Friday, August 17, 2012

Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet's Bridges Samba And Jazz

Brazilian born drummer Duduka Da Fonseca bridges the world of samba and jazz on his latest recording, Samba Jazz - Jazz Samba (Anzic Records). His quintet includes a band of well-regarded players (and bandleaders): Anat Cohen - clarinet and tenor saxophone; Helio Alves - piano; Guilherme Monteiro - guitar; and Leonardo Cioglia on bass. This release is a follow-up to the acclaimed Samba Jazz in Black and White (Zoho).

The liner notes note that despite not performing often, regular rehearsal has helped develop the ensemble’s style. Dom Salvador’s Depois Da Chuva opens with Cohen on tenor while pianist Alves also shines with the leader and Cioglia providing a solid, nuanced groove. Da Fonseca opens Sabor Carioca with some crisp playing before Cohen states Raul Mascarenhas’ theme. Monteiro taking the initial solo before Cohen plays some more robust tenor sax. Given the spotlight on Cohen’s clarinet playing, one forgets just how marvelous she is on tenor playing. They swing nicely and Monteiro, Alves and Cohen trade fours.

On Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Rancho Des Nuvens, Cohen switches to clarinet and establishes the morose spirit of the performance embellished by Alves’ light comping and the understated rhythm. It is followed by Cohen’s imaginative arrangement of Ornette Coleman’s Blues Connotation, transforming it into a straight-ahead number with fine playing by Monteiro along with Cohen’s sinewy tenor. Based on this stunning performance, one would not be surprised if Cohen’s arrangement of the Coleman classic was adopted by organ jazz combos.

Cohen’s woody clarinet lends a wistful flavor to Jimmy Rowles’ The Peacocks, while Monteiro adds melodic single note guitar. The leader’s Flying Over Rio, is a charming original with a light samba feel with Cohen’s tenor enchanting as is Alves in his solo. Cioglia also takes a solo with light embellishments from the leader with exemplary cymbal playing. Da Fonseca plays more vigorously, pushing the groove on Toninho Horta’s Dona Olimpia.

The lively Melancia closes Samba Jazz - Jazz Samba, an appealing album with strong ensemble playing on a varied set of compositions. Duduka Da Fonseca throughout keeps his group flowing and swinging whether with brushes and light cymbal work or more emphatic playing on his kit. One looks forward to more from the Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet.

I received a review copy from a publicist. Here is a video clip of the Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet performing.

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