Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet: Samba Jazz (2012)
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Throughout his four decade-plus career, drummer/percussionist/composer Duduka Da Fonseca has successfully bridged the gap between the samba of his native Brazil and jazz, either when performing as the co-leader of Trio da Paz or as a sideman with the likes of pianist Kenny Barron, guitarist/vocalist Antonio Carlos Jobim and bassist Rufus Reid.
On this second release with his quintet, Da Fonseca brings together a collection of tunes culled from his vast experience on the road and in the studio, adapting tunes by American composers like saxophonist Ornette Coleman and pianist Jimmy Rowles, while also including mostly obscure tunes by Brazilian composers.
The CD kicks off with "Depois da Chuva," a Dom Salvador samba that allows saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen to improvise freely around the melody's simple structure. Pianist Helio Alves also presents a dexterous solo, while the rest of the band provides a solid backbeat. Raul Mascarenhas's "Sabor Carioca" follows, with an up-tempo groove that shows the bandleader's subtle ability to include accents and polyrhythms without overwhelming the band.
As with most Da Fonseca's albums, the drummer includes a lesser-known Jobim tune; this time it's "Rancho das Nuvens," a classically inspired tune with touches of early Brazilian country music ("ranchos"). The tune's complexity gives the musicians the opportunity to relax within the melody. Cohen leads the melody on clarinet, while Guilherme Monteiro provides a subtle accompaniment on electric guitar. Alves is also featured, responding to Cohen's groove with cleverly placed notes.
Also notable is "Flying Over Rio," a slow bossa by Da Fonseca and the only original composition on the disc. The tune sounds like a soundtrack to the imagery of an airplane slowly gliding over the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, while making its approach towards Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport. Bassist Leonardo Cioglia performs a beautiful solo, following Alves' Carioca-flavored individual moment. The tune has all the makings of a standard, thanks to its hummable melody and nostalgic feel.
Track Listing: Depois da Chuva; Sabor Carioca; Rancho Das Nuvens; Blues Connotations; Obstinado; The Peacocks; O Guarana; Flying Over Rio; Dona Olimpia; Melancia.
Personnel: Anat Cohen: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Helio Alves: piano; Guilherme Monteiro: guitar; Leonardo Cioglia: bass; Duduka Da Fonseca: drums.
Record Label: Anzic Records