Brazilian pianist/composer Jovino Santos Neto
came to the United Startes in 1993, and settled in the city of Seattle. He had visited the city while on tour with the legendary Brazilian musician/composer Hermeto Pascoal
, and identified with the physical beauty and cultural landscape of the Pacific Northwest. No matter his global location, Santos Neto is not only a remarkable musician and composer, he is as well the caretaker, or curator of the compositions of the visionary Pascoal. Through his own music, he celebrates the marriage between the music of his country with jazz, and expresses a love for his homeland illuminated through his ebullient and captivating creative persona.
Seattle is indeed as far as one can travel in the continental United States from Brazil, but the city has embraced Santos Neto's music enthusiastically, along the way learning and experiencing the world seen through the lens of his magnetic genius.
Santos Neto has an ally in Seattle in Brazilian vocalist Adriana Giordano
. Giordano took up singing later than most, and threw herself into it with abandon. Supported by a jazz community whose interest in Brazilian forms was already ignited by the presence of Santos Neto, she saw an opportunity, and ultimately acted. Through her Giordano Productions, she has exposed Seattleites to many of the great Brazilian musicians, including guitarist Yamandu Costa
For this session, Giordano ventured to bring singer Maucha Adnet
and guitarist Romero Lubambo
to Seattle's Triple Door, backed by none other than The Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto. It would be an evening of tribute to the great Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim
on the date of his birth.
A simple soundboard recording met Jovino's discerning ear after the performance, the quality delighting and surprising him. He took to the studio to mix and master it at David Lange Studios. The performance was exemplary, the sound quality suitable for release. Covering ten of Jobim's best known works, Adnet and Lubambo delivered an inspired and genuine performance, backed by the flawless play of this marvelous quinteto, with whom Santos Neto has performed since his arrival in Seattle.
Adnet performs in almost hypnotic fashion, delivering a message of passion discernible to any listener without even the faintest notion of the Portuguese language. Her intimate relationship with the music of Jobim was honed by performing with him from 1984-1994 as a member of his Banda Nova. Her recordings with him include the Grammy winner Antonio Brasileiro
(Sony Music, 1995).
Romero's guitar playing unites the styles and rhythms of his native Brazilian musical heritage with intimate knowledge of the American jazz tradition. His interaction with this group of musicians was a perfect match. Along with the Brazilian master Santos Neto on piano, the group includes master jazz bassist Chuck Deardorf
, vibraphonist Ben Thomas
, and the eclectic percussion duo of Mark Ivester
and Jeff Busch. The many currents that run through this band perfected over a quarter century integrate seamlessly with the languid vocal style of Adnet, and deep harmonic inflections of Lubambo.
The music for this concert was arranged by Santos Neto, with the exception of "Aguas de Marco" (Waters of March), which carries Adnet's personal touch. Two of the tracks are instrumentals, including the opener, "Surfboard." Lumbambo's guitar intro on "One Note Samba" is an example of his mastery of both of the musical worlds within which he resides.
The chemistry between Santos Neto and vibraphonist Thomas is engaging, each seeming to present a mirror image of each other in terms of energy, joy, and musical virtuosity. Bassist Deardorf is brilliant as well, seemingly gathering the energy on stage and distributing it to each component of the band, creating a rarely achieved harmony. Drummer Ivester is a perfectly timed keeper of the flame, allowing Busch to improvise with a myriad of percussion instruments gathered from around the world, largely from locales aside from Brazil and North America.
As far as Adnet is concerned, her vocals are superb throughout, as one would suspect. The opening line of "A Felicidade" will send a shiver up your spine. It is as if the entirety of Jobim's legacy is expressed in one breath.
Santos Neto is like a beacon of Brazilian culture illuminating the world from his remote outpost in Seattle. His piano playing is stunning, while also offering a lively melodica solo on " Wave." His energy, dedication to his culture, and creative genius while performing is like an oasis of positivity and celebration of life. His choices for this recording reflect Jobim's more popular pieces such as "Girl From Ipanema," and Aguas de Marco," but as well his more aesthetic works such as "Chovendo na Roseira" (Double Rainbow), and "As Praias Desertas" (The Desert Beaches). Thomas' brilliant bandoneon solo on the latter not only exemplifies his talents, but those as well of Santos Neto in assembling this brilliant ensemble.
There is much concern about the future of Brazil among its people, both in country and abroad. The far-right incoming regime of Jair Bolsonaro will be inaugurated as the fifth elected president since Brazil returned to democracy after the 1964-85 military dictatorship that Bolsonaro himself once praised. After a polarizing and violent election, many fear the loss of hard fought progressive freedoms.
In a very real sense, the beautiful culture of the Brazilian people, including its music, has even greater importance in these times. The music of Jobim is a national treasure, as is that of Pascoal. The work of Santos Neto to not only preserve their music, but enhance its essence through interpretation and expressive performance is noteworthy. To achieve that with such ardent virtuosity is vintage Santos Neto.