Nilson Matta's Brazilian Voyage: Copacabana

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Nilson Matta's Brazilian Voyage
Zoho Music

How it is possible that bassist Nilson Matta is allowed to fly so low under the proverbial radar, with recognition coming mainly from his peers, is one of those mysteries that artists have to learn to live with. Meanwhile, Matta has been complementing the music of luminaries from singers Joao Gilberto, Xiomara Alfaro and Chico Buarque do Holanda, and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal, to saxophonist Joe Henderson and pianist Don Pullen, with grace and majesty.

Matta's career has spanned decades and throughout he has been a musician of immense technical skill and a composer with daring, creative ideas. Copacabana, an album that brings together tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, flutist Anne Drummond, pianist Klaus Mueller and Matta's radiant rhythm section of drummer Mauricio Zottarelli and percussionist Zé Mauricio, is a tour de force of composition and musicianship of the highest order.

Although the title of the album may give the impression that this is a carioca singing sensuously of the myth and reality of Brazil, it is much more than that. With five of the nine tracks on this album written by him, Matta guides the ear and the heart gently on a journey of fluttering classicism and the almost mystical dancing that characterizes any expedition through Brazilian countryside. Throughout he has imbued his musical impressions with the sizzle of sun and surf, the sway of dense foliage, and the sashaying of feet that samba even as they simply walk through everyday life.

Matta has also shown that he is a master of composition. His "Aguas Brasileiras" is a superbly crafted piece that ascends rarified air in much the same way as the Cuban classic "Drume Negrita" does. His pizzicato solo shows just how eloquent he can be while putting his technical wizardry through its paces. His elegiac offering to the Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, "Baden," has the cry of a soulful ballad even as it elevates the guitarist to sainthood. On "Pantanal" he plays con arco and unaccompanied, as he gently guides the music through the splendor of the Brazil of Amazonia.

It bears mention here that Matta is ever graceful as he interprets Villa-Lobos' "Trenzinho do Caipira," a piece from that composer's larger work, "Bachianas Brasileiras," navigating its many twists and turns with sublime sophistication. His version of that other Brazilian classic, Ary Barroso "Aquarela do Brasil," unlike many versions of the piece, sparkles with glitter on the soft textures of Brazilian rhythm as it sways and dances. On Luis Gonzaga and Heitor Teixeira's "Asa Branca/Baião Matta guides the ensemble—especially flutist Drummond, who is outstanding here, as are the percussionists—through the joyful, skipping twists of the eternal melody from one of Brazil's most sophisticated folk musicians. Allen also contributes a gem of a song, "I Can See Forever." This is a chart that not only captures the grace and swagger of Brazil's open vistas, but also shows Allen's great sensitivity as a composer. Predictably, the tenor saxophonist excels with the warmth and splendor of tone and manner on this track.

Matta has crafted a superb album from end to end. It is a set that ought to resonate, not just with lovers of Brazilian music, but quite simply with every note of significant music. As far as celebrating the virtuosity and craftsmanship of one of music's great bassists, this is another chapter in the ongoing testament of its creator.

Tracks: Baden; Trenzinho do Caipira; Aguas Brasileiras; Brazil (Aquarela Do Brasil); Pantanal; Copacabana; Saci Pereré I Can See Forever; Asa Branca/Baião.

Personnel: Harry Allen: tenor saxophone; Anne Drummond: flute; Klaus Mueller: piano; Nilson Matta: bass, acoustic guitar (6); Mauricio Zottarelli: drums; Zé Mauricio: percussion.

Year Released: 2010

Related Video


More Articles

Read Oceans of Vows Extended Analysis Oceans of Vows
by John Kelman
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House Extended Analysis Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House
by John Kelman
Published: March 4, 2017
Read Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word Extended Analysis Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word
by Doug Collette
Published: March 3, 2017
Read Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight Extended Analysis Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon Extended Analysis Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon
by Doug Collette
Published: February 18, 2017
Read Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix) Extended Analysis Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
by John Kelman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" Extended Analysis Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 30, 2016
Read "Various Artists: Yugoslavian Space Program" Extended Analysis Various Artists: Yugoslavian Space Program
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Vitor Pereira Quintet: New World" Extended Analysis Vitor Pereira Quintet: New World
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 29, 2016
Read "Thomas Stronen: Time Is A Blind Guide" Extended Analysis Thomas Stronen: Time Is A Blind Guide
by John Kelman
Published: March 27, 2016
Read "Tony Williams: Life Time" Extended Analysis Tony Williams: Life Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows" Extended Analysis Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows
by John Kelman
Published: March 23, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus


Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!