Pianist, composer and educator Antonio Adolfo's second instrumental release as a leader, on his own AAM label, is entitled Finas Misturas (in English, "fine mixtures"). The name refers to the fusion of jazz elements with the rhythms and sensibilities of Adolfo's native Brazil. The result is a pleasing batch of six covers and four originals.
A laid-back, summery ambience dominates this carefully orchestrated album. Even the pieces associated with bop and post-bop pioneers are transformed into serene, pastel landscapes peppered with hints of Latin dances and songs. John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" looses its edgy intensity in favor of a smooth and mellow tonality. Percussionist Rafael Barata's drums beat out a galloping quadrilha (a Brazilian square dance) rhythm over which roll Adolfo's languid piano lines. Far from a fire-breathing saxophonist, reedman Marcelo Martins nevertheless plays the iconic tune with agility and cool assurance.
Another Coltrane piece, "Naima," is endowed with a warm and lush arrangement. Adolfo's light touch on the keys colors the background with bluesy hues that reflect off Rafael Barata's elegant percussion. Meanwhile Martins stretches out a bit, his serpentine flute improvising on the framework of the standard and not wandering very far from it.
Adolfo and electrical guitarist Leo Amudeo play Keith Jarrett's "Memories of Tomorrow" as a sparkly sweet duet that is tad too syrupy at times. Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" trades in its primal exuberance for a softly undulating bossa nova accent that features a charming sonic contrast between acoustic guitarist Claudio Spiewak's fine strummed chords and Amudeo's classy but more resonant vibrations.
Adolfo's own toada, "Floresta Azul" and his up-tempo samba, "Misturando," feature bassist Jorge Helder's lyrical and lilting strings. Helder handles his cumbersome instrument with dexterity as his solo flows in and out of the theme on the former and gracefully swings over Barata's polished drum work on the latter.
This candied and effervescent record, although short on improvisational rigor, is filled with appealing harmonies and enough variety to entertain without being innovative or intellectually demanding.
Floresta Azul; Balada; Giant Steps; Con Alma; Misturando; Memories Of Tomorrow; Naima; Tres Meninos; Crystal Silence; Time Remembered.
Antonio Adolfo: piano; Jorge Helder: bass; Rafael Barata: drums, percussion; Leo Amuedo: electric guitar (1, 4-8); Claudio Spiewak: acoustic guitar (2-5, 9); Marcelo Martins: tenor saxophone, flute (1, 3-5, 7, 9, 10).
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