Antonio Adolfo is one of the premier pianists, composers, and arrangers to emerge from Brazil, a country rife with exceptional musical talent. A prolific recording artist, Adolfo is now releasing BruMa: Celebrating Milton Nascimento.
A multi-Latin Grammy and Grammy nominee, Antonio Adolfo is an internationally recognized Latin jazz star. He met singer and composer Milton Nascimento in 1967 at the Second International Song Festival (FIC) in Rio de Janeiro, the biggest musical contest event in Brazil, where both participated. The festival featured talented young composers who hoped to further their careers. Nascimento made it to the finals but wound up taking second place. Nevertheless, he quickly found renown as one of Brazil’s foremost singer-songwriters.
Antonio Adolfo and his Trio 3-D had the opportunity to perform with Nascimento in 1968 when both recorded with singer-songwriter Marcos Valle on his single “Viola Enluarada,” which became a big hit in Brazil. They joined forces for a two-month run of the show of the same name at the Teatro Santa Rosa, in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. However, Milton’s big popularity came after the release of his 1972 hit album, Clube da Esquina (Corner’s Club), featuring some of his colleagues who were singers, composers, and musicians from the State of Minas Gervais.
Nascimento’s reputation was firmly established internationally when he appeared on Wayne Shorter’s 1974 album Native Dancer, introducing his work to a wide audience. Since then, his songs have been recorded by Herbie Hancock, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Stan Getz, Björk, Esperanza Spalding, Quincy Jones, Pat Metheny, Paul Simon, James Taylor and many other pop and jazz artists.
After over 50 years of friendship and admiration, Antonio Adolfo has decided it was finally time to dedicate an album to Milton Nascimento. “His compositions broke traditional harmonic and rhythmic patterns, with his modalism and some odd rhythmic meters, all in a spontaneous, intuitive and natural way,” says Adolfo. “For this album, I immersed myself in the music of Milton and his partners. I have been working on this project for six months, panning its rich repertoire and adding my Brazilian jazz vocabulary. After working with more than thirty songs to choose nine, I once again concluded that Milton Nascimento is the most modern and profound composer in Brazil. It is no coincidence that so many great musicians fell in love with the music of this carioca [someone born in Rio de Janeiro] who grew up in Minas Gerais.”
The album was recorded in just five days. Adolfo was lucky to get into the studio to finish the project just before the coronavirus quarantine shut down the country. He recorded his last several albums with the same group of musicians, who join him again on BruMa: Jesse Sadoc (trumpet), Marcelo Martins (alto flute, tenor sax), Danilo Sinna (alto sax), Rafael Rocha (trombone), Claudio Spiewak (guitar), Lula Galvão and Leonardo Amuedo (electric guitar), Jorge Helder and Andre Vasconcellos (double bass), Rafael Barata (drums and percussion) and Dada Costa (percussion).
Although Adolfo admires Nascimento’s beautiful melodies and interesting harmonies, he is an artist with his own vision and own approach. He brings something new and different to each of these compositions. The album opens with “FE CEGA, FACA AMOLADA“ (feh seh-gah fah-kah ah-moh-la-da) (Blind Faith, Sharp Knife), on which he changed the harmony and form, using the quadrilha style from the Northeast region of Brazil. The tune features a fiery tenor solo by Marcelo Martins followed by an explsove drum solo by Rafael Barata (Eliane Elias, Dianne Reeves) at the end. “NADA SERA COMO ANTES” (nah-dah sera como ahn-tiss) (Nothing Will Be As It Was) is a jazz shuffle with inspired solos on alto sax by Danilo Sinna and Antonio Adolfo on piano.
There are two compositions on BruMa that first appeared on Nascimento’s 1969 album, Courage. The tracks are the ballad “OUTUBRO” (ou-too-bro) (October), which Wayne Shorter also recorded on his album Native Dancer, and “TRÊS PONTAS”, (the name of the city in Minas Gerais where Nascimento was raised), in a baião like style. Adolfo and trumpet player Jesse Sadoc, both perform inspired melodic solos on it.
“CANÇÃO DO SAL” (kahn-sohn doo sahl) (Salt Song), which is the only one in the samba style on this recording, with solos by trombonist Rafael Rocha and saxophonist Marcelo Martins, has been recorded by Stanley Turrentine on his album with the same name in 1971.
“ENCONTROS E DESPEDIDAS” (en-kohn-trous eh dess-peh-dee-dass) (Encounters and Farewells), in the guarânia style, is about people coming and going from train stations, which are essential places in small towns in Brazil. Here, the orchestration’s sweet timbre is due to the addition of alto flute instead of tenor sax. “CAIS” (kah-eez) (Harbor) is a ballad in a cool bossa style featuring a muted trumpet solo by Jesse Sadoc. “CAXANGA” (kah-shang-gah) is in the ijexá style (from the Northeastern State of Bahia), and uses Afro-Brazilian rhythms, featuring lovely solos by alto saxophonist Danilo Sinna and guitarist Lula Galvão. “TRISTESSE” (trees- teh-seh) (Sadness) is a waltz featuring a velvet and full-bodied orchestral timbre and a beautiful guitar solo by Leo Amuedo.
The title BruMa is a double-entendre. The word “bruma” means “mist” in Portuguese, but it also refers to two environmental disasters that struck part of the state of Minas Gerais in the last decade. BruMa is a portmanteau word that combines the first syllables of Brumadinho and Mariana, two cities that suffered similar tragedies. In 2015 (Mariana) and 2019 (Brumadinho), earthen dams collapsed and let forth floods of muddy waste materials that devastated the towns, killing hundreds of people and rendering the rivers downstream toxic and lifeless for years to come. Adolfo comments, “Milton and many Brazilians are part of a group effort to ensure that the damage to the territory of Minas Gerais is not forgotten.”
With his lush, soulful arrangements, Antonio Adolfo has taken Milton Nascimento’s music and made it truly his own. BruMa: Celebrating Milton Nascimento is more than an homage to the famous composer. It is a beautiful, artistic statement from a prolific and formidable composer/arranger and a renowned keyboardist in his own right.