspace.com/weberiago
Label: Adventure Music
Release date: October 2012
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama