The following words probably do Brazilian bassist, composer and bandleader Leonardo E. M. Cioglia no favors, because it lays the weighty burden of expectation upon him and his group of young musicians. But no other words say precisely this: Contos showcases an acoustic jazz ensemble that so deftly features each individual voice, while naturally integrating each voice into an organic ensemble sound, that Contos continually evokes the legendary Gary Burton-Chick Corea-Pat Metheny meeting of their acoustic Like Minds (Concord, 1998).
As Contos' bassist, Cioglia is more felt than heard. He does not solo, not even once. His bass bubbles up through the rhythmic crevices of "Planalto Central," then simmers back down into the groove. He aggressively moves "Filhos Do Pequi" through the irresistible propulsion of Latin jazz, while Aaron Goldberg double-pumps a colorful and lusty piano solo and saxophonist John Ellis breathes dragon fire on sax; the soloists meanwhile churn atop a rhythmic undertow that conjures the mystical, electric Latin fusion spirit of Return to Forever.
As composer and bandleader, Cioglia allows Ellis and guitarist Mike Moreno to dominate the solo space along with Stefon Harris, whose crystalline vibes ring through six tunes. Moreno consistently displays his grasp of the pastoral eloquenceand more importantly, the sheer beautyof Metheny's guitar approach. Shining like a beacon through the opening title track, tempering "Santa Maria" with soft clouds of melancholy chords, and coupling with sax to create a single, singing voice in "Aroma de Mel," Moreno sounds simply brilliant throughout.
Contos also explores the native music and jazz of Brazil with familiarity and wonder. Harris' vibes lead the soft, reflectively sad melody of "Desfiladeiro de Nuvens" while drummer Antonio Sanchez and Cioglia ebb and flow through its supple Brazilian rhythm. The light melody of "Lençois de Areia" dances on Harris' vibes, shooting sparks off of Moreno's guitar to ignite a smoldering Brazilian fire. Contos resonates with beautiful proof that music need not always be played very loud or fast to be intense.
Contos (Do Neco); Santa Maria; Filhos Do Pequi; Aroma de Mel; Planalto Central; Pontos Cardeais; Olhos d'Água; Desfiladeiro de Nuvens; Lençois de Areia; Canção ao Tempo.
Leonardo E. M. Cioglia: acoustic bass; John Ellis: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; Mike Moreno: electric guitar, acoustic steel string guitar; Stefon Harris: vibraphone, marimba; Aaron Goldberg: acoustic piano; Antonio Sanchez: drums, cymbals.
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