The following words probably do Brazilian bassist, composer and bandleader Leonardo E. M. Cioglia no favors, because it lays the weighty burden of expectation upon him and his group of young musicians. But no other words say precisely this: Contos
showcases an acoustic jazz ensemble that so deftly features each individual voice, while naturally integrating each voice into an organic ensemble sound, that Contos
continually evokes the legendary Gary Burton
meeting of their acoustic Like Minds
As Contos' bassist, Cioglia is more felt than heard. He does not solo, not even once. His bass bubbles up through the rhythmic crevices of "Planalto Central," then simmers back down into the groove. He aggressively moves "Filhos Do Pequi" through the irresistible propulsion of Latin jazz, while Aaron Goldberg
double-pumps a colorful and lusty piano solo and saxophonist John Ellis
breathes dragon fire on sax; the soloists meanwhile churn atop a rhythmic undertow that conjures the mystical, electric Latin fusion spirit of Return to Forever
As composer and bandleader, Cioglia allows Ellis and guitarist Mike Moreno
to dominate the solo space along with Stefon Harris
, whose crystalline vibes ring through six tunes. Moreno consistently displays his grasp of the pastoral eloquenceand more importantly, the sheer beauty
of Metheny's guitar approach. Shining like a beacon through the opening title track, tempering "Santa Maria" with soft clouds of melancholy chords, and coupling with sax to create a single, singing voice in "Aroma de Mel," Moreno sounds simply brilliant throughout.
Contos also explores the native music and jazz of Brazil with familiarity and wonder. Harris' vibes lead the soft, reflectively sad melody of "Desfiladeiro de Nuvens" while drummer Antonio Sanchez
and Cioglia ebb and flow through its supple Brazilian rhythm. The light melody of "Lençois de Areia" dances on Harris' vibes, shooting sparks off of Moreno's guitar to ignite a smoldering Brazilian fire. Contos
resonates with beautiful proof that music need not always be played very loud or fast to be intense.
Personnel: Leonardo E. M. Cioglia: acoustic bass; John Ellis: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; Mike Moreno: electric guitar, acoustic steel string guitar; Stefon Harris: vibraphone, marimba; Aaron Goldberg: acoustic piano; Antonio Sanchez: drums, cymbals.