With his Adventure Music début, Os Filhos do Vento
(Children of the Wind), pianist/composer Weber Iago links together three of his consuming passionsjazz, classical and Brazilian musicinto a rich blend that alludes to all without resting particularly in any one camp. Instead, he creates a sound that displays its broad roots while managing to be personal and specific.
Iago's jazz roots seem to reside in more eclectic territory. One clear influence is the genre-busting group Oregon, and it is, therefore, fitting that Iago should enlist Oregon reedman Paul McCandless for two pieces. "Pelo Mundo Afora," in fact, with its lineup of piano, bass, percussion and oboe, could easily fit within the Oregon songbook, although Iago's sense of harmony is more direct, less ambiguous. "Sara" is a sweet duet with a touch of melancholy, where McCandless layers oboe, English horn, soprano sax and bass clarinet, supported by Iago's tender piano.
Elsewhere things are more challenging. The three-movement piece "Prologue" opens with three voices before a variety of gongs, cymbals and other percussion instruments create a dark backdrop for Iago's more brooding improvisation. The spirit of Egberto Gismonti looms large over the piece, which owes more to the rainforests than it does the cities of Brazil.
But the centrepiece of the album is the title piece, a four-movement, nine-part suite that originally stemmed from a commission intended to showcase the talents of New York flautist Keith Underwood, although Iago ultimately fleshes out the ensemble to include, along with the traditional piano trio, an additional flute, cello and percussion. Paying homage to the Rom, or Gypsy people, without referencing their music in any fashion, Iago's suite ranges from the dramatic "Opening" and the haunting "Flute Cadenza" to the more overtly Brazilian "Excellence of Being" and the lyrical yet bittersweet "Aura Lilas."
Through the entire suite the three voices that predominate are Underwood's lush flute, the dark wood of Joanna Blendulf's cello, and Iago's always-melodic piano. As sweet as the mix is, things never become syrupy; Iago's themes are often simple but somehow imbued with deeper meaning. Iago demonstrates an astute sense of orchestration, as he shifts from driving rhythms to twin flute respites during the opening of the final movement before building the piece to its inevitable conclusion from solo piano to piano, cello and flute trio and, finally, through to a richer conclusion with the spirited counterpoint of "Recapitulation and Afterthoughts."
Iago's ability to merge a set of diverse sources into a coherent view makes Os Filhos do Vento an intriguing listen that for the most part emphasizes the more melodious aspects of his roots. At times pretty, at other times foreboding, Os Filhos do Vento creates a broad tapestry that is never less than completely engaging.
Personnel: Weber Iago (piano, pipe organ, voice, percussion), Paul McCandless (oboe, English horn, soprano sax, bass clarinet on "Pelo Mundo Afora," "Sara"), Caito Marcondes (percussion, voice), Rogerio Botter Maio (bass, voice), Keith Underwood (flute), Sanai Nakamaya (flute, alto flute on "Children of the Wind"), Joanna Blendulf (cello on "Children of the Wind"), Paul van Wageningen (drums on "Children of the Wind"), Derek Jones (bass on "Children of the Wind, Part IV - Opening, Interlude, Recapitulation and Afterthoughts")