Sergio Pereira: Finesse

As in football, so also in music, Brasil’s cup runneth over. So great is the outflow in fact that both have reached the furthest corners of the world. Interestingly, however, there appear to be more guitarists [percussionists excepted] per square-kilometre in Brasil than any kind of musician and instrumentalist. Both are also Brasil’s greatest gift to the music scene in the USA. Sergio Pereira is one of those great gifts – a musician of such prodigious talent that we listen in a state of wonder and awe – once again – to the music he has created on Finesse.

Album cover - Sergio Pereira: Finesse
Album cover – Sergio Pereira: Finesse

Expectations are always high when it comes to Mr Pereira’s music and he does not disappoint with this recording. On the contrary, his music thrills as never before. The arrangements are more complex than Mr Pereira has attempted before. Each arrangement seems to provoke the musician interpreting the music to reach deeper into his imagination so as to integrate his own soundworld into the universe of the music that he is playing. The result suggests interpretations [of the music] that are as personal as possible, featuring new ideas and openness towards new horizons.

As a guitarist Mr Pereira also possesses a key to the musical winsomeness and the desire for infinite euphoria. These musical outbursts of alegria tinged by the de rigueur saudades are as Brasilian as anyone can get, and both indescribably ephemeral emotions are present in the glacial harmonic tone textures of the music across the repertoire of this album – especially when the guitarist resorts to his signature chordal and single-note lines that adorn the beautifully sculpted lines of his work. A fine example of this is in the streams of long inventions of “Morning Mist” and in the languid phraseology of “Dreams”.

Sergio Pereira has scored an elegant and proverbial goal by eliciting the partnership of another composer and drummer, the incomparable Mauricio Zottarelli – a fellow-Brasilian – to shape the production. At the very outset it needs to be said that so powerful and vivid are Mr Zottarelli’s percussion colours that the need for a “Brasilian” percussionist to express the Brasilianness of the album is almost completely obviated. The drummer is a whole percussion section in itself. Together with the inimitable bassists Mark Egan, and Brasilians Paulo Paulelli and André Vasconcellos a proverbial rhythmic wall forms the backdrop of these exquisite songs.

The sultry vocals of Paula Santoro [“Samba de Outono” and “Frio Lugar”], the percussive vocalastics of Filó Machado [“Finesse”] and the rhapsodic vocal ornamentations of Milene Corso and Camilla Pereira [“Desfilando e Vitoria”] are all uniformly superb. Meanwhile the alto horn of the incomparable Ralph Moore [“Quase”] and the elegant brass and woodwind section of Rubinho Antunes, Rodrigo Ursaia [“Desfilando e Vitória”], and David Mann [“Let it Out”] richly ornament the respective songs. And few pianists play with the delicate, yet majestic touch than pianist Helio Alves.

But there is also the overall presentation of the leader’s sound world – its luscious tumbling musical sertão [so to speak], unveiled in the flights of fancy courtesy of addition of the radiant Christos Rafalides’ vibraphone infused into the music of “Finesse”. And then there is the high and lonesome harmonica lines of the great Gabriel Grossi, and the robust and character and colours of the horns that shape the musical evocations on “Desafilando a Vitória” and the beautiful dolor of the brilliant virtuoso Vitor Gonçalves’ accordion on “Frio Lugar”… all this and much more makes for an album like no other from the musical genius of Sergio Pereira.

Track list – 1: White Lion; 2: Morning Mist; 3: Samba de Outono; 4: Finesse; 5: Quase; 6: Give Me Five; 7: Desfilando a Vitória; 8: Let it Out; 9: Frio Lugar; 10: Dreamsville

Personnel – Sergio Pereira: guitars [1, 3 – 5, 7 – 9], acoustic guitars [2, 6, 10], percussion [3] and voice [1, 5, 7, 8]; Helio Alves: piano [1, 5]; Matt King: keyboard, piano and synthesizer [6]; David Mann: all keyboards and co-arranger [8], soprano and tenor saxophones, and flute [8]; Mark Egan: bass [1, 4, 6, 8]; Paulo Paulelli: bass [2, 3, 10]; André Vasconcellos: bass [5, 7, 9]; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums; Emilio Martins: percussion [1, 5, 7]; Reza Khan: rhythm guitar and guitar FX [1]; Marcos Teixeira: electric guitar [2]; Christos Rafalides: vibraphone [4]; Gabriel Grossi: harmonica [6]; Ralph Moore: alto saxophone [5]; Rubinho Antunes: trumpet and flugelhorn [7]; Jorginho Neto: trombone [7]; Rodrigo Ursaia: tenor saxophone, flutes and horn arrangements [7]; Vitor Gonçalves: accordion [9]; Paula Santoro: vocals [3, 9]; Filó Machado: vocals [4]; Milene Corso: background vocals [7]; Camilla Pereira: background vocals [7]

Released – 2022
Label – Sedajazz Records
Runtime – 51:31

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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