Octet and Originals, by Kev Rowland – House of Prog – New Zealand


Here we have the latest release from Brazilian jazz pianist, composer and bandleader Antonio Adolfo, with the word ‘Octet’ referring to the size of the band while ‘Originals’ is in the title as unlike his most recent works, this album consists only of material from Adolfo. Some of them originally had lyrics, but this album is fully instrumental, although the lyricists are credited. Adolfo is renowned for his Brazilian influences, here touching on multiple style including samba, baiao, bossa, partido alto, quadrilha, toada, calango, maracatu and more and then he combines them through his arrangements into something which is best described as Latin jazz. My youngest daughter used to be a Latin dancer, so I am used to many of these, having spent many years at lessons and competitions, and the way he brings them alive within jazz is fresh and vibrant.

Interestingly, although this is a new album and recording, some of the songs themselves go back many years. Take for instance “Pretty World”, it has been recorded by numerous other artists, including Steve Wonder where it was the opening track on ‘Stevie Wonder Live’ all the way back in 1970, while “Telemata” is another which was a hit in his home country in the Seventies. But none of these sound like old songs, as they are fresh and clean. One of the joys of this album are the arrangements as while Antonio’s delicate touch on piano is often at the heart of everything, he firmly understands the need for balance which means horns often take the melodic lead with support from the rest. The use of additional percussion as well as just drums is another important aspect which helps drive the Latin flavour, leading to an album which demands movement from this listening to it. This is not an album for a sedate evening but is meant for a party where the wine is flowing, and the dance floor is filled. Wonderfully arranged with lots of different styles, this is a thoroughly enjoyable album.