Thursday, May 3, 2012

CD Review:Debut Album by Anne Sajdera, “Azul”

Anne Sajdera_Azul


The jazz and Brazilian music denizen of the San Francisco Bay Area will be more than familiar with Pianist/composer Anne Sajdera who has long been an invaluable part of that music scene -- as leader of her own band Pelo Mar and member of ensembles such as Rio Thing and the award-winning Bat Makumba. This is her much-anticipated debut Azul, which was released April 17 by her label, Bijuri Records. This is a chance for her longtime fans, and new listeners to hear her in the spotlight, to witness her exquisite touch, rhythmic acuity, and melodic resourcefulness.

On Azul, she plays with  Gary Brown on bass and drummer Paul van Wageningen, with percussion added on most tracks by Airto Moreira or Michael Spiro, with drummer Phil Thompson taking over for van Wageningen on two selections. The selection of tunes are both her original compositions and Brazilian and jazz standards, and wrote the beautiful arrangements which are an extra treat, here. Anne Sajdera

In addition to Sajdera's sophisticated, lyrical originals (“Rashid”, The title track, “Sambinha”,Time Passes” and “Touch”), the repertoire includes compositions by Egberto Gismonti ("Frevo"), Chico Pinheiro ("Tema em 3"), Ivan Lins ("Love Dance"), and Wayne Shorter ("Ana Maria"), as well as a dramatically reharmonized version of "I Should Care."

The feeling throughout the album is interesting. There are songs that feel melancholy, others are playful, yet others just straight ahead beautiful arrangements for a wonderfully recruited quartet. The flow, and the emotion it evokes, is natural. This isn’t your usual party-on-the-beach Brazilian music. It is more for cocktails and watching the sunset. This isn’t the usual offering of bossa nova and sambas, it draws more from the classical Brazilian composers and it, makes for a startling romantic mood. There’s something else, though. I listened the first couple of times through without reading the press kit, and I detected a nuance you wouldn’t expect in Brazilian compositions, necessarily. It wasn’t unwelcome, I wanted to offer it a seat and buy it a drink, but it was a feeling of the middle east, or Arabic, just different. Then I read the press kit and found Sajdera had also developed an interest in classical Hindustani music, sparked by a two-month stay in India in 1999. She has since continued to cultivate this facet of her musical vision through study with India's foremost violinist and vocalist, Kala Ramnath. That influence sneaks in through the backdoor, and next time it needs to be given a free ticket. It made for a tasty enhancement.

  Next time you are in the bay area, check her schedule. it’s a wonderful experience listening to her precise execution and wonderful technique.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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