Erik Charlston JazzBrasil: Essentially Hermeto (2011)
Erik Charlston puts the tonal palettes of two similar, yet singularly different instruments to brilliant use. On vibraphone he the polyphonic circular harmonies that go with the elementally beautiful melodies of Pascoal's music conjuring scenes of ecstatic nature; then he plays the flatter, more elliptical sounds of the marimba to guide the heart through its aching palpitations. Lines stretch and dally; tempos slow down and the pulse of the music is barely sustainable through the taut neurons of sadness. Suddenly the bright tingle of the triangle and pandeiro, the cuica and samba whistle break through; or the shekere and the wistfulness of the music dissipate like clouds parting. Sunshine is revealed and the strains of the repentista, the sorrowful penitent, turns to ebullience in the sunshine of the Northeast of Brazil.
The changes are palpable in "San Antonio" through "Rebuliço," and most especially in "Essa Foi Demais." Things heat up in the fever of Egberto Gismonti's maracatu, "Frevo Rasgado." Charlston does a star turn in his joyful tribute to the master in "Hermeto," capturing his wild affection for life. This is followed by a leap into the world of choro, the heart and soul of Brazilian music and Charlston is all in for the ride. His vocal, though sometimes a little anglicized is joyful and full of Brazilian verve.
No praise is high enough for the production values of this album. Its careful engineering captures the instruments and all their nuanced details with crisp and bright sound. And of course the musicians are all at the top of their game, especially pianist Mark Soskin, bassist Jay Anderson and percussionists Rogerio Boccato and the irrepressible Caféwho is, in fact, an indomitable spirit on the album, Pascoal included.
Track Listing: Valle de Ribeira; Rebuliço; Santo Antonio; Essa Foi Demais; Hermeto; Paraiba; Frevo Rasgado; Viva o Rio de Janeiro.
Personnel: Erik Charlston: vibraphone, marimba, vocals (6); Ted Nash: saxophones, flute, clarinet; Mark Soskin: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Rogéirio Boccato: drums, percussion; Café: percussion.
Record Label: Sunnyside Records
Style: Beyond Jazz