Saturday, July 21, 2012

CD Review: “Samba Jazz–Jazz Samba” by the Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet

Samba Jazz - jazz samba

Samba Jazz: Jazz Samba

Perhaps the best Brazilian trap drummer of his generation, Duduka Da Fonseca plays with an uncommon mix of finesse and high speed drive. Though we usually find Samba albums in the jazz bin at the record store, they are actually two disparate forms. But since Fonseca lit in  New York City in 1975 he’s  has been actively exploring the perfect marriage of the forms.  The result is pure ear candy; a rich and glorious experience. A veteran of stage and studio with the giants of both worlds from Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto to Joe Henderson and Kenny Barron. With his quintet featuring Duduka on drums, Anat Cohen on tenor sax and clarinet, Helio Alves tickling the ivories, Guilherme Monteiro on guitar,  and Leonardo Cioglia holding down the bottom end on bass  he most convincingly demonstrates that "near perfect balance" between samba and jazz.

For this date, the follow up to the group's critically acclaimed Samba Jazz In Black & White, Da Fonseca draws upon not only the instrumental prowess of its players, but the compositional abilities of the many friends he has performed with during his auspicious career. The opening "Depois Da Chuva", penned by pianist Dom Salvador, was a staple of his quartet with Dick Oatts, Dennis Irwin and Da Fonseca. "Sabor Carioca", by saxophonist Raul Mascarenhas, hails back to the early seventies group Mandengo that he and the drummer were part of. Jobim's "Rancho Das Nuvens" is a beautiful tune, Anat Cohen makes slow languorous love to one of the great maestro's more obscure gems. Cohen's soulful arrangement of jazz master Ornette Coleman's "Blues Connotation" epitomizes the spirit of samba jazz, while pianist Haroldo Mauro's "Obstinado" demonstrates the genre's wide-ranging possibilities.

duduka Da Fonseca Quintet

Duduka first heard "The Peacocks", played by its composer Jimmy Rowles at Bradley's, where NYC's jazz musicians congregated.  "Dona Olimpia" is from the songbook of Toninho Horta, part of the leader's extended family. Da Fonseca's "Flying Over Rio" is his moving tribute to the beauty of his native land. "O Guarana" comes from one his oldest friends, pianist Alfredo Cardim, whom he calls "one of Brazil's great neglected writers." Duduka first played the concluding "Melancia", by Rique Pantoja, another unsung Brazilian pianist/composer, with the famed percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, godfather to the drummer's daughter Alana.

Flowing from his heart, his head and his hands, these two rich and exciting musical forms come together as one in the music of the Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet - uniting North and South (Americas) in a manner which politicians can only dream of.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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