Brazilian saxophonist/flautist Carlos Malta demonstrates, on these two fine CDs, his proficiency of the entire saxophone and flute families, both in classical and Brazilian jazz contexts.
Pimenta , intended as a tribute to singer Elis Regina, covers the works of some of Brazil's premiere composers: Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Edu Lobo, Joao Bosco, Gilberto Gil. Although these classic tunes have been heard many times before, Malta digs deep into each song and offers the most spirited, challenging improvizations I've heard yet. Clearly, Malta has fused the language of American jazz improvization with the rhythms and harmonies of Brazilian music to create a result that's rich and true to both heritages. Malta's flute adventures on Jobim's "Aquas de Marco" (Waters of March) and Lobo's "Upa Neguinho" are breathtaking; ideas flow forth continuously as Malta bends pitches and harmonizes with himself by singing through the flute. Some of the most interesting interpretations come from his bass flute, on Nascimento's "Nada Sera Como Antes" (Nothing Will Be as It Was) and "Cais" (both accompanied by the 12-string guitar, bass and drums trio Triade) and Bosco's "Bala Com Bala," on which his voice/bass flute solo recalls Bosco's unique scat-singing and guitar style. On soprano sax, he scampers all over Jobim's "Chovendo na Roseira" (Children's Games). Malta doesn't neglect the softer side; gently swaying rhythms support his waxing soprano on Bosco's "O Bebado e a Equilibrista" and on the solo piece "Fascinacao," where his soprano is backed only by multitracked flute chord punctuations. To close, Malta freshens up the almost over-exposed "Girl From Ipanema" with inventive soprano lines. (500 Anos De Som 500-002)
Just as numerous American jazz musicians take occasional forays into classical music (Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Hubert Laws and Bob James come to mind), Malta has also released a classical disc, Pixinguinha Alma e Corpo , consisting entirely of the works of Brazilian composer Pixinguinha, arranged by Malta for sax or flute and string quartet for the Pixinguinha centennial. The program is delightful. Malta's technical command of his instruments, as well as that of the string quartet, is near perfect. The arrangements are intricate, yet breezy. This disc is perfect for a nice dinner party, or lounging around the house on a Sunday morning. However, since this review is being written for a web site that is devoted to jazz, be advised that there is really no jazz on this disc at all. But if you enjoy an occasional diversion into classical ensemble music, I can certainly recommend this one. (500 Anos De Som 500-001)
Track Listing: OnPimenta: Nada Sera Como Antes; Aguas de Marco; Upa Neguinho; Cais; Bala Com Bala; Chovendo Na Roseira; Ladeira Da Preguica; O Bedado e a Equilibrista; Fascinacao; Garota de Ipanema. OnPixinguinha Alma e Corpo: Naquele Tempo; Dininha; Lamentos; Oscarina; Proezas de Solon; Rosa; A Vida e Um Buraco; I X O; Segura Ele; Carinhoso.
Personnel: OnPimenta: Carlos Malta - soprano sax, baritone sax, flute, bass flute; Itamar Assiere, Osmar Milito, Cliff Karman - piano; Jurim Moreira, Luis Sabral, Kesso Fernandes - drums; Augusto Matoso - bass; Dalmo C. Mota, Gabriel Improta - guitar. OnPixinguinha Alma e Corpo: Carlos Malta - Flute, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax; Ricardo Amado, Mariana Salles - violin; Jayro Diniz - viola; Hugo Pilger - cello.