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Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet: Jazz Samba-Samba Jazz

Dan Bilawsky By

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Drummer Duduka Da Fonseca is the patron saint of Samba Jazz. He's been singing the virtues of this hybridized form for quite some time, establishing a rhythmic middle ground where both worlds can meet in mutual, musical splendor. In short, he's earned the cymbal halo that floats above his head on the cover of Samba Jazz—Jazz Samba. He makes It clear, through the word reversal in this album's title, that he doesn't put one style in front of the other and he's demonstrated this time after time on his own records, on albums with cooperative outfits like Trio Da Paz and the Brazilian Trio, and as a sideman to the jazz stars.

Samba Jazz—Jazz Samba finds Da Fonseca drumming behind his stellar quintet and the playlist reads like a travelogue of his life experiences. Da Fonseca salutes friends, former band mates and musical brothers-in-arms, like pianist Dom Salvador, saxophonist Raul Mascarenhas, guitarist Toninho Horta, and the legendary Antonio Carlos Jobim, performing and reinterpreting some of the very music that he used to play with these men. He strikes various rhythmic poses, from light and playful to driving and dangerous, as he expertly steers the ship. Da Fonseca powers the up-tempo "Sabor Carioca," as saxophonist Anat Cohen, guitarist Guilherme Monteiro and pianist Helio Alves take center stage, and gently paints around Cohen's heartfelt clarinet on Jobim's rarely heard "Rancho Das Nuvens." He's also responsible for the spry samba feel on Cohen's arrangement of Ornette Coleman's "Blues Connotation" and the waltzing current beneath "Dona Olimpia."

While Da Fonseca's rhythmic zest is responsible for a good deal of the joy in this music, his band mates deserve equal credit, as they build upon that feeling. They paint with an eye on elegance ("Flying Over Rio"), provide probing thoughts ("Obstinado") and support one another. Cohen's clarinet is haunting on "The Peacocks," which also benefits from Monteiro's guitar work, Alves gets to the heart of the matter on "Obstinato," and bassist Leonardo Cioglia, who often prefers to remain in the rhythm section shadows, steps out for a rare solo on "Blues Connotation," which gives all four of these musicians a chance to let loose.

Duduka Da Fonseca's Samba Jazz-Jazz Samba doesn't offer anything radically new, but that wasn't its intent. Da Fonseca finds a sense of purpose in furthering the artistic marriage between his two loves and he accomplishes his mission on this album. This is music of substance built by one of the finest Brazilian-Jazz bridge builders working today.

Track Listing: Depois Da Chuva; Sabor Carioca; Rancho Das Nuvens; Blues Connotaion; 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.

Title: Jazz Samba-Samba Jazz | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Anzic Records

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