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Ben Sher: Samba for Tarsila

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Ben Sher: Samba for Tarsila
Ben Sher, an acclaimed jazz guitarist based in New York City, brings us Samba for Tarsila, in which he pays a musical tribute to the Brazilian modernist painter, Tarsila de Aguiar do Amaral (1886-1973). Her vivid abstract paintings of the Brazilian landscape have provided Sher with his inspiration for this project.

To help him realise his vision, Sher has assembled a Brazilian fusion jazz quartet, featuring top-class musicians from the New York jazz scene. Gary Fisher is a much sought after pianist who has played with Joe Farnsworth and Eric Alexander. Bassist Greg Jones has played with Astrud Gilberto and Carly Simon. Special guest Vanderlei Pereira, is one of the most respected Brazilian drummers in New York. He has recorded with Airto Moreira, Toots Thielemans and Dom Salvador.

The album opens with three Sher compositions, starting with the sprightly "Antropofagia" with Jones funky bass to the fore as Sher's chords set the scene before he moves into his solo. He is closely followed by lively solos from Fisher and Jones making this a compelling opening track. The title track follows, it is an open and appealing medium tempo track which allows Sher to shine. "Twilight" follows with a fast Sher solo over Pereira's drums. The Gilberto Gil composition, "Eu Vim da Bahia" is a classic Brazilian bossa nova with Pereira and Jones prominent in providing a fabric of evolving rhythmic structures to support solos from Sher and Fisher.

The jazz standard, "On Green Dolphin Street" (composed by Bronislaw Kaper and Ned Washington) follows. This track, reworked with a rhythm from Northern Brazil is styled into something fresh. The same cannot be said of the following track, "Never Can Say Goodbye." This song was originally written by Clifton Davis for The Supremes, but Motown directed it towards the Jackson 5 and it became one of the group's most successful records. It has been covered many times but this slow tempo cover lacks spark. Fortunately, another cover comes to the rescue in the shape of Jorge Ben's Brazilian standard, "Mas que Nada." This tune, popularised by Sergio Mendes, has bright rhythms together with inventive and satisfying solos from Fisher and Sher.

Sher's electric and acoustic guitar work is precise, his pacing intelligent and always entertaining. Throughout this album the group is close-knit and well connected. They create a variety of grooves, rhythms and textures for Sher to create his own vibrant musical landscape in tribute to Tarsila. An entertaining album with much to enjoy.

Track Listing

Anthropofagia; Samba for Tarsila; Twilight; Eu Vim da Bahia; On Green Dolphin Street; Never Can Say Goodbye; Mas Que Nada.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Samba for Tarsila | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Zoho Music


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