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Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet: Samba Jazz in Black & White

Jim Santella By

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Drummer Duduka Da Fonseca explains the title of his latest project in terms of the dual meaning of the expression "black & white. In its familiar common-sense usage, the term implies an element's fundamentals, its structure in simple terms, ignoring all the gray areas in between. To that end, the album explains the connection between jazz and samba quite clearly.

An alternate meaning that Da Fonseca conceived for this project comes from the distinctive black and white cultural backgrounds that have forged both jazz and samba into their recognized forms. This meaning applies if you consider origins; however, the shades of gray should never be ignored.

To these two accepted conceptions for the expression "black & white, I'd like to add another which comes directly from the music without regard to theory: the black and white of the piano keys that move this music. Helio Alves provides a powerfully percussive piano attack that drives this session from start to finish. Joining him in leading roles are saxophonist Anat Cohen, guitarist Guilherme Monteiro, bassist Leonardo Cioglia and Da Fonseca. The ensemble's sound sparkles with a sheen that burns smooth in its balance of soulful jazz and rhythmic samba. The leader ensures a propulsive force for portions of the program and allows the music to quench our thirst elsewhere through lovely ballad interpretations. Lyricism abounds.

Guest trumpeter Claudio Roditi lends a mellow texture to "Bye Bye Brasil, a quiet ballad that features Alves' piano in a complementary role. About half the album saunters with a similar ballad spirit that places a high value on tonal beauty and relative harmony. Even the up-tempo numbers emphasize a lyrical quality that makes the music shine. Da Fonseca has proven that jazz and samba share a common ancestor. While that ancestor lacks a proper name, it's best described as an appreciation of lyrical beauty when balanced with comfortable rhythms.

Hot solos by Da Fonseca, Vic Juris and Paulo Levi give the album an attractive imprint, but Dry Land stands out as the session's high point. Here, Monteiro, Alves and Cohen drive with exotic jazz melodies while Da Fonseca underscores a fiery samba foundation. Together they paint an accurate picture of the whole that's represented by the marriage of jazz and samba; you get the best of both worlds.

Track Listing: Mestre Bimba; Janeiro; Bye Bye Brasil; Chorinho pra Ele; Viver de Amor; Medo de Amar; Palha

Personnel: Duduka Da Fonseca: drums, percussion; Helio Alves: piano; Leonardo Cioglia: acoustic bass; Anat Cohen: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet; Guilherme Monteiro: electric and acoustic guitars; Maucha Adnet: vocals (1,6) ; Alana Da Fonseca: vocals (1); Vic Juris: guitar (5,6); Paulo Levi: tenor saxophone (5), flutes (6); Claudio Roditi: trumpet (3).

Title: Samba Jazz in Black & White | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Zoho Music

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