Friday, September 28, 2018

Airing Today: Portrait of Bobby Sanabria Latino USA


Portrait Of: Bobby Sanabria 


Growing up as a Nuyorican kid in the Bronx, Bobby Sanabria first watched "West Side Story" in the movie theaters, on the 10th anniversary of the film's release. "I was mesmerized," said the Latin Jazz drummer and composer. Last year, "West Side Story" celebrated its 60th anniversary and to honor this milestone, Sanabria re-envisioned what Latino New York City actually sounds like. The result was his album, "West Side Story Reimagined." Maria Hinojosa talks to the drummer and composer about what the iconic musical means to him and how he paid tribute to its legacy.


Mike Freeman ZonaVibe “Venetian Blinds” CD Release Show @ LaFonda Thursday Oct 11th 8pm


Mike Freeman ZonaVibe
“Venetian Blinds”
CD Release Show
LaFonda
169 E 106th St.
New York, NY 10029
 (212) 410-7292

Featuring
Mike Freeman - Vibraphone
Coro Guido Gonzalez - Trumpet
Coro Ian Stewart - Bass
Roberto Quintero - Congas, Guiro, Shakere 
Joel Mateo - Drums, Campana


Guido Gonzalez - Trumpet, Coro
Ian Stewart - Bass
Roberto Quintero - Congas, Guiro, Shakere
Joel Mateo - Drums, Campana


Mike Freeman has been hailed as “masterful,”a “superb” vibes player, and “wildly talented.” Following Blue Tjade, his tribute to Cal Tjader, Venetian Blinds is a tip of the hat to Tito Puente and Bobby Hutcherson.

When Tito Puente rolled in his vibes during the early days of the Palladium, people would say, “Here comes Tito with those venetian blinds!”— referring to the strung-together bars of the instrument. Four of the tracks on this recording were written for Tito Puente: “Those Venetian Blinds,” “Mambo Kings,” “Night Crawlers,” and “Qué Tal Tío” (What’s Up Uncle). Another three go out to the late vibraphonist and Jazz Master Bobby Hutcherson: “Clutch the Hutch,” “Bobby Land,” and “House of Vibes.”

Mike Freeman ZonaVibe brings together a mix of original Latinjazz characterized by spirited soulful swing. Venetian Blinds is the latest in a line of clave-infused recordings Mike has produced over the past 18 years.

The all-new lineup for this outing features stalwarts of the New York Latin music scene: trumpeter Guido Gonzalez and conga master Roberto Quintero, along with up-and-coming players Ian Stewart on bass and Joel Mateo on drums.

Mike Freeman’s recordings have appeared on numerous radio charts (jazz, contemporary, World) and syndicated radio programs (WOR radio network, Jazz After Hours, David Sanborn, Music Choice, United Airlines), with international airplay throughout Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, South America, and Australia. His recordings have been both Grammy and Latin Grammy entries and have received outstanding reviews. Mike is also known by fans and audiences for his work and recordings with several acclaimed Latin groups including Ray Mantilla; Lucho Cueto’s all-star salsa group Black Sugar; and Son Boricua with Jose Mangual Jr. and the late Jimmy Sabater (one of the architects of Boogaloo).


High-talent masterful vibraphone jazz Mike Freeman ZonaVibe – VENETIAN BLINDS:  “Old soul” Latin jazz fans (like me) can’t help but remember the hip sounds of players like Tito Puente and Bobby Hutcherson… this is vibraphonist Mike’s high-talent tribute to those stalwarts… as you listen to them on his August, 2018 release, you’ll realize why I found his playing so attractive… the 4:47 “Bobby Land” has a lilting groove that will transport any “true” jazz lover straight to Nirvana… just LOVE Mike’s vibe on this tune.

Mike’s work is highly complimented by trumpeter Guido Gonzalez; conga master Roberto Quintero, along with up-and-coming players Ian Stewart on bass and Joel Mateo on drums… all you need to do is scope out the 5:15 opener, “House Of Vibes“, to become a dedicated fan of this great group of players… one thing you’ll notice right away is how “together” they are… no players “stepping” on each other & every note is full of the kind of jazz energy most groups can only aspire towards; this is one of my favorite vibe-based tunes (yet) in 2018!

If you’re looking for music you can dance to, you’re gonna’ fall in love with “Fancy Free” right away… this song definitely has the soul you’ve been seeking… it gets a slot on my iPhone player, too… perfect cruising music… Ian’s bass solo lines on this one are just stellar!

It is the longest cut on the album that won my vote for personal favorite… “What’s Up With This Moon” clocks in at 6:11, and has some wonderful trumpet from Guido, along with all the other jazz masters.

I give Mike and his fellow players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this mighty mellow jazz excursion.


Vinyl Hampdin Red: The 61st Grammy Awards


For Your Considerartion 
The 61st Grammy Awards


BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM
Vinyl Hampdin RED

BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE
Vinyl Hampdin "Pay For It"
Music by Steve Wiest
Lyrics by Steve Wiest and Lisa Dodd

SONG OF THE YEAR
Vinyl Hampdin "Billions"
Music by Steve Wiest
Lyrics by Steve Wiest and Lisa Dodd

BEST IMPROVISED JAZZ SOLO
Ray Herrmann, "Pay For It"
Vinyl Hampdin RED

BEST ARRANGEMENT WITH VOCALS
Vinyl Hampdin "Use Me"
Composed by Bill Withers
Arranged by Steve Wiest

BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM (NON-CLASSICAL)
Vinyl Hampdin RED
Phil Bulla, Engineer (recording, mixing, mastering)


Rocked Out Seriously Funky Jaw Dropping Ear Candy! is the subtitle/explanation tothe name of the spectacular group Vinyl Hampdin whose debut album Red (Armored Records) provides undeniable testimony to every word of that heavily promising description. Founded by the remarkable trombonist/composer-arranger Steve Wiest, the band is a powerhouse of highly acclaimed award-winning musicians whose wide range of credentials covers a full swath from Maynard Ferguson and Carmen McRae to DJ Logic and the current aggregation of the legendary super-group Chicago.

That last credit is quite appropriate as Steve’s concept behind this group is “What would Chicago, Blood Sweat &Tears and Tower of Power sound like if they started out today?” This remarkable recording provides an excellent answer, especially if you roll the lean and mean funkiness of Fred Wesley’s and Maceo Parker’s JBs into the mix. Steve also applies the unfailing Charles Mingus recipe of… if you want a band that sounds big; bring in musicians with big sounds. And every member of Vinyl Hampdin– from horns to rhythm to the explosive vocal dynamo Lisa Dodd – owns a very big voice, making this 4-horn, 4-rhythm ensemble thunder like a big band.

Joining Steve and Lisa in the group are Art Bouton on baritone sax and flute; Ray Herrmann on tenor sax and flute; trumpeter Frank David Greene; guitarist Ryan Davidson; Eric Gunnison on keyboards; and Gerald Stockton and Stockton Helbing on bass and drums respectively.  The musicianship is virtuosic, with Lisa’s sensational vocals as the nucleus – and always fully in place as part of the ensemble sound. Both the horn tandem and rhythm section play with a synergy of purpose that locks them together not only as individual components of the music, but also in symbiotic fashion to create a unified sound that can deliver the bounty with seismic intensity or subtle gentility, even with just a quarter-rest for the transition. The solos – exceptional, but short and no-nonsense – abstain from virtuosity for its own sake, but are there as part of the overall context to enhance the unified sound.



The outstanding repertoire of 11 songs – all flawlessly arranged by Steve – is comprised of six covers and five Wiest originals (two with lyrics by Dodd). The covers remain faithful enough to the source material of these highly popular songs, but the stunningly original arrangements certainly qualify them as re-imaginations. One possible exception to this is the opening track’s adherence to Stevie Wonder’s brilliant horn and synthesizer lines on Superstition,as even a writer as enormously talented as Wiest knows there’s no purpose in messing with perfection. But his superb arrangement using the baritone sax as the main engine of the horns, along with infectious syncopation, exciting call-and-response and Gunnison’s terrific piano solo make it totally fresh.

Bookending this as the closing track is a more liberal interpretation, with rolling horns providing extra jetpower for the rhythm section-driven exploration of Bill Withers’ classic Use Me; filled with sparkling syncopation, tantalizing suspensions, a rip-roaring wah-wah guitar solo and a smoking Afro-Cuban flavored climax. Back into the big-sound root source is Rare Earth’s I Just Want to Celebrate, with its multi-layered horns, vibrant vocal and Steve delivering a pair of energetically hollerin’ trombone solos. 

Transforming the source material into larger sound is at the core of the remaining three covers. Bonnie Raitt’s The Road’s My Middle Nameretains its country blues roots with Lisa’s blues-drenched, soulful vocal but with punchy horns replacing the harmonica obbligato of the original and a delightful two-step danced by vocal and guitar. The Statler Brothers’ Flowers on the Wall, with dueling and suspended horn lines and a starkly syncopated rhythm section with a growling bottom pushing the vocal produce a palpable sense of the ominous throughout. Linda and Paul McCartney’s captivating Wings ballad My Lovereceives a straightforward, lovely take with the rich horn arrangement providing a lustrous canvas for Lisa’s winsome vocal.

Wiest’s five originals are all perfectly complementary to the hit tunes contained on this delightful album, with Lisa offering the compelling lyrics for two of them. Pay for Itfollows its N’Orleans funeral march-like opening with an unfettered kick-ass soul-fest. Deliciously suspended horns with wailing trombone and trumpet usher in a gutty Herrmann tenor solo and riveting call-and-response between horns and vocal, spiraling into a closing tornado. Billionswith powerful, sobering lyrics is a dramatic, narrative-driven piece with staccato horns that swells to a vivid climax, downshifts into a slow boil of horns and syncopated rhythm, then soars to a second staggering climax – truly a song for our challenging times. 



Steve also wrote the intriguing lyrics for the remaining three songs, which further demonstrate Wiest’s impressive range as a composer. Gottaluvitis a hard-rocking kicker built on the sound of the title, stoked by Afro-beat style, chicken-scratch guitar. With horn/voice unison chant on the title refrain, it also features a round-robin of blazing horn solos. On Diamonds,richly lustrous horns drape, cushion and prod Lisa’s passionate vocal, setting the scene for sprawling guitar interwoven with swirling horns and closing on a group vocal chant. Essentially a four-movement suite, One Song’s opening fanfare morphs into a gentle vamp that evokes the intro to Stairway to Heaven and flows into an anthem-ish ballad buoyed by sumptuous horns and dramatic drums. Then a sinuous build to a crescendo with wailing guitar, ultimately closing out amid densely textured horns.

Blending its heavy focus upon hard-blowing, high-gear, take-no-prisoners explosiveness with subtle and entrancing imagination, Vinyl Hampdin’s Redis a marvelous debut and a portent of great things to come.


For more information, visit

Café des Chansons feat. Charlotte Haesen 'Du bout des yeux' (CHALLENGE RECORDS 2018)

Charlotte Haesen, born in Amsterdam in 1987 and raised in the French-speaking part of Belgium, studied jazz singing at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, she sang French chansons at Amsterdam’s Noordermarkt, where she was discovered by viola player Odile Torenbeek.


Odile and Charlotte decided to put together a chanson programme anchored in a string quartet ensemble. Leading arrangers then ‘arrayed’ the chansons around Charlotte’s own, particular sound. The next step was the founding of Café des Chansons: Charlotte Haesen plus four musicians from the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.

They perform gems of the repertoire, including the great French classics by artists such as Barbara, Gainsbourg and Piaf.

Jacques Brel Jacques Datin Michel Legrand Charles Trenet Miarka Laparcerie Georges Brassens Charles Aznavour Léo Ferré Philippe Sarde 
Du bout des yeux 
Café des Chansons feat. Charlotte Haesen

Tour Café des Chansons feat. Charlotte Haesen:
30 september - Herkenbosch Kasteel Daelenbroek  
5 & 7 oktober - Album Release Concert - Splendor - Amsterdam
28 oktober - Kroonconcerten - Hypolitushoef 
16 november - Cultuurkoepel - Heiloo
18 november - Theater de Stoomfabriek - Dalfsen 
13 december - ***Special christmas concert*** - Waalse Kerk - Amsterdam
© 2018 - NewArts International / Challenge Records Int.

Rachel Caswell "We’re All in The Dance" CD Release Jazz at ...


Release shows for We're All in the Dance!

Exciting reviews are coming in and the new record, We're All in the Dance, is making its way up the JazzWeek charts! Produced by Dave Stryker, it features Dave on guitar, Sara Caswell on violin, Fabian Almazan on piano and rhodes, Linda May Han Oh on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums. I'm thrilled to share this music with you and hope you will consider ordering or downloading a copy to enjoy at home.

Rachel's flawless tone, creative phrasing and interest in exploring many different genres make her a vocalist with unlimited potential. She excels in finding uncharted paths into well-known songs and has considerable chops as a scat singer.
- Ken Dryden, Hot House Jazz Magazine (Sept. 2018)

In support of the new album, I have several release events scheduled and I'm fortunate to have Sara joining me. Come check us out!

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2018
Rachel Caswell CD Release
Jazz Fables Series at Bear's Place
1316 E 3rd St
Bloomington, IN 
Sets at 5:30pm & 7pm
$9

Rachel Caswell, vocals
Sara Caswell, violin
Dave Stryker, guitar
Hannah Marks, bass
Michael W. Davis, drums

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2018
Rachel Caswell CD Release
5377 N College Ave
Indianapolis, IN
7:30pm
$15

Rachel Caswell, vocals
Sara Caswell, violin
TBA, guitar
Hannah Marks, bass
Michael W. Davis, drums

Check out my full itinerary for other events including Indy Jazz Fest Block Party 2018, the Big Band Dance Series at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, and a tribute to the classic Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley album with the Ball State Univ. Jazz Ensemble.

I hope to see everyone soon!



SHIJIN Announce NY City Live Appearances and New CD


SHIJIN 
Jacques Schwarz-Bart / Stéphane Galland / Malcolm Braff / Laurent David

Announce New York City Live Appearances
and New CD

New York City Live Appearances

Thursday, November 8th, 2018
8:15 PM
ShapeShifter Lab
18 Whitwell Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Friday, November 9th, 2018
9:00 PM
Cupping Room Cafe
359 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013
(212)925-2898

Saturday, November 10, 2018
8pm: Opening
Laurent DAVID « Naked Bass Solo » 
9pm: SHIJIN
Nublu 151
151 Avenue C, Manhattan, NY 10009

Four top European and American jazz artists
combine forces to create eight colorful and intriguing originals.


SHIJIN is a co-op group consisting of saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart, keyboardist Malcolm Braff, bassist Laurent David, and drummer Stéphane Galland. Each of the musicians has vast experience in a variety of idioms with creative jazz being the foundation. For their self-titled recording debut, the international quartet performs eight group originals that, while open to fusion and the funkier side of jazz, are beyond any simple classification and reflect their varied musical journeys.

The opening “Smells Funny” is a menacing strut that has tenorist Schwarz-Bart and bassist David playing the theme with the support of keyboardist Braff and drummer Galland. The music soon gets heated with the soloists improvising over an infectious groove. The funky “Anemoi” is concise with Schwarz-Bart taking the lead on soprano with the electronic ensemble building up the music before fading out.

The colorful “Afro Bear” lets listeners imagine a bear having some adventures in the wilderness. The episodic piece has a catchy theme and mostly focuses on the group’s distinctive ensemble sound. “New Neighborhood” features a folkish melody that is played by Schwarz-Bart at several different tempos over the stimulating rhythms. 

While a generally laidback performance, “The Bait” finds the group infusing the number with plenty of passion. “Blitzt’s Z’Zuri?” has a hot tenor solo from Schwarz-Bart and features Braff playing complex lines on his keyboards. “Discomania” is not really disco but 1970s-style fusion with Braff taking the lead. SHIJIN concludes with “The Edgewater Hotel,” a joyful original based on a rhythmic figure played by Galland.

Each of the musicians has had impressive solo careers. Jacques Schwarz-Bart was born in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Being the son of a pair of prominent writers, he seemed headed for a career as a statesman. However at 24 Schwarz-Bart began playing the saxophone, he started studying at Berklee three years later, and he has been a busy musician ever since. Along the way he has worked with Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Danilo Perez, Ari Hoenig, Meshell Ndegeocello, D’Angelo and Chucho Valdes. As a leader he formed the Gwoka Jazz Project, blended modern jazz with ritual voodoo music in The Jazz Racine Haiti project, and collaborated with pianist Omar Sosa in The Creole Spirits.


Stéphane Galland, who is from Belgium, started playing drums when he was three. After taking lessons in classical percussion, he began playing jazz when he was 11. With his group AKA MOON, he has recorded over 20 CDs and performed worldwide. Galland has explored many different cultures in collaborations with artists from Africa, India, Asia, Turkey, Europe and America and has worked with such top jazz artists as Joe Zawinul, Joe Lovano, Toots Thielemans, Philip Catherine, Mark Turner, and Robin Eubanks. His own project LOBI explores multiple ancient musical traditions in a modern and futuristic way.

Pianist and keyboardist Malcolm Braff was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, grew up in Dakar and Switzerland, and began playing piano in public when he was just six. He has led over 20 records of his own and has performed around the world, often leading his own groups.

Bassist Laurent David from Paris started out studying classical guitar before switching to the electric bass guitar when he got involved in jazz. He has worked and recorded with the jazz trio TRIAS, guitarist Ahmad Mansour, Ibrahim Maalouf, and a variety of adventurous improvising musicians, appeared at many European jazz festivals. He is the creator and artistic director of the non-profit music label Alter Nativ recently shifted his home base to New York.

The combination of Schwarz-Bart, Galland, Braff and David results in musical magic throughout the consistently intriguing, accessible and unpredictable SHIJIN.

FRANCAIS 
Shijin est une symbolique orientale représentant les gardiens des quatre points Cardinaux. À chacun correspond un animal, une saison, une couleur, un élément, une vertu. 

Ce quartet est le point de rencontre et l’alliance de quatre entités musicales fortes, chacune apportant sonexpérience, son style et son origine culturelle. 

La basse tellurique de Laurent David, le piano phoenixien de Malcolm Braff, le saxophone atmosphérique de Jacques Schwarz-Bart et la batterie niagaresque de Stéphane Galland sont les ingrédients magiques composant cette exploration musicale et spirituelle. 

L’album a été construit par couches successives : les lignes de basse et de batterie ont d’abord été créées à Paris, les claviers ont été ajoutés à Chamonix et enfin les parties de saxophone ont été inventées et enregistrées à Boston. 

Le résultat révèle un niveau de force, de cohérence et une esthétique collective qui semblent avoir été orchestrés par le destin. 

Un vrai groupe est né, dans lequel le tout est plus grand que la somme des parties. 

DEUTSCH 
„Shijin“ ist ein orientalisches Symbol, welches die Wächter der vier Himmelsrichtungen darstellt. Jeder Wächter ist auch mit einem Tier, einer Jahreszeit, einer Farbe, einem Element und mit einer Tugend verbunden. In diesem Sinne stellt das Quartett SHIJIN einen Treffpunkt und ein Bündnis von vier kraftvollen Musikerpersönlichkeiten dar, von denen jeder seine Erfahrung, seinen originellen Stil und seine individuelle Herkunft mit einbringt: Der tellurische Bass von Laurent David, das Phoenix-artige Klavierspiel von Malcolm Braff, das kosmische Saxophon von Jacques Schwarz-Bart und das Niagara-artige Trommeln von Stéphane Galland sind die magischen Zutaten dieser musikalischen und spirituellen Erforschung. 

Die Albumaufnahmen wurden durch einen schichtartigen Kompositionsprozess durchgeführt. Zuerst erfolgten die Bass- und Schlagzeugaufnahmen in Brüssel und Paris, dann fügten sie die Klavier- und Keyboard-Parts in Chamonix hinzu und zum Schluss wurde das Saxofon in Boston aufgenommen. Das Ergebnis zeigte ein Maß an Stärke, Kohärenz und eine kollektive Ästhetik, die vom Schicksal orchestriert schien. Hiermit wurde eine Band geboren, in der das Ganze größer ist als die Summe aller Teile. 

JAPANESE 
Shijin(四神)とは、四方を司り、それぞれがある動物、季節、元素、力をあらわしている東洋の守護神たちを意味する。この四人組は、四つの強力な音楽的実体の出会いであり、協同作業である。各自が自らの経験、スタイル、出自の文化を持ち寄っているのだ。ローラン・ダヴィドの大地のようなベース、マルコム・ブラフの不死鳥を思わせるピアノ・スタイル、ジャック・シュヴァルツ=バルトの宇宙的サキソフォン、そしてステファヌ・ギャランのナイアガラ的ドラミングが、この音楽的でスピリチュアルな探検の魔術的構成要素である

録音も各地でなされている。ベースとドラムが最初にブリュッセル、パリで録音され、キーボードがシャモニーで、そして最後にサックス・パートがボストンで演奏、録音されている。その成果は、まるで運命が準備したようなパワーと調和と集団的美学の水準を示している。ひとりひとりの足し算よりさらに偉大な総体となった、本物のバンドの誕生である。 

Releases October 26, 2018 


1. SMELLS FUNNY
2. ANEMOI
3. AFRO BEAR
4. NEW NEIGHBORHOOD
5. THE BAIT
6. BLITZT'S Z'ZÜRI
7. DISCOMANIA
8. THE EDGEWATER HOTEL

Wayne Powers featured guest vocalist with the Otsego Jazz Ensemble Friday, October 5th Kalamazoo, MI


Wayne Powers will be the featured guest vocalist with the Otsego Jazz Ensemble for a big band concert in Kalamazoo, MI on Friday, October 5th as special part of the monthly “Art Hop” celebration.  

1st Presbyterian Church
321 W. South St., Kalamazoo, MI
Admission:  Free

Acclaimed Actor, Comedian, Voice Over Artist, Radio Personality Returns
to his Jazz Vocalist Roots with New CD,
“If Love Were All”

Sergio Pereira “Nu Brasil” CD Release Shows NYC & Spain


Sergio Pereira “Nu Brasil”
CD Release Shows NYC & Spain

NYC
Friday, November 16th 8 pm

Sergio Pereira - acoustic guitar
Helio Alves - piano
Ariel Ramirez - bass
Oriente Lopez - flutes
Alexandre Kautz - drums
plus, special guest

Sunday, November 18th 8pm

Sergio Pereira - acoustic guitar
Helio Alves - piano
Ariel Ramirez - bass
Oriente Lopez - flutes
Mauricio Zottarelli - drums
plus, special guest

SPAIN
December 7, at 8 p.m.

January 17, 2019


Sergio Pereira-guitar,  Saxophonist Alexey Leon, Spain’s alto sax great Perico Sambeat, Cuban-born flutist and longtime New Yorker Oriente Lopez and Valencia, Spain-based trumpeter-arranger VoroGarcia. Sao Paulo-based electric guitarist Marcus Teixeira, French pianist Baptiste Bailly, Valencia-based bassist Ales Cesarini, Cuban-born bassist Ariel Ramirez, Brazilian harmonica virtuoso Gabriel Grossi and two Brazilian-born musicians now residing in New York City, pianist Helio Alves 
and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli.

Vocalists Paula Santoro, Sergio Santos and Viktorija Pilatovic lend an air of mystery and allure to the proceedings while rapper Devin Malloy adds the cherry on top of the buoyant opener, Down South.

There’s a certain something inherent in the music of Brazil that goes well beyond the notes and speaks more of the soul of a culture. Like the music of New Orleans, where the feel for an authentic second line rhythm grows out of the pace, the food, the flavor of the Crescent City, the persuasive rhythms of bossa nova and samba are ingrained in the hearts and souls of musicians from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. For guitarist-composer Sergio Pereira, that feeling is deeply imbedded in his DNA and emerges through his distinctive comping patterns. 

“I learned by growing up listening to samba rhythms and playing Brazilian percussion at a local school of samba,” says the 59-year Rio native and longtime resident of New York City. “Since I was a kid I have been always playing samba rhythm, making that ‘batucada’ rhythm with my hands and fingers at school until my teachers would tell me to ‘stopmaking that noise!’ I still do it all the time. It’s addictive.”
         
Pereira’s samba addiction comes to full fruition in spectacular fashion on his ZOHO debut release Nu Brasil,his follow-upto his acclaimed 2016 debut, Swingando.The title Nu Brasil (“nu” = “naked” in Portuguese) references the beauty of his home country where however social inequality still prevails.
 
A collection of ten thoughtful compositions, this superb set features contributions from a luxuriant crew of 18 world-class musicians including Cuban-born saxophonist Alexey Leon, Spain’s alto sax great Perico Sambeat, Cuban-born flutist and longtime New Yorker Oriente Lopezand Valencia, Spain-based trumpeter-arranger Voro Garcia. Also on board for Pereira’s sophomore release are Sao Paulo-based electric guitarist Marcus Teixeira, French pianist Baptiste Bailly, Valencia-based bassistAles Cesarini, Cuban-born bassist Ariel Ramirez, Brazilian harmonica virtuoso Gabriel Grossiand two Brazilian-born musicians now residing in New York City ispianist Helio Alvesand drummer Mauricio Zottarelli. 

Vocalists Paula Santoro, Sergio Santosand Viktorija Pilatoviclend an air of mystery and allure to the proceedings while rapper Devin Malloyadds the cherry on top of the buoyant opener, Down South. Says the composer, “I started to work on this song last summer while vacationing ‘down south’ in Puglia, Italy. Changing environment and location often provides me with great vibes for inspiration. It’s a happy samba groove with a magical soprano sax solo from Alexey. Devin’s rap is basically describing the experience of failure in pursuit of your dreams and talks about how life will continue to evolve and will pick you back up after you've fallen.” Bailly adds a cascading piano solo here while Pereira contributes an appealingly melodic, clean-toned solo on electric guitar.

East River is Pereira’s poignant reflection on the view from his Upper East Side neighborhood in Manhattan. “I frequently jog on the East Side by the East River and many times, after the jog, I just sit on a bench next to the 59thStreet Bridge looking over Roosevelt Island and Long Island City,” he explains. “It’s very peaceful there with the nice breeze from the river, the sounds of boats going by and the FDR Drive humming with vehicles.” The easy-going number opens with sparse solo piano before being joined by lush strings arranged by Garcia. Pereira plays the opening strains of the melody on his nylon string acoustic then scats simultaneously with his solo on this affecting number, which also carries a slight tinge of melancholy. As he explains, “When my older daughter, now 23, was 4 or 5 years old, we lived on Roosevelt Island.  We had an amazing time together there and I miss those moments. The strings bring out the melancholic moments I had, which I dearly miss, when my daughter was little.”

The seductive Arpoadoris an ode to the beach of that name on the south side of Rio de Janeiro where Pereira spent a lot of his youth. “This was my favorite beach, where I used to wake up really early in the morning to go surfing with friends,” he recalls. “Cool and hip crowds used to hang out there at sunset. People fell in love, hearts were broken and memories were left behind. It’s reminiscing about the time when I was 19, right before I moved to New York — some of the best moments of my life.” Singer Santoro narrates the story of love, passion, beach, summer and the sea with an enchanting delivery that combines the smooth allure of bossa nova and the freewheeling abandon of jazz in her delicious scatting passages and call-and-response exchanges with pianist Bailly near the end of the piece.

Greta is an affecting jazz waltz that Pereira wrote for his newly-born niece. “She is sweet, mellow, easy and tender just like this song,” he says. Flutist Lopez brings the mellowness, tenderness and jazziness that the song calls for while singer Sergio Santos doubles Pereira’s tender electric guitar melody with some sweet falsetto singing. Drummer Zottarelli deftly underscores the proceedings with some briskly swinging brushwork.

The energized title trackNu Brasilis fueled by Pereira’s infectious comping and showcases Lithuanian-born singer Pilatovic, who engages in some rapid-fire scat-and-trumpet exchanges with Garcia at the tag. Originally an instrumental, lyricist Paulinho Nunes brings new life to the upbeat piece while Pilatovic, singing in Portuguese with a ‘Carioca’ accent, brings a jazzy flair to this groovy samba.

Garcia arranges the strings on the lush Per Teand offers a warm, melodic flugelhorn solo on this inviting number. The tight Joao Donato-influenced samba/bossa Sambinhacomes charging right out of the gate with guitar and harmonica locked in tandem on the buoyant theme. Sao Paulo-based electric guitarist Marcus Teixeira, a former teacher of Pereira’s, contributes a Bensonesque solo over the percolating undercurrent provided by drummer Zottarelli and bassist Ramirez. Pianist Alves adds some jazzy improvising on this infectious groove while harmonica ace Grossi contributes remarkably flowing legato lines over the top. Percussionist David Gadeajoins Pereira to fuel this fiery samba groove.

The minor key Trem Do Tempocarries a tinge of melancholy on top of an undulating Ixeja rhythm. Lopez contributes a lovely flute solo while Santoro delivers the alluring Portuguese lyrics in her own inimitable style. Nunes again brings new life to the song with his thoughtful lyrics, which tell us a story about life and the passage of time: “Life is like a train/it slips through your hands/it does not stop in every station. Life is to be lived at each moment. Live it…live it…and live it.”

14 Clicks Away, a slow bossa nova fueled by Zottarelli’s brushwork and Pereira’s steady comping, features an elegant solo by pianist Alves and also showcases Sambeat in Getz-ian mode on this restful, gently grooving number. 

The album closes with the jazzy bossa nova Lascia Stare,which fluctuates between sadness and happiness and features Pereira doubling the melody with Grossi. “I always heard the more melancholic first part of the song with a harmonica, so Gabriel was my number one choice to deliver that feeling,” says Pereira.” The leader’s electric guitar solo here is typically melodic and flowing while Bailly adds sparkle with his piano solo. The title, Pereira explains, is an Italian expression which roughly translates to ‘let it go’ or ‘don’t bother yourself with it.’”

From opener to closer, Nu Brasiltakes the listener on a journey that is brimming with exhilaration and passion, soulful reflection and deep-seated feelings that speak of Pereira’s homeland. — Bill Milkowski