Claudio Roditi: Simpatico & The Mastery of Passion
Claudio Roditi, along with Michael Brecker, was a "special guest" on two LPs the young keyboardist Harris Simon made for producer George Klabin at the end of the '70s. Klabin must have liked what he heard in the Brazilian trumpeter/flugelhornist for a couple years ago Roditi did his first recording as a leader for Klabin's Resonance label, Brazilliance x 4, followed now by Simpatico, Roditi's first CD of exclusively his own works. As those familiar with Roditi's playing might expect, his compositions are tuneful, the faster ones catchy and bright, the ballads endearing and lyrical.
Simpatico mixes uptempos, ballads and blues, as well as personnel. At the core behind Roditi are drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, electric bassist John Lee and pianist Helio Alves. Joining them on various tracks is trombonist Michael Dease or guitarist Romero Lubambo. With Trio da Paz members Da Fonseca and Lubambo, plus the leader and fellow Rio native Alves on board, a samba/bossa vibe is prominent as expected. But this isn't merely another Brazilian jazz album; it's more expansive than that. For one thing, Roditi expands his instrument range, tackling that difficult mini-horn the piccolo trumpet on "Piccolo Blues," conjuring shades of King Oliver by playing it, in a quartet setting sans samba beats, with a wah-wah mute. The other blues, "Blues for Ronni," steps out in an Art Blakey blues-march mode, trombone and trumpet attacking the backbeat with rich solo flourishes and, after get-down piano and bass solos, spirited fours trades. Roditi's outgoing lyricism and warm flugelhorn tone come to the fore on the ballads, especially his captivating "Slow Fire," the one track burnished with a string arrangement by Kuno Schmid. And there's a wide variety in the samba/bossa selections too, from the intricate forms and harmonic changes in "Spring Samba" and "Slammin'" to the fleet fluidity of the guitar-driven "How Intensitive" and "Vida Nova."
The Mastery of Passion, by the aforementioned keyboardist Harris Simon and recorded in 1979-80, is a product of a time when jazz crossover was an attainable goal. Producers like Creed Taylor (CTI) were creating strong-selling albums, often by leavening their jazz with 'sweetening' plus smooth-flowing rhythms wafting on Caribbean breezes. One inspiration for these sessions may well have been the success of CTI's Deodato, a Brazilian jazz pianist whose recordings were outfitted with such orchestral decoration. "Wind Chant," the opening track of The Mastery of Passion, uses the Deodato blueprint of samba rhythms, voices, strings and swirling Fender Rhodes in a seductive mix sailed over by a young Michael Brecker's authoritative tenor sax. While some tracks verge toward the too-smooth, what distinguishes this album, besides the fine solos of Brecker, Roditi and, yes, Simon, is the high energy level and intoxicating rhythmic momentum of the best tracks.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Spring Samba; Alfitude; Piccolo Blues; Slow Fire; How Intensitive; A Dream for Kristen; Alberto and Daisy; Blues for Ronni; Slammin'; Waltz for Joana; Vida Nova; Winter Dreams.
Personnel: Claudio Roditi: trumpet: flugelhorn; piccolo trumpet: vocals; Helio Alves: piano; John Lee: electric bass; Duduka da Fonseca: drums; Romero Lubambo: guitar; Michael Dease: trombone.
The Mastery of Passion
Tracks: Wild Chant; Swish; Midday Dreams; Factory; Don the Don; Stonehenge; Romance of Death; City Light; All Points South; Loufiana; Street Song.
Personnel: Harris Simon: piano: Fender Rhodes: harmonica; Michael Brecker: tenor sax; Claudio Rodidi: trumpet and flugelhorn; Bill Washer: Scott Hardy: guitar; Mike Richmond, Ratzo Harris: basses; Brian Blake, Portinho, Grady Tate, John Riley: drums; Andy Laverne: synthesizer; Joe Farrell: flute; Michael Urbaniak: violin; Guilherme Franco and Escola de Samba: percussion; Vocal Jazz: Inc.; Julliard Strings.