Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"In Session" with Brazilian Drummer Adriano Santos and his Quartet

Artist: Adriano Santos
In Session

CD: Adriano Santos “ In Session” (KingJazzAd Music)

From the opening bars of this surprising album you can tell there is something special going on, you can’t stop moving to its alluring beat. With a careful selection of  exciting compositions from some of  Brazil’s most accomplished composers, drummer and percussionist Adriano Santos has produced a stirring, masterfully executed and throughly entertaining compilation of Brazilian jazz.

Playing drums from an early age in Brazil, he took his music seriously. In 1988 he was accepted  to the prestigious Berklee School of Music and moved to Boston to attend, graduating with a BA in film scoring. Moving to New York in  1995, he attended City College for his masters, where he had ensemble lessons with the great bassist Ron Carter. He has played with a variety of artists including  Claudio Roditi, Helio Alves, Hendrik Meurkens and Bill Charlap.

On this, his debut album as a leader, he has trolled the waters of Brazilian music with compositions by Milton Nasciemento, influential drummer Airto Moreira, and composer Toninho Horta. Opening with Raul Mascaranhas’ up lifting “Sabor Carioca”, David Binney’s free flowing alto serves notice that this is a cooking session.  Binney’s playing throughout this album is a delight as he lets himself be taken over by the infectious nature of these Latin grooves. Alves is no stranger to these Afro-Cuban inspired rythmns and his piano work is superlative. Santos and Ambrosio pulsate like one beating heart as Dendê adds splashes of color with his percussive arsenal.

Native DancerNasciemento’s “ From the Lonely Afternoons” takes me back to his fine work with Wayne Shorter on “Native Dancer”, a seminal album. Dendê and Santos brilliantly re-create the humid, verdant sounds of the rain forests teeming with unseen life. Binney’s alto saxophone is not as exotic sounding as Shorter’s original soprano voice, but has its own special intensity and feeling of wanderlust. The only thing that is missing is Milton’s soaring falsetto voice.

On the pensive Horta composition “ De Ton Pra Tom” , Binney, switching to soprano, plays with a searching Shorteresque quality that is both comtemplative and joyful. Alves is particulary lyrical on his piano solo.

Airto’s  “Xibaba”  is the perfect vehicle for Santos indefatiguable rythmic drive. The driving force of his relentless drums with Ambrosio’s pulsating bass propels this tune. Some playful call and response between Binney and Alves lead to a mutli-phonic percussion based coda where Denedê and Santos weave in brilliant interplay.

On  J.T. Mierelles’ “Contemplação”,  the slow building samba tempo is introduced by the bouyant bass of Ambrosio, with deftly floating chords by Alves, followed by a simple statement of the lilting melody by Alves and Binney.  Behind Santos steady pulse, Alves builds on an increasingly interesting piano solo, that is both Latin and bluesy in its essence. This sets the stage for what maybe Binney’s most exhuberhant solo of the album. The character of Binney’s alto solo is warm, liquid and intense. He  successively builds the heat with each measure. The passion that pours from his horn has some of that rare Argentinian sensuality of Gato Barbieri at his best, incendiary. You won’t stop shaking your head and tapping your feet to this captivating song.

The album concludes with three songs by lesser known Brazilian composers. The fusion-like “Pro Zeca”  by Victor Assis Brasil, where  Chick Corea’s influence on Alves is strongly present. David Binney’s powerful saxophone play  could be a stand-in for the late great Joe Farrell’s work during his Return to Forever days.  Moacir Santos’
“Amphibious” , has a fetive Carnival sound to it. The final song is a  
Caymmi & Pinheiro composition  “Ninho da Vespa”  with some stirring piano work by Alves on top of Santos ride cymbal and stacatto trap work.

Adriano Santos “In Session” is an exceptionally listenable album even after repeat plays. A fine debut effort from this astute Brazilian drummer.

Musicians: Andriano Santos (Drums & Percussion); David Binney (Alto Saxophone); Helio Alves ( piano); David Ambrosio ( Acoustic Bass); Dendê (Percussion).

Tracks: Sabor Carioca; From The Lonely Afternoons; De Ton Pra Tom; Xibaba; Contemplacao; Pro Zeca; Amphibious; Ninho Da Vespa.

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