Brasilians like the incomparable drummer and musician nonpareil Duduka Da Fonseca know that “samba” is dance – something glorified not only in the way music is played during the legendary Carnaval processions before Ash Wednesday descends upon the faithful. Thus they find nuanced ways of describing what takes possession of their bodies when the Brasilian music begins. The samba, then, is more than a Carioca phenomenon. And it’s not only the dança do carioca but, how the carioca walks… something that the very special person has taught to the world. In terms of the latter endeavour there are few diabos de ritmo elegantes e/ou sofisticados [elegant and/or sophisticated rhythm devils] than Duduka Da Fonseca and Quarteto Universal on Yes!!!
It is always a jaw-dropping experience to listen to the music that Duduka Da Fonseca makes. He can take a song by the legendary Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim [or simply Tom Jobim to his friends], and spin it in a myriad different ways. His refreshing interpretation of “Á Correnteza” is just one such example – you can bet your bottom dollar that you may never hear this song played the same way twice by this great drummer. But that is only one example of the wizardry of Duduka Da Fonseca.
The entire repertoire on this album is a testament to the genius of his musicianship. Listening to “Samba Novo” and then letting the recording melt into the elegance of “Transition” by Dom Salvador, you can discern – if you pay close attention, that is – to how subtly Duduka Da Fonseca moulds the song, rolling it from a marcha to a rippling maracatu and into the dusty shuffle of what is traditionally presumed [by outsiders] to be the samba. In fact, Duduka and his Quarteto Universal demonstrate musically, what Luciana Souza describes as the rolling intonation of Brasilian rhythm – from the way the language of Portuguese is spoken in Brasil to the manner in which this translates into music. You will hear this especially in the magnificent viscous “undulating” of Vinicius Gomes as he approaches the electric guitar – or even the acoustic Brasilian violão.
This is not the only aspect of his playing that sets Mr Gomes apart from almost all of his peers at home and abroad. Anyone who was gob-smacked by the guitarist’s 2017 album Resilência, [featuring a majestic quartet that included drummer Edu Ribeiro, contrabassist Bruno Migotto, pianist Gustavo Bugni and saxophonist Rodrigo Ursaia, and other guests] will be awestruck once again by the propulsion of the song “Êxodo” – this time by Duduka Da Fonseca and Quarteto Universal. It is a masterpiece of rapidly changing rhythms and shifting pulses – an underbelly – that keeps the harmonic décor of the music ascending in a sort of rapture that seduces not only the musicians who play the song, but listeners too. And this sense of being mesmerised is something that you experience throughout this album…
Musicians like Duduka Da Fonseca find ways of connecting with other musicians [in this case pianist Helio Alves, contrabassist Gili Lopes and, of course, Vinicius Gomes] “outside” of music – literally, extra-musically – and that connection brings about a warmth and camaraderie… the sheer alegria [or joy] of his “Brasiliance” that makes for his so perconal take on the “Human Diaspora”. This is what always makes the music of this special human being almost unutterably magical.
Tracks – 1: Samba Novo; 2: Transition; 3: Lilia; 4: Montreux; 5: Bebê; 6: Êxodo; 7: Viver de Amor; 8: Á Correnteza; 9: West 83 Street; 10: Dona María
Musicians – Vinicius Gomes: guitars; Helio Alves: piano; Gili Lopes: contrabass: Duduka Da Fonseca: drums
Released – 2022
Label – Sunnyside Records [SSC 1674]
Runtime – 54:57