The influence of Caribbean and South American musical ideas on jazz goes as far back as Jelly Roll Morton and his "Latin tinge." Brazilian music, which first became popular in this country in the 60s with the samba craze, has always possessed a unique identity and sound. After Brazilian music was imported into America, a two way flow was established, with musicians from each culture listening to and working with musicians from the other. The results of this "cross-breeding" are smartly chronicled in the new Milestone compilation Brazilian Horizons.
Brazilian Horizons was compiled by Rio de Janeiro resident Arnaldo DeSouterio, who was given the keys to the Fantasy vaults, from which he picked selections from the vast holdings of not only Fantasy, but of the Milestone and Pablo labels as well. This collection is an excellent cross section of Brazilian and Brazilian-influenced music from those labels, primarily from the Seventies and Eighties.
I make the distinction between Brazilian music and Brazilian-influence music for description purposes only. The majority of the performers on this collection are Brazilian, or moved there to pursue this music. However, just as does the term "jazz,", the terms "Brazilian" covers many different sounding kinds of music. My personal favorites are the gorgeous guitar and rhythm pieces, exemplified on this collection by selections from Joe Pass, Jim Hall, and Luiz Bonfa. With strong rhythm sections laying down that familiar Brazilian "groove," each of these men is able to dance lightly through their musical ideas, drifting in on one breeze, and easily back out again on another.
Pass has his own selection, "Corcovado," and plays on the Ella Fitzgerald cut "Song of the Jet", and on both displays the talent that has made him one of jazz's most loved guitar players. Jim Hall is smoothly boppish on "Vera Cruz," and Luiz Bonfa offers up his simple yet lushly romantic composition "Rio Acima."
The collection contains much more than just guitar players, though. In addition to Fitzgerald's performance, two cuts are included from Sarah Vaughan, "Triste" and "Travessia," where she teams with Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento. Seventies icon Flora Purim is included as well, with a live, very "Frampton-Comes-Alive-ish" version of "Bahia." In fact, much of the last third album is dominated by this fusion-esque feel, with electric instruments prevalent and very complex musical explorations underway. Cannonball Adderley, Cal Tjader, Jose Roberto, and the boys from Azymuth all contribute cuts that explore Brazilian rhythms while sounding very much like Miles Davis's work in the Seventies. Other tracks explore the marriage of big band with Brazilian themes, most notably trombonist Raul De Souza's "Canto de Ossanha," which boasts several horns with J.J. Johnson arranging and conducting.
Brazilian Horizons would be the perfect disc to be used as teaching tool or an introduction to Brazilian music. Traditional numbers, vocal numbers, modern numbers...its all here. For the fan interested in Brazilian music, but not sure what kind, Brazilian Horizons serves as a wonderful sampler. For the more in depth fan of Brazilian music, you'll probably have a more specified type of Brazilian that you prefer. It's probably represented here, but you'll also be given a taste of several other styles.