Chora Baiao, by Latin Jazz Corner

Artistic voices don’t just appear out of nowhere; even the most original and innovative musicians were influenced by someone. With such a vibrant emphasis upon creativity in jazz, we tend to forget this fact when discussing established artists. Connecting influences to an artist is much easier when they are near the beginning of their careers. At that point, they’re likely to more blatantly reflect the impact of their role models within their performance, clearly showing us their influences. Artists that have spent more time refining their craft don’t necessarily reveal their influences as clearly. They’ve spent ample amounts of time studying numerous important musicians and mixing different pieces of each role models musicality into something new. These artists have also gained the experience to make confident and informed artistic choices that guide their music in new directions. Their influences still sit deeply inside their musicality, it’s just not as clearly apparent. Pianist Antonio Adolfo has spent a lifetime refining his craft, but takes the opportunity to reflect upon two important influences in Brazilian music, Guinga and Chico Buarque, on the wonderfully conceived Chora Baião.

Focusing Upon Music From Guinga
Adolfo focuses a number of performances on the repertoire of Guinga, a Brazilian composer with a significant body of work. Drummer Rafael Barata and percussionist Marcos Suzano jump into a charging baião groove on “Dá O Pé, Loro," soon joined by the full band with a tense vamp that leads a memorable melody. Adolfo references the melody with clever melodic and phrasing variations that lend a bluesy jazz edge to his improvisation. Guitarist Leo Amuedo flies into a fluid solo that builds in dynamic through flurries of rhythmic intensity. An understated series of arpeggios from Adolfo leads the full rhythm section into “Nó Na Garganta," where they wrap the melody in a flowing samba. Barata’s brush work grounds the piece with a solid sense of swing and light texture, allowing both Adolfo and Amuedo to build gorgeous statements. The two musicians trade ideas over extended sections, creating strong melodies that play upon the rich depth of the harmony. Suzano delivers an impressive up-tempo pandiero performance on “Di Menor," before the band jumps into a racing melody. Adolfo and Amuedo deftly wrap their instruments around some virtuosic lines, playing the complex melody with a fiery intensity. Both musicians take fantastic solos that bring the same type of energy into an improvisational context that highlights the song’s lively spirit. The rhythm section plays with a spacious approach behind the melody on “Catavento E Girassol," while Adolfo and Amuedo sensitively work their way through the introspective line. Things start to pick up as Adolfo attacks his improvisation with a lyrical grace and assertive rhythm, making a strong statement. Amuedo follows Adolfo’s lead with a quick but impressive solo, flying over the rhythm section with defined dexterity. Adolfo and his group provide a wonderful picture of Guinga on these performances, highlighting the composer’s relationship to both Brazilian styles and jazz.

Placing A Distinctive Stamp Upon Music From Chico Buarque
The group uses other tracks to place their distinctive stamp upon another important Brazilian composer, Chico Buarque. A chordal vamp guides the group towards a beautifully scatted melody from vocalist Carol Saboya on “A Ostra E O Vento." The pianist approaches the waltz with a gentle respect, revisiting pieces of the melody with subtle variations before handing the spotlight to Amuedo. The rhythm section pushes forward with a stronger pulse behind the guitarist, who compliments the intensity with virtuosic flights of notes and a focused melodic direction. Adolfo and Amuedo freely work their way through a beautifully understated introduction on “Gota D’Água" before the group drops into a bossa nova for Adolfo’s luscious melodic reading. Applying the same sensitivity and insight, Adolfo walks into his improvisation with an attention grabbing sense of thought and feeling behind each note. The rhythm section fades into the background as bassist Jorge Helder takes a wonderfully lyrical improvisation captures the gentle feel of the song and melodic beauty. There’s a chilling grace to Adolfo’s free reading of the melody on “Morro Dois Irmãnaos" that captures the essence of his take on Buarque. As the pianist moves into his improvisation, he creates more movement, but never looses sight of the song’s essence, always taking time to choose notes carefully. The rhythm section responds gorgeously to Adolfo’s every move, building with him and giving his plenty of space to interpret liberally. There’s an interesting intersection of ideas on “Você, Você" as the group interprets a tune made in collaboration between Buarque and Guinga. The rhythm section provides a light groove behind Saboya, whose breathy vocals add a rich mystery and beauty to the performance. Adolfo and Amuedo both take turns improvising on this piece, musically commenting upon the tune’s moving feel. The group approaches Buarque’s work with a deep respect and creative vibrancy, showing the composer’s rich influence upon their playing.

Showing Influence Through Original Compositions
In a fitting tribute to both musicians, Adolfo includes several of his own compositions that complete the circle of influence. A strong melodic flourish fades into Barata’s strong groove on “Chora, Baião," which provides the foundation for Adolfo intense melody. The pianist rides his rhythm section’s churning groove through his improvisation, creating lines full of melodic strength and rhythmic power. A tense interlude leads into Amuedo’s solo, where he increases the density of his lines into a smart and memorable statement. A series of band kicks quickly sends “Chicote" into high gear, sailing into a lively melody from Adolfo over a cooking baião. The pianist transitions into an energetic improvisation filled with rhythmic vitality, which Amuedo follows with a powerful statement of his own. The full band disappears into a wash of cymbals as Barata skillfully constructs a colorful drum solo that builds upon melody as much as it does rhythm. Adolfo makes a solid statement about his artistic personality with a dramatic and engaging solo piano piece entitled “Chorosa Blues." The pianist uses his deep knowledge of phrasing and intuitive ability to expose his inner thoughts through combinations of melody and harmony that sparkle with beauty. Adolfo’s compositions form a great bookend to the album, showing the artistic identity that he has created upon his influences.

A Stunning Vision Of Influential Musicians
Adolfo and his group deliver a loving and insightful tribute to two masters of Brazilian music on Chora Baião, interpreting the influence of their work with creativity and knowledge. The repertoire choices contain some wonderful examples of compositions from both Guinga and Buarque, and the musicians work through them with an intimate familiarity. The group does more than just play these tunes in traditional fashion though; they infuse them with a healthy dose of jazz and make them serious vehicles for improvisation. With every piece, the group displays a sensitivity to the dual roots of Brazilian music and jazz, but they also show a keen awareness to the high level of musicianship within the band. Adolfo plays with a stunning gift for melodic creation and interpretation, playing each note thoughtfully and purposefully. He fills each piece with lush layers of harmony and supports his band members with rich chordal integrity. Amuedo shines as a stellar soloist with a lyrical voice and deep harmonic knowledge. His interplay and tight melodic work with Adolfo form the backbone of the CD. Saboya’s presence adds a wonderful diversity to the recording, adding a distinctly different texture. With all of this powerful musicality in place, Adolfo has created a stunning vision of Guinga and Buarque on Chora Baião, sharing his influences and opening the door for others to discover their amazing compositions.
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