The continually evolving relationship between American jazz and Brazilian music is firm proof that the power of influence often travels in two directions. Todd Barkan's liner notes for Jive Samba touch on this fact by discussing the way that these musical forces have been blending and influencing one another for more than nine decades, going all the way back to when Brazilian choro giant Pixinguinha fell for jazz and rubbed shoulders with Louis Armstrong during a six-month stay in Paris in 1922. There have been countless examples of one musical culture feeding the other in the intervening years, and it's that idea that fuels this project.
The third effort from the Duduka Da Fonseca Triofollowing Plays Toninho Horta and New Samba Jazz Directions (Zoho Music, 2013)finds the drummer and his band mates interpreting Brazilian-influenced compositions written by American jazz giants. The album contains inspired performances that highlight the nexus between the aforementioned styles. There's the hip stroll of "Jive Samba," lifting off with a steady bass-and-tom hookup that supports the melody; a lively trip through Keith Jarrett's "Lucky Southern" that finds Da Fonseca and pianist David Feldman trading solos; a performance of Joe Henderson's oft-covered "Recorda Me" that opens on a Da Fonseca drum solo and features guest tenor saxophonist Paulo Levi; and a gorgeously mellow interpretation of Kenny Barron's "Clouds," a number that highlights the lyrical sensibilities of Feldman and bassist Guto Wirtti.
In organically developing the feel and flow of this music, these three men manage to completely erase the dividing line(s) between styles. This is best exemplified during the pleasantly flowing "Pensativa" and edgier "Samba Yantra." In both instances this trio manages to create music that dances, dazzles, and speaks in jazz and Brazilian tongues without rigidly adhering to any stylistic rules associated with the two. That, in a nutshell, is the hallmark of this group. As a concept, it's not difficult to grasp. Putting that principle into action, however, is no easy feat. But leave it to Duduka Da Fonseca to make the difficult seem easy. He's been doing that for decades and he keeps on getting better and better.
Track Listing: Jive Samba; Lucky Southern; Sco's Bossa; Recorda Me; Peresina; Clouds; Pensativa; Speak Like A Child; El Gaucho; Samba Yantra.
Personnel: Duduka Da Fonseca: drums; David Feldman: piano; Guto Wirtti: acoustic bass; Paolo Levi: tenor saxophone (4).
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