Brazil, Ever Present in The World of Jazz

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Paulo Bellinati/Harvey Wainapel
New Choros of Brazil
Proteus Entertainment

Charlie Byrd
Bamba-Samba Bossa Nova
Empire Musikwerks

Helio Alves/Duduka da Fonseca
HD2: Songs from the Last Century
Blue Toucan Music

One of the earliest forms of Brazilian improvised music, 'choro' (which means wail) has conserved its roots throughout the 100+ years of its existence, inspiring many musicians and composers of later generations. The style was recently showcased during the JVC Jazz festival, when Choro Ensemble played a selection of classic and new songs during the Brazilian nights at Jazz Standard.

On New Choros of Brazil, we are presented with a seamless collection of 12 songs that keep its flame alive. The chemistry of Bellinati and Wainapel is evident, but can be especially noticed in self-written material such as "Escaldado , in which the clarinet and guitar seem to engage in a fluent conversation.

The CD seems to have been so carefully crafted that it becomes hard to single out individual tracks. One that stands out is Sergio Assad's "Eterna , which features Cristina Azuma on second guitar. Here the duo travel more freely within the song's beautiful, colorful landscapes, with extremely welcome results.

When the bossa nova movement first arrived, there were several misconceptions that American musicians had of the style, which was mistaken as some kind of new 'dance' beat. On the reissue of Bamba-Samba Bossa Nova, one notices how these misconceptions came to play even with players the caliber of guitarist Charlie Byrd (he would be instrumental, a few years later, for the popularization of the genre via his Samba Jazz album with Stan Getz).

Granted, Byrd's playing is flawless, especially in softer tracks such as "Love Song Ballad and "Summer Sequence Part 1 , effectively capturing some of the essence of Brazil's music. The recording though, played with the very loud Woody Herman orchestra in the background, is anything but bossa nova-ish - it is more of a notion that US bandleaders had (at the time) that samba was some kind of rumba and that bossa was just another excuse to hit the dance floor.

Despite its shortcomings, the album is generous to show Byrd's qualities as a frontman, even though it is light years away from the subtler Brazilian-themed records he would make later in his career.

Duduka da Fonseca and Helio Alves performed with Antonio Carlos Jobim in the '70s and '80s and have a long history as sidemen for some of the greatest legends of jazz. They have since made their own careers as expat musicians, collaborating on albums such as this one, which celebrates the rhythmical fusion of Brazilian jazz. Songs from the Last Century opens with Jaco Pastorius' "Three Views of a Secret . Alto saxophonist Phil Woods blends into the samba realm perfectly, da Fonseca, Alves and bassist Eddie Gomez cleverly remaining in the background, allowing Woods to work without any interruption. Maucha Adnet was also a member of Jobim's band in the '80s and here she revisits - alongside Paulo Jobim, a lesser-known composition of the maestro, "Sabiá . While they follow the song's original arrangement, it does have a certain freshness to it via Phil Woods' improvisations.

Egberto Gismonti's tunes are always demanding for any musician and here the trio take on "Frevo without skipping a beat. Gomez steals the show with a twisting solo (as he frequently does) and Alves shows his amazing chops as the song comes to a close. Many Brazilian musicians have adapted American standards into a samba beat and here the trio is once again joined by Adnet, Woods and Jobim for a heartfelt rendition of "These Foolish Things . Oscar Castro-Neves' string arrangement fits in incredibly well with this song and both Adnet's vocal delivery and Woods' improvisations are a treat to the ears.

Tracks and Personnel

New Choros of Brazil

Tracks: Aos Amigos do Rio; Pra Quem Quiser Me Visitar; O Cabo Pitanga; Escaldado; Simpática; Emoção; Orquidea; Eterna; O Choro Para Thalia e Steve; Primeiros Passos; Seu Laercio na Cozinha; Choro do Adeus.

Personnel: Paulo Bellinati: guitar; Harvey Wainapel: clarinet; Cristina Azuma: second guitar (track 8)

Bamba-Samba Bossa Nova

Tracks: Bamba Samba; Original # 2, Love Song Ballad; Prelude a La Cha Cha Cha; Summer Sequence Part 1, 2, 3 & 4.

Personnel: Charlie Byrd: guitar; Nat Adderly, Paul Cohen, Nick Travis, Charlie Shavers, Ernie Royal: trumpet; Jim Dahl, Frank Rehak, Ed Price: trombone; Woody Herman: clarinet, alto; Sam Marowitz, Joe Soldo: alto; Harold Feldman, Mike Tinnes: tenor; Bill Stapin: baritone; Eddie Costa: vibes; Bill Betts: bass; Jimmy Campbell: drums; Willie Rodriguez: conga; Sid Feller" arrangements.

HD2: Songs From The Last Century

Tracks: Duduka da Fonseca: drums; Helio Alves: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Phil Woods: alto saxophone; Oscar Castro-Neves: string arrangemens; Maucha Adnet: vocals; Paulo Jobim: guitar, vocals

Personnel: Player Name: instrument; Player Name: instrument.

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