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Nilson Matta: Nilson Matta's Black Orpheus

Edward Blanco By

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Brazilian bassist Nilson Matta has, like all artists, has drawn inspiration for his music from a variety of sources—of which a play and a movie serve as the influence for the moving Black Orpheus. Antonio Carlos Jobim's compositions for the 1957 Vinicius De Moraes Brazilian play Orfeu da Conceicao and the 1959 Black Orpheus movie that went on to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is beautifully and tastefully reimagined here with the benefit of an all-star cast of players.

The realization of a project Matta has been contemplating for over two decades, the music had to be more than just another Brazilian album, it had to reflect the varied rhythms, carnival flavor and most of all, the culture of Brazil and on this count and much more, the album is a resounding success. German-born New York-based pianist Klaus Mueller along with young flautist Anne Drummond and Grammy Award winning trumpeter Randy Brecker highlight the opening "Overture" providing a taste of what's in store. Jobim's classic "A Felicidade" and "O Nosso Amor" are treated quite well here with Leny Andrade —once described by Tony Bennett as "The Ella Fitzgerald of Brazilian Jazz"—supplying the vocals on "A Felicidade" and Brecker the lead on Amor.

Arrangements by Mueller and Matta on "Eu O Meli Amor/Lamento No Morro" provide a stage for incredible vocals from Gretchen Parlato—one of the genre's rising stars. Piano master Kenny Barron makes his presence known on the percussive and lively "Frevo De Orfeu" with a little help from clarinetist Anat Cohen and Fernando Saci on the pandiero. Young Brazilian-born Guilherme Montiero, who is a mainstay throughout the album, accompanies Parlato on what is essentially a duet for the first three minutes of the sensuous "Valsa De Euridice," perhaps the warmest piece of the set.

The sounds of Brazil continue with Matta contributing two of his own compositions with the brief but engaging, "Ascend, My Love," and the jubilant carnival-like closer "Hugs and Kisses" and between them, the notable "Un Nome De Mulher," and "Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Voce" delivering more musical magic. Though a long time in coming, Nilson Matta's reinterpretation of the music he fell in love with as a child, is at last here with Black Orpheus, adding yet another chapter to the Orpheus legend and coming full circle from a play, to a movie, and finally, to the landscape of recorded music.

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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