Erik Charlston JazzBrasil: Essentially Hermeto (2011)
Things get a little stranger on more ambitious tunes like "Rebuliço" (a great showcase for bassist Jay Anderson) and the frenetically paced "Essa Foi Demais." The latter features plenty of Pascoalesque percussive atmosphere at the beginning, before turning into a full-length sprint. The ensemble does well when it takes on non-Pascoal tunes; Egberto Gismonti's "Frevo Rasgado" is almost a two-hander, pitting Charlston's intricate vibe work against Mark Soskin's inventive piano lines.
The lengthy tone poem simply called "Hermeto" is particularly impressive. Here, the band stretches out significantly. Charlston uses reverb and long lines to build a mysterious atmosphere on both vibes and marimba for more than three minutes. Once the track kicks in, the ensemble establishes a sweet, if conventional, groove for Soskin and a lovely flute workout from Nash.
Is Essentially Hermeto anything to write home about? Most of the time, the music herein is just really good jazza fitting tribute to one of the least-understood geniuses in the world. But occasionally it touches brilliance: the full-on Carnival percussion break that winds up "Viva o Rio de Janeiro," Charlston's lovely vocal on "Paraiba," the twin explorations on "Frevo Rasgado." When this band stretches itself, there aren't many other groups that can touch it. Fortunately, Pascoal's back catalog is incredibly deep and richand largely unmined. It would be welcome if Erik Charlston and his group continue to work this territory for years to come.
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; Rogério Boccato: drums, percussion; Café: percussion.
Record Label: Sunnyside Records
Style: Beyond Jazz