When North American or European jazz artists incorporate traditional Brazilian styles into their music, the results are generally good. When the artist is Brazilian, the reverse can also be special, which is the case with Leonardo E.M. Cioglia.
This native of Brasilia began studying music at age 7. His instrument of choice was the electric bass, but as a teenager, he developed an interest in the acoustic bass, which he plays on Contos. After graduating from the Berklee College of Music, Cioglia founded Quizamba Music and produced the company's first release for the Brazilian jazz-funk group Zabumbatuq. Sidemen for this project are saxophonist John Ellis, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, guitarist Mike Moreno, pianist Aaron Goldberg and drummer Antonio Sanchez.
"Contos (do Neco)" is a charming piece. Ellis and Moreno share the melody. After a bridge, Moreno and Goldberg set up Ellis' solo. Cioglia and Sanchez carry the rhythm freely. During the tenor sax solo, Moreno and Goldberg seemingly ad lib their parts. Moreno then scores a solo that's part Lee Ritenour, part Pat Metheny.
Goldberg goes it alone to bring in "Filhos do Pequi," joined later by Cioglia and Sanchez. The guitar-sax duet again carries the melody. Sanchez works in some nice rim shots and plays the toms with effect during the guitar-led bridge. Goldberg puts the piano through some high-speed paces, but with an air of elegance. The play becomes intense as the song segues into the tenor solo. Throughout, Cioglia and Sanchez complement the leads with crisp timing. Later in the song, Ellis plays the melody alone, accompanied only by Sanchez. The rest of the ensemble returns for what seems to be the end of the song. A cue from Sanchez sets off the free-spirited fade.
A splash of cymbals opens "Pontos Cardeais." After the bass, rim shots and deft guitar plucking underscore the piano, Ellis comes in on the soprano sax. Harris contributes a marimba solo. Though the groove is laid back, the mallets work at a frenzied pace. Goldberg and Moreno also solo.
All 10 tracks of Contos were written by Cioglia. The album's running time is nearly an hour and 14 minutes, allowing plenty of interplay among the musicians. Though Cioglia is mostly in the background, his mark is made in strong songwriting and the group's chemistry.
Track Listing: Contos (Do Neco); Santa Maria; Filhos do Pequi; Aroma de Mel; Planalto Central; Pontos Cardeais; Olhos D
Personnel: John Ellis: tenor saxophone (1-3, 5, 7, 9), soprano saxophone (4, 10); Mike Moreno: electric guitar (1-6, 9, 10), acoustic and steel string guitar (7, 8); Stefon Harris: vibraphone (2, 7-9), marimba (6, 8); Aaron Goldberg: acoustic piano (1-6, 9, 10); Leonardo Cioglia: acoustic bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums; Orquestra Fantasma (John Ellis): flutes, clarinet and bass clarinet (10).