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Antonio Adolfo: Rio, Choro, Jazz...

Dan McClenaghan By

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Antonio Adolfo: Rio, Choro, Jazz... For the more casual fans, Bossa Nova is the Brazilian contribution to music. But there's more than that, and a background from which the popularization of Brazilian sound began in America via saxophonist Stan Getz' teamings with Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim on Getz/Gilberto (Verve Records, 1963) and guitarist Charlie Byrd for Jazz Samba (Verve Records, 1962).

Going deeper, and further back before the days of Bossa Nova, is pianist Antonio Adolfo on Rio, Choro, Jazz..., for an exploration of the music of seminal Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934).

Brazil, as much as America, has always stirred up a stew of musical styles. In the late nineteenth century, combining the influences of European dance forms, American Ragtime, and the rhythms of Africa—using European instrument such as the piano and a variety of guitars—a music called Choro was born. And Ernesto Nazareth was one of the most prolific and popular Choro composers.

Adolfo opens the disc with his lone composing contribution, the set's title tune. His piano and the guitar of Claudio Spiewak rise up to float over the face of the earth. The rhythm of bassist Jorge Helder and drummer Rafael Barata and percussionist Marcos Suzano are light yet insistent, while Marcelo Martin's flute seems to drift with the clouds.

The rest of the set covers the compositions of Ernesto Nazareth, spanning a time frame from 1881 to 1912. Supple melodic delicacy injected with African-tinged rhythmic energy is the approach. Like Bossa Nova that it influenced, Choro has a certain restraint and refinement, and an unrestrained beauty in these Adolfo jazz treatments.

The earliest of the Nazareth tunes covered here, "Nao Caio Noutra," is an ebullient ragtime romp in the Scott Joplin mode, perhaps the most American-influenced of the songs. From the year 1912 come the tunes "Fon-Fon" and "Tenebroso." The former rides a samba-ish groove, by turns serious and playful. The latter, has a rhythm that brings Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way" to mind, with a sweet and lyrical soprano sax turn inside the lilting piano work.

This is music called Choro written a century ago, but Antonio Adolfo has arranged and shaped it into the twenty-first century, giving it a modern sheen and revealing new facets of it beauty.

Track Listing: Rio, Choro, Jazz...; Feitico; Brejeiro; Fon-Fon; Tenebroso; Nao Caio Noutra; Coracao Que Sente; Cuera; Nene; Odeon.

Personnel: Antonio Adolfo: piano; Claudio Spiewak: guitars; Jorge Helder: bass; Marcelo Martins: flute, soprano saxophone; Rafael Barata: drums, percussion; Marcos Suzano: percussion.

Title: Rio, Choro, Jazz... | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: AAM Music


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