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Z: A Jazzar No Zeca

Elliott Simon By

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Internationally renowned bassist, composer, and musical director Zé Eduardo has been a seminal figure and a long-time fixture on the Portuguese jazz landscape. To coincide with the 30th anniversary of the end of Portuguese rightist rule, he pays tribute to the songs of José Afonso with A Jazzar No Zeca.

To begin to comprehend the immense influence of singer/songwriter José "Zeca Afonso (1929-1987) on the Portuguese musical mindset, an American would have to consider the combined significance of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan. A socially conscious "protest singer whose compositions celebrated the land and its people, Zeca wrote the powerful "Grândola, Vila Morena, which was played on state radio in 1974 to signal the beginning of the "carnation revolution, so named because soldiers placed flowers in their rifles as the reigning totalitarian regime was swept out of power. The anthemic "Grândola, along wth seven other Zeca tunes, is given a very effective post bop treatment by Eduardo, Spanish tenorist Jesus Santandreu, and drummer Bruno Pedroso.

Santandreu has plenty of Trane in his tenor, and the trio is able to turn what for the most part are folk melodies into a burning success that stands on its own merits. Knowledge of the originals does, however, make these expanded versions all the more enjoyable, as Zeca's compelling lyrics and powerful phrasing translate into a modern jazz instrumental triumph. The trio gives initial homage to the elegiac pace and heart-wrenching vocal warble of "Cantar Alentejano, until tempo changes and sax explorations transform it into an improvisational blow.

"Canto Moço rocks out with almost Zappa-like abandon as Santandreu wah-wahs against a pumping beat, while "O Que Faz Falta is a happy up-tempo carnival. "Coro de Primavera is overtly Trane-ish in its introductory tenoric tension, with subsequent forays into exceptional bass and drum adventures that hearken back to the melody. A daring jazz take on the music of a critical artist.


Track Listing: Era de Noite e Levaram; Gr

Personnel: Z

Title: A Jazzar No Zeca | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


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