Alexandre Cunha: Batepapo 2 (2007)
While Drummer Alexandre Cunha professes surprise at the reception that Batepapo (self released, 2006) got, the release of Batepapo 2 proves that both he and the music of Brazil have depth and appeal.
The former recording felt like a primer on Brazilian music, particularly in its multitudes of rhythms, and used many different musicians in various configurations. This more recent project has a different genesis, and represents Cunha's working band playing arrangements of tunes, both new and old, that Cunha has played over the years.
Thus, Batepapo 2 is much more of a coherent work, with nice pacing and, since the musicians have the chance to stretch out, much wonderful playing. The music still has that mixture of an underlying happiness supporting rhythmic vitality, harmonic complexity and catchy melodies. However, what has been added is some very serious playing supported by arrangements that add much drama to the proceedings. Cunha calls this a "recording of his show," and, despite not being live, the feel of a band on stage playing a set in front of an appreciative audience pervades the music.
The balance between the beautiful melodies and luscious harmonies, as well as the rhythmic drive, are essential parts of this music. Bruno Coppini, with flying electric bass lines, provides harmonic support, rhythmic drive and melodic counterpoint. Working with him, of course, is Cunha, a very energetic drummer who, nevertheless, does not overpower the music. Filling out the harmony, supporting the rhythm, and playing terrific solos are keyboardists Mauricio Piassarollo (who appeared on the first record) and Janice Pezoa.
The stars, unsurprisingly, are band's front line, consisting of Fernando Baeta (who also appeared on the first record) on violao and guitar, and Marcelo Fernandes on saxophones and flutes. Both players mix superior technique with deep musicianship, taking off in dramatic form when the arrangement calls for it.
Cunha notes that this project allowed "a new and different approach to play the songs more freely," but each track offers much more than blowing. While a number of tunes from the first record are reworked ("Batepapo," "Pescador," "Um Baiao em Forma de Poema" and "Ritmo de Viagem"), the arrangements allow this very tight and well-rehearsed band to produce music that has a real liveliness and vigor to it.
This music is extremely uplifting, producing smiles among the gently pulsating body movements, and it must be even better live, when the spontaneous is allowed to erupt.
With the last track an eighteen minute video of the making of the CD, Alexandre Cunha can be watched bringing together this very fine band and creating the wonderful Batepapo 2.
Track Listing: Batepapo; Cantareira; Ritmo de Viagem; Lamento Sertanejo; Esperanca; Pescador; Um Baiao em Forma de Poema; Concepcao Acustica; Estilo Consagrado; Making of the CD.
Personnel: Alexandre Cunha: drums; Fernando Baeta: violao, guitar; Marcelo Fernandes: saxophones, flutes; Bruno Coppini: electric bass; Mauricio Piassarollo: keyboards (1-5); Janice Pezoa: keyboards (6-9).