These original compositions by Brazilian reared bassist, composer Leonardo E. M. Cioglia resonate with endearing themes and buoyant flows, abetted by a crack ensemble of modern day jazz heroes. The bassist rose thru the ranks, ultimately leading to a scholarship at the Berklee College of Music back in 1991, while performing regularly in New York City with his contemporary Brazilian jazz band, Quizamba. All his learning, shedding and performances have yielded gigantic dividends throughout this 2008 release. And while Cioglia's South American roots are evident within the grand schema, he especially succeeds at injecting inferences and subtle shades of indigenous Latin fare into the parts of the whole. His artistry casts a rather seamless transmigration of these stylizations into the progressive-jazz idiom.
Cioglia balances out the affair with largely, memorable compositions. The artist projects a mindset, awash with symmetrical motifs amid the ensemble's sympathetic phrasings and astutely executed dynamics. They fuse notions of lament with a few episodes where fire and ice provide the contrapuntal punch. With rising guitar star Mike Moreno's dark-toned and fluent electric lines, the music is often embellished within a shroud of intrigue. Yet it's a democratic engagement marked with finesse and muscle
Moreno and saxophonist John Ellis' interweaving unison lines on "Santa Maria," are underscored by the rhythm section's soft pulse, where imagery of a gentle breeze amid scenic panoramas comes to fruition. Then on "Pontos Cardeais," Ellis hits a sweet spot with his sublime soprano sax choruses, steering the band into up-tempo soloing ventures and multidirectional storylines. In various measures, the ensemble opens it up, although matters never go awry, as solos by pianist Aaron Goldberg and vibraphonist Stefon Harris often provide coloration and polytonal enhancements to Cioglia's persuasive comps. Overall, Contos stands as a prominent musical highlight for 2008. Simply stated, it's music that makes a noticeable difference.
Personnel: Leonardo E. M. Cioglia: acoustic bass; John Ellis: tenor and soprano sax, flutes, bass clarinet, clarinet; Mike Moreno: electric guitars and acoustic steel string guitar; Stefon Harris: vibraphone and marimba; Aaron Goldberg: acoustic piano; Antonio Sanchez: drums and cymbals.