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Nilson Matta: Nilson Matta's Black Orpheus

Dr. Judith Schlesinger By

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This CD is the culmination of Nilson Matta's lifelong dream: to record his interpretation of the Orpheus music from the Brazilian play and movie of the 1950s. To make it happen, Matta enlisted fifteen superb players from Brazil and the United States, building his ensemble up from the rhythmic, native heart of the music. The result is a stunning accomplishment: a fresh translation of the timeless classics from Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius De Moraes, and Louis Bonfa, set in a virtual travelogue of Brazilian colors and sounds.

This delightful journey includes beloved melodies like "Samba de Orfeu," "A Felicidade," "Manha de Carnaval" and "Se Todos Fossen Iguais a Voce" (aka "Someone to Light up My life"), performed by stars like Kenny Barron, Anat Cohen, and Randy Brecker as well as masterful Brazilian players whose names are less globally known.

The CD also contains brief interludes of native percussion, like the pattering repinique, a small hand-drum, and the cuica, with its hooting, nearly human sound. Two short tracks are intense "Batacudas" that evoke the intricate churning of a Carnavale parade.

Singers include the increasingly-impressive Gretchen Parlato, who contributes her soulful breathiness to "Valse de Euridice" and the "Eu E O Meu Amor/Lamento No Morro" medley and the legendary Leny Andrade, who brings her signature power and passion to "A Felicidade" and "Se Todos Fossem..."

Matta completes his dream with two compositions of his own. The intriguing "Ascend, My Love" evokes the drama at the center of the myth: Orpheus's brilliant music has convinced the gods to let his beloved Eurydice return to life, but on her way up from the underworld she makes the same mistake as Lot's wife did when leaving Sodom and Gomorrah -she looks back, and disappears forever (so much for feminine curiosity!).

The party ends with Matta's jubilant "Hugs and Kisses," which, as he writes in his liner notes, "emphasizes my belief that, no matter what troubles we face, life must contain and be sustained by happiness." Certainly his Black Orpheus will bring joy to even the sharpest critic. This is some of the world's most melodic, expressive, and life-affirming music, and it reaches new heights when mixed with the swing and sophistication of jazz.

Track Listing: Overture; Repinique Interlude; Samba De Orfeu; A Felicidade; Cuica Interlude; O Nosso Amor; Manha De Carnaval; Batacuda I; Eu E O Meu Amor/Lamento No Morro; Frevo De Orfeu; Valsa De Euridice; Ascend, My Love; Um Nome De Mulher; Batacuda II; Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Voce; Violao Interlude; Hugs And Kisses.

Personnel: Nilson Matta: bass; Randy Brecker: trumpet (1, 6, 17); Anne Drummond: flute (1, 9, 11, 17); Laura Metcalf: cello (1); Guilherme Monteiro: guitar (1, 3, 4, 6, 9-11, 13, 16, 17); Klaus Mueller: piano (1, 6, 9, 11-13); Alex Kautz: drums (1, 3, 6, 7, 9-11, 13, 17); Reinaldo Silva: percussion (2, 8, 14, 17); Anat Cohen: clarinet (3, 10, 13); Kenny Barron: piano (3, 7, 10); Fernando Saci: percussion (3,5, 8-10, 12-14, 17); Leny Andrade: vocals (4, 15); Alfredo Cardim: piano (4, 15); Erivelton Silva: drums (4, 15); Jorjao Silva: percussion (8, 14, 17).

Title: Nilson Matta's Black Orpheus | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Motema Music

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