Brazilian performer/composer Milton Nascimento has given the pop, jazz, contemporary and rock worlds an amazon of music that is almost impossible to comprehend in its entirety. With BruMa pianist-composer Antonio Adolfo and a cadre of outstanding Brazilian musicians he provides a highly stylized, exotic and utterly brilliant Grammy-worthy exploration of Nascimento’s works. This album is so inviting and the performances so seductive that the entire album screams to be devoured in one luscious conceptual bite.
“Fe Cega Faca, Amolada” (“Blind Faith, Sharp Knife”) gets first at-bat with a hip, call-response modal theme and develops along into a furious Marcelo Martins sax solo and a smooth Claudio Spiewak guitar ride. After a bouncer, but, nonetheless slick “Nada Sera Como Antes” (“Nothing Will Be As It Was”) the percussive nature of things evolves across the session. “Outubro,” (“October”) a lush ballad, demonstrates the team’s ability to express deep emotion and great beauty. It’s a hypnotic track that features Jesse Sadoc’s gorgeous flugelhorn solo and deep ensemble platforms.
The aforementioned concept feel of the session is delivered by Adolfo’s team of Nascimento’s deeply profound, yet approachable music, featuring memorable themes, sublime textures (“Encontros E Despedidas,” “Encounters and Farewells”), and complex, yet attainable, polyrhythms. It’s those rhythms that are displayed on the grabber, “Canção Da Sal” (“Salt Song”). “Três Pontes” offers a smoother, contemporary picture with Adolfo’s piano, Sadoc’s horn, and Helder’s bass solos tasteful over Barata’s drive. “Tristesse” (Sadness) closes out the date on a melancholic note with a superb Leo Amuedo guitar solo.
A word about Antonio Adolfo and the other soloists here: they all shine, as does the entire ensemble. Adolfo’s playing across the date is brilliant, elegant, and inspired. His arrangements are superb and they reflect the influence that jazz has had on him. “Cais” (“Harbor”), for example, is a moody, modal soundscape that reverberates a classic Gil Evans and Miles Davis vibe as does the exotically percussive Oliver Nelson-textured “Caxanga.”
BruMa is a joyous romp. It is a fitting salute and certainly one of the finest albums of 2020.