A tribute record can be an interesting way to discover an artistespecially one with such a lengthy career, gone previously unnoticed.
Most of the material by phenomenal flautist Lori Bell on The Music of Djavan is originally from the 70s, and here she takes a look at the Brazilian singer-songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Al Jarreau and Carmen McRae. In 2000, Djavan won a Grammy for Best Brazilian Song at the first Latin Grammy Awards.
Leaving enough space for other instruments (besides the flute) ensures the funk-fueled back beat stays strong during most of this recording. Bell is not given extended solo time and the overall sound she creates does not drift carelessly into space (as too much flute can sometimes do in jazz). All but one of the tracks features instrumental music.
"A Ilha (The Island)" calls attention to pianist Tamir Hendelman, from Israel. In 2001 he appeared at the Hollywood Bowl as part of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, playing excerpts from the legendary Oscar Peterson album, Canadiana Suite (Limelight, 1964). Peterson personally compliments Hendelman in his online journal, calling the new young voice "exhilarating and thoughtful." One should keep their eyes and ears open for Hendelman's name and inventive sound. In only the second tune, a solid rhythm section of bassist David Enos and drummer Enzo Todesco begin to flex their mighty musical muscles, rounding out what would be a great bop trio.
With a flurry of flute and a peppering of piano, "Serrado" sounds like a natural soundtrack to a smoky 70s film.
By the mid-point of the CD, any thoughts of wishing Bell was a saxophonist have been cast aside. Purists may struggle with the flute out in front, but interestingly, her transition from what might be expected out of a smooth jazz sound, into free-jazz/funk territory, is fresh.
"Obi," a particularly positive samba, features piano and flute solos separately. It is when these two players join together that the song finally blasts off, prematurely fading away in conclusion, just when the free falling flute and punishing piano were gleefully losing control.
"Canto da Lyra (Song of the Lyre)" finds the band catching a serious groove, maintaining the funky feel and unloading the album's catchiest moments.
Unnecessarily wandering over the seven minute mark on a couple of tracks and including orchestral arrangements on others can be distracting between moments of such an upbeat nature. Only the classical material feels out of place in an otherwise brilliant piece of discovery for jazz explorers.
Jogral, A Ilha (The Island), Alibi, Serrado, Liberdade (Liberty), Luz (Light), Nobreza (Nobility), Obi, Canto da Lyra (Song of the Lyre), Capim, Faltando Um Pedaco (Missing a Piece).
Lori Bell: C flute, alto flute; Tamir Hendelman: piano; David Enos: upright bass, electric bass; Enzo Todesco: drums; Anna Gazzolla: percussion, vocal (10); Angelo Metz: guitar (11).
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