Finas Misturas – Album Of The Week, by Chip Boaz

In a lot of ways, a jazz musicians’s performance is all about their perspective upon the way that jazz reflects their lives. The simple choice of dedicating your artistic identity towards jazz reveals a value statement about the importance of history and the genre’s bold tradition – jazz musicians see their connection to the lineage as an important commitment. At the same time, the way that they choose to interpret the tradition connects them to a bigger vision of culture and society. While most musicians will spend some time emulating the way that standards were originally recorded, more experienced musicians will shape them using a variety of factors from their personal lives. They do more than just put a spin of a standard, they let us look at the way that the song fits into the modern world through their eyes. Different rhythmic traditions will find their way into the music, alongside harmonic changes, improvisational approaches, and more. The way that these musicians mix various influences in different proportions shows us the way that they see the world, and with the right amount of transparency, it can be a beautiful sight. Pianist Antonio Adolfo mixes jazz standards, original compositions, Brazilian rhythms, and modern improvisation technique into a wonderful blend on Finas Misturas, giving us an inspired view of the jazz tradition.

Adolfo’s Perspective Seen Through Original Compositions
The clearest perspective upon Adolfo’s vision of the jazz world comes through a collection of original compositions. Moody textures from Adolfo and Jorge Helder’s bowed bass, lead into a rhythmic collection of piano melodies that set-up Marcelo Martin’s flute melody on “Floresta Azul.” Adolfo builds a memorable statement using a caraful sense of lyrical development, until a unified band break leads into an impassioned solo from Martins, full of edgy rhythms and melodic runs. The group returns to the break, taking them back to the main theme before Adolfo and Martins engage in a playful improvised interplay which brings the song to a close on an uplifting note. Drummer Rafael Barata wraps colorful cymbal textures around Adolfo’s melody, full of retrospective phrasing and lush harmonies, on “Balada,” while Helder and acoustic guitarist Claudio Spiewak add gentle support. Adolfo takes his time developing a gorgeously expressive solo where he combines pure melodies with bluesy embellishments, pushing and pulling the rhythm towards waves of tension and release. There’s a wonderful sense of interplay between Adolfo and his bandmates that plays upon a sense of space and subtlety reminiscent of Bill Evans. Arpeggiated figures and sharp rhythmic turns lead into a driving samba from Barata and Helder, while Adolfo and electric guitarist Leo Amuedo dig into an aggressive unison melody. Adolfo attacks his improvisation with a distinctly rhythmic flair, attacking each note with an individual characteristic that leads to a lively and rollicking stream of notes. Amuedo shapes his solo with a fluid phrasing that takes interesting twists as he cleverly grabs the most interesting tones, building excitement into a hard hitting series of hits for a solo from Barata. The melody on “Tres Meninos” comes alive with a exuberant bounce, as Adolfo and Amuedo dance around a lively momentum, driving by a wave of bass, drums, and percussion. Amuedo plays upon the forward motion with an assertive solo that shows both a comfort in the rhythmic setting, but also a very jazz informed approach to the changes. A growing collection of Brazilian percussion brings Adolfo’s solo to life with an addictive drive, jumping down to a whisper as Helder applies a combination of strong technique, deep tone, and melodic knowledge to a smart improvisation. These songs give a pure sense of Adolfo’s approach to harmony, rhythm, and improvisation, letting us get a true look at his thoughts.

Looking At Jazz Standards From Wind Players
Adolfo shows us one side of his perspective upon the jazz tradition by arranging a number of songs by historically important wind players. The familiar descending chords and melody of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” comes from Adolfo and Martins until the rhythm section enters with a distinctly Brazilian groove and the two musician twist the melody into something new. As the chords stretch across longer spans, Adolfo’s approaches his improvisation with a beautiful combination of lyrical invention, rhythmic edges, and thematic development. Martins inserts a bit more fire into his solo, running quick lines through the changes, leading into a brief but assertive statement from Helder. There’s a downtempo and relaxed feel from the rhythm section as Amuedo, Adolfo, and Martins take turns interpreting the melody to Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma.” Amuedo dives into his solo with a fearless attack full of interesting note choices and creativity, followed by a bold improvisation from Martins, whose tenor sax bounces nimbly through the changes. A brief flurry from Spiewak takes the group back to the melody, which falls into an unaccompanied solo from Adolfo that builds back into a driving groove. Adolfo introduces the melody to John Coltrane’s “Naima” unaccompanied until the full band joins him, leading both Martins and Spiewak to a spacious interpretation of the melody. Martin’s stretches across a lengthy improvisation, running his flute through a number of emotions, pushing the band into an intensive texture. Adolfo grabs the momentum and drives syncopated rhythms and inventive melodies through the changes, and upon Martin’s return to the melody, Helder creatively weaves improvised lines throughout the phrases. These songs take on a vibrant and colorful new life when seen through Adolfo’s eyes, giving us a new way to look at some important voices.

A Personal View On Jazz Standards From Piano Players
Adolfo provides a personal view on a collection repertoire that he’s obviously studied closely, as he digs into several songs from well-known jazz pianists. There’s a subtle and nuanced interplay between Adolfo and Amuedo as the two musicians exchange phrases on the melody to Keith Jarrett’s “Memories Of Tomorrow.” Amuedo provides a backdrop of arpeggiated figures and rhythmic accents as Adolfo spins lush melodies through the chords, cleverly playing around the melody. Taking a distinctly different approach, Amuedo builds upon the original chord changes with tastes of unique phrases and dissonance. Adolfo establishes a contemplative mood, setting the ground for Martins to leap into the melody of Chick Corea’s “Crystal Silence,” which the band frames with tasteful colors. Barata and Helfer move into a bossa nova rhythm, setting the stage for an understated improvisation from Adolfo, who sends beautiful lines thorough the chords. A band break transitions the group into a solo from Martins, who gradually builds into a frenzied stream of notes that inspire an enthusiastic response from the rhythm section. A sense of frozen time sits behind Adolfo and Martins as they perform the melody to Bill Evans’ “Time Remembered” with a spacious calm. Adolfo draws upon the impressionistic influence of Evans which a rich statement that paints a picture in sound. Martins attacks the chord changes a bit more aggressively, pushing and pulling upon the structure until he sends the rhythm section into a climactic double time feel. There’s a distinctly personal feel to these tracks, as Adolfo uses some more intimate settings to show us his deep connection to these artists.

A Beautiful Perspective On The Jazz World
Adolfo chooses a wonderful mixture of jazz tradition, Brazilian rhythmic styles, and improvisational approaches on Finas Misturas, letting us see exactly how he views the genre. Those decisions come from his culture and surroundings, but also from years of experience performing a wide variety of jazz and Brazilian music. There’s a finesse and beauty that keeps Adolfo’s music from becoming a simple combination of jazz standards floating over Brazilian rhythms. The different elements of Adolfo’s music flow into each other seamlessly, sounding more like a unified concept than the blend of disparate elements. This means that at times the harmonies overshadow the music’s rhythmic aspect, and at other times, the Brazilian rhythms take the front seat. There’s never a feeling of sacrifice in the music though; it’s more like all the pieces are working together fluently to show us Adolfo’s vision. His band supports this concept with power and conviction, delivering a performance that overflows with empathy and musicality. Adolfo’s paying is full of lush colors and smart interplay, an approach supported by the interactive way in which the band members play the music. With every piece on Finas Misturas, Adolfo and his group give us a glimpse into their world, inspiring us with their beautiful perspective on jazz.