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Antonio Adolfo: Samba Jazz Alley

Chris Mosey By

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With this album, Antonio Adolfo, an early exponent of bossa nova, takes a look at the roots of the music in his hometown, Rio de Janeiro. He recalls: "From 1958 to 1965 a small alley in the Copacabana district became known as Beco das Garrafas, Bottles Alley, because neighbours in taller buildings used to throw bottles down from their apartments in protest at the loud music and boisterous conversation coming from below. It was like a cauldron of jazz, samba and bossa nova, thanks to adventurous young musicians who found it an ideal place to get together.

"The alley's four nightclubs gradually welcomed them as this new type of music took hold. In 1962, as a 15-year-old, I discovered the alley through some jazz enthusiast friends and started to drop by on Saturday nights after parties. I was already a big fan of jazz and bossa and was starting to play piano. I figured that Bottles Alley was exactly what I needed to grow as a musician by learning from other musicians. What a great place to go!"

Because of his youth, Adolfo needed special permission from the local juvenile court to play in the alley's clubs. But with visiting US jazzmen making their way to the alley to jam with the locals, he was in the right place at the right time and soon abandoned his study of law to become a full-time musician. He says: "No regrets! I was playing what was baptized samba jazz with some of the finest musicians of the time. Looking back, I see that Bottles Alley was the most important music academy of my life."

On this album Adolfo plays with a three-horn frontline—trumpeter Jesse Sadoc, saxophonist Marcelo Martins and trombonist Rafael Rocha. The set opens with Johnny Alf's "Ceu e Mar (Sky and Sea)," a precursor to "The Girl From Ipanema," following which Adolfo doffs his hat to Herbie Hancock with the soul-tinged "Hello, Herbie."

"So por Amor" (Just for Love) by fellow Rio musician, guitarist Baden Powell, is more relaxed with Rocha to the fore. The mystical, lilting "Case Forte" (Strong House) by Edu Lobo, was originally recorded by Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.

The closing number is perhaps the best known: Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Corcovado." It means "Hunchback" in Portuguese and describes the 2,300 foot mountain that towers above Rio, topped by the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer.

Track Listing: Ceu e Mar (Sky and Sea); Hello, Herbie; So Por Amor (Just For Love); Casa Forte (Strong House); Tristeza de Nos Dios (Sadness of the Two of Us); The Frog; Obrigado (Thank You); Passarim (Little Bird); Corcovado.

Personnel: Antonio Adolfo: piano and arrangements; Lula Galvao, Claudio Spiewak: guitar; Jorge Helder: bass; Rafael Barata: drums; Dada Costa: percussion; Jesse Sadoc: trumpet; Marcelo Martins: saxophones, alto flute; Rafael Rocha: trombone; Mauricio Einhorn, Gabriel Grossi: harmonica; Claudio Spiewak: shaker.

Title: Samba Jazz Alley | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: AAM Music

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