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.
Track Listing: 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.
Personnel: 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.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.