Jon Gold: Brazil Confidential (2010)
Jon Gold is a fluid and lyrical pianist with a deft approach, who lets his ideas flow with facile ease. His artistry is not surprising, given that his early influences were classical composers like Ravel, as well as jazz pianists Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner. He was entranced enough by Tyner to learn almost all of his solos note-for-note, but it is in Brazilian music that Gold finds his muse, the first link to that genre coming when he heard Sergio Mendes' Equinox (A&M, 1967). The association was underscored after he moved to Rio de Janeiro to teach chemistry and met Hermeto Pascoal and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Gold has a strong band of American and Brazilian musicians for his debut, Brazil Confidential. He shifts the line-up to emphasize the compositions and enhance the different moods he invests into the music, effectively capturing several of the rhythmic patterns that go into the fabric of Brazilian music.
The rolling atmospherics of "Além do Azul" are set in motion by percussionist Ze Mauricio and Gold, who creates a balmy mood as he works the melody. Flautist Jorge Continento gets deeper into the pith, while violinist Zach Brock comes in with fluid, agile lines as the tune takes a neat turn into a breezier ambit. The tempo is constantly churning until it gets up to dance and cavort, the change of mood channeling the tune into sunny acclamations.
Of the three vocal tracks, "Confissão" is particularly compelling. Singer Tatiana Parra lends it a poignant depth, her voice aching and heart-rending. She has the perfect complement in Gold, whose gentle dynamics turn the arrangement up more than a notch. Leah Siegel, who adds back-up vocals to this song, has two features of her own, "Paraty" and "Parazen." The former, a ballad, sits right in with Siegel's airy vocals that are in a sense wordlessshe uses only a "la" to infer the melody and the pulse. Guitarist Scott "Scottinho" Anderson's chords enhance the feel, as does Lauren Riley Rigby's cello on the "Parazen.." Gold is judicious in his accompaniment, knowing just how to get the most out of a song.
"Parfuso a Menos" is a peppy and zany off-kilter tune that soprano saxophonist Anat Cohen drives right into a veering groove. More bounce comes from flautist Andrew Sterman and a colorful, zippyif far too shortrun from Gold.
Track Listing: Alem Do Azul; Funky Jabour; Teresinha; Carioca Da Clara; Confissao; Singela; Vitamin B; Paraty; Parafuso A Menos; Janacek Suite No. 4; Rapadura; Parazen.
Personnel: Jon Gold: piano, keyboards; Harvie S: bass; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums; Jorge Continentino: woodwinds; Scott "Scottinho" Anderson: guitars; Ze Mauricio: percussion; Anat Cohen: woodwinds; Zach Brock: violin; Andrew Sterman: flute; Bryan Murray: woodwinds; Luiz Ribeiro: guitar; Toninho Ferragutti: accordion; Tatiana Parra: vocals; Leah Siegel: vocals; Katie Scheele: English horn; Lauren Riley Rigby: cello.