The rich musical history of Brazilian music parallels the development of jazz in the United States' in many ways. At the same time, the two informed and influenced each other as they matured. Brazilian legends like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Dori Caymmi are remembered for their influence on the development of Bossa Nova, and Jobim, like few composers of popular music in the 20th century, continues to be revered for his many contributions and innovations.
All this history is instantly recognizable in the compositions on pianist Dan Costa's latest record, Suite Três Rios. Tunes like "Samba" that begin with that joyfully familiar groove and its unmistakable lilt remind the listener that they are listening to musicians who are steeped in tradition, while the very same opening, simply by the fact that it is orchestrated on the modern drum set, also hints at what the new generation has to offer. The harmony is unmistakably modern jazz.
The crystalline opening chords in the high register of the piano that begin the opening track "Alba," indicative of a deep awareness of touch and tone, remind us of Jobim's fascination with the classical tradition. The rest of the track introduces us to a pianist and composer with a great respect for his peers. With hints of Geoffrey Keezer and Brad Mehldau in both feel and phrasing, Costa has clearly listened as much as he has practiced.
Judging by the solos on tracks like "Baião," Costa brought a band that really came to play. Guitarist Ricardo Silveira plays beautifully on the track, as he does throughout the record, and percussionist Marcos Suzano's subtle yet poignant percussion playing lends both atmosphere and drive to the track. Other highlights include the gorgeous "Bossa Nova" featuring vocalist Leila Pinheiro and the closer "Aria"
Fans of contemporary jazz will undoubtedly enjoy the latest from Dan Costa, and though those looking for Brazilian music in the style of Joao Gilberto or his contemporaries may not find what they are looking for, they will surely be pleasantly surprised to discover that Brazilian jazz, like its American counterpart, has fondly remembered its roots as it unabashedly moves forward.