Octet And Originals, by Stephen Smoliar – The Rehearsal Studios


Imaginative Art Supplements Adolfo’s Music

Those that have followed my work for some time may recall that I have been interested in the recordings of Brazilian jazz pianist Antonio Adolfo since my tenure with Examiner.com back in March of 2014. Much of that interest has involved his focus on past masters of the Latin genre. This was particularly evident when his Jobim Forever album was released in July of last year. However, one of the interesting things about the album was the way in which the cover design by Arisio Rabin complemented the recorded music:

courtesy of Mouthpiece Music

Somewhat in the spirit of color field painting, that design departed from the geometrical theme of the Forties and Fifties, reworking the basic approach of abstraction to text. This seemed particularly appropriate since a cover consisting only of the name “Antonio” could be taken as referring not only to the performer but also to the composer, Antônio Carlos Jobim.

As a result, I found myself pleasantly surprised that Adolfo’s latest album, Octet and Originals, should have a cover with another departure from color fields:

courtesy of Mouthpiece Music

The album itself consists entirely of Adolfo’s own compositions, while the cover draws attention to the octet ensemble providing the music. Leading from the piano, Adolfo is joined by Jesse Sadoc alternating between trumpet and flugelhorn, Danilo Sinna on alto saxophone, Marcelo Martins alternating between tenor saxophone and flute, Rafael Rocha on trombone, Jorge Helder on bass, Rafael Barata on percussion, and Ricardo Silveira on guitar. It would be fair to say that Adolfo himself alternates between leading as a soloist and joining the rhythm trio; and that alternation of reflection may, itself, reflect upon the symmetry of the cover design.

The other significant feature of the album is that each of the ten tracks presents its own unique approach to a distinctive genre of Brazilian music. One might almost call the album a Brazilian take on “pictures at an exhibition,” even if neither the music nor the cover art have anything to do with the pictures we would associate with Viktor Hartmann or with the music of Modest Mussorgsky inspired by those pictures. Still, the act of listening to this album bears at least a “family resemblance” to the “theme” of walking around in a gallery that had inspired Mussorgsky.

Nevertheless, each track of Octet and Originals presents the attentive listener with a unique perspective on Adolfo’s inventiveness, making for an engaging journey through his approaches to the rich diversity of Latin styles.