Rio, Choro, Jazz…, by Mark S. Tucker – Acoustic Music

Like it or not, and you should indeed very much like it, the immaculate Zoho label is the standard bearer for South of the border musics now, and one must measure all similar efforts and output against that Olympian insitution and its jaw-dropping wares. I am—as has been seen in these pages perhaps to an "Awright awready, we get it! We get it!!" degree—a Zoho true believer, so when I tell you that, in this tribute to the legendary pianist/composer Ernesto Nazareth, Antonio Adolfo pegs the mark, even though Rio, Choro, Jazz is not issued under the Zoho imprint, I don't say that lightly. The guy not only combines Nazareth's beloved choro with Braziliana but even a distinctive echo of the Portuguese classical court musics that were so influential in the second half of the 1800s, and does so in a level of quality that's more than a little stunning.

Choro itself is a mighty blend of lundu, polka, mazurka, habanera, tango brasiliero, and other forms, and it so captivated Nazareth that the gent became not only it's leading voice but also the most prolific composer in the genre. Adolfo, an ardent fan and student of Ernesto, has in turn, in his own words, made changes "in the form, melody, harmony, and rhythm to build the atmosphere" Nazareth bequeathed. This is how players and composers bring esteemed work forward. Adolfo's well integrated sextet performs flawlessly, smoothly, energetically, with gusto, imagination, and heart, laid back while constantly on the mark.

The main voices are of course the lead man himself on piano, Marcelo Martins on flute and sax, and Claudio Spiewak on guitars, but the rhythm section is crucial, filling up every measure, every space with undulating waves of seductive sound. Adolfo has issued quite a few CDs, eight that I know of, and is a popular writer and performer but I think he's outdone himself on Rio. The recording quality itself isn't quite up to Zoho snuff, almost no label is capable of that save for MFSL and audiophile outfits, and then hyper-specialist establishments like ECM, but it's a great documentation and as good as any kindred product extent, with zero cause for complaint. I was e-conversing with a well-known political video service the other day, and she was complaining that all music nowadays is suffering, especially (as she was in Brazil at the time) Braziliana. I contradicted her and averred that, no, this period in history has more and more fine music than ever before, and Rio, Choro, Jazz and its ilk were exactly the kind of discs I had in mind.