This writer was introduced to the Brazilian pianist and composer-arranger Antonio Adolfo on the album "Copa Village," a collaboration between Adolfo, his daughter-singer Carol Saboya, and the German born vibraphonist-harmonica player, Hendrik Meurkens. Adolfo, who remains a vital performer and composer, as well as educator, had brought us his latest recording "Tropical Infinito." He informs us that this is his first with horns in a number of years. Playing with him is a fine group that includes Jessé Sadoc, Trumpet and Flugelhorn; Marcelo Martins, Tenor Sax and Soprano Sax; Serginho Trombone, Trombone; Leo Amuedo, Electric Guitar; Claudio Spievak on Acoustic Guitar; Jorge Helder, Double Bass; Rafael Barata, Drums; and André Siqueira and Rafael Barata, Percussion.
Its a marvelous program of jazz numbers that were part of early sixties jazz and left a deep impression on him when he was becoming a professional musician. With his band, he approaches these from a Brazilian perspective, being samba for all but one selection. In addition to the five standards, he also has four originals included. This is a recording that strikes the listener from the opening notes of "Killer Joe" to the closing original "Luar Da Bahia," with the vivacious grooves, the sinuous horn solos and the clean, lively arrangements. Benny Golson's "Killer Joe" is a crackling good performance with focused, concise solos from Serginho, Sadoc, Martins, Amuedo before the leader himself set against the percolating rhythm and followed by a pepped up tempo transforming another Golson classic "Whisper Not," with fire from Martins, and sparkling piano although, despite the originality of this rendition, loses some of the character of the haunting, classic Lee Morgan recordings. The hot groove suits better Adolfo's own "Cascavel," with punching horns accenting the driving theme set forth by piano-bass with some boisterous playing from Serginho. A lovely tribute to Adolfo's mother "Yolanda, Yolanda," features some wonderful flugelhorn and lithe soprano sax.
A particular highlight for these ears is the performance Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments," whose tempo is pretty close to Nelson's classic with Bill Evans, Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard and Roy Haynes with a slight rhythmic accent in the backing and standout playing from Martins and Amuedo (very nice use of chords in his solo). Trumpeter Sadoc provides plenty of fire on Horace Silver's "Song For My Father," while Serginho's growls and slurs provide smoldering heat. After a delightful samba "Partido Leve," with delightful piano and flugelhorn, Barata takes a spectacular drum solo set against the ensemble. The standard "All the Things Your Are," again brings together a sonorous arrangement (or re-imagining of the harmonies) from Adolfo along with a marvelous solo followed by Amuedo's inventive serpentine single note guitar runs.
"Luar Da Bahia" ("Moon Over Bahia") has an evocative and enticing melody with lyrical playing from the leader along with Martin's soprano before Helder's marvelous bass solo, concluding a throughly splendid record of fresh, original takes on jazz classics, superb arrangements and fascinating new compositions that are superbly played.
I received my review copy from a publicist. For a sample, here is "Cascavel" from "Tropical Infinito."