Antonio Adolfo: Octet And Originals

Venerable Brazilian pianist and composer leads new set based in local music but influenced by soul, bebop and West Coast jazz

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Brazilian pianist and arranger Antonio Adolfo grew up in Rio de Janeiro. He was a professional musician by the age of 17 and has released more than 25 albums under his own name. His many compositions have been recorded by artists such as Sergio Mendes, Herb Alpert, Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick.

The album’s title reflects that his band is an octet and they’re playing Adolfo’s original compositions. Whilst some of the pieces have appeared on earlier Adolfo albums he’s reharmonised them for this grouping. The music is rooted in the traditional, rhythmic styles of Brazil but influenced by soul, bebop and West Coast jazz.

Adolfo expressed his concern for the endangered Amazon rainforest when he composed Heart Of Brazil. It was originally sung by Dionne Warwick. Here it’s an instrumental samba with succinct piano and adroit trombone. It’s followed by the frisky Boogie Baião, named because the tune switches from a Brazilian baião to a boogie. The track recalls the opening riff to Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman throughout the piece.

Next is the energetic Emau with an intricate sax and trumpet improvisation. It’s based on the quadrilha, the Brazilian folk dance characterised by accenting the upbeat. The highly percussive Cascavel follows with a mix of maracatu, sambao and calango styles. Then, Pretty World, covered previously by Herb Alpert and Stevie Wonder, is given a superb bossa-nova makeover. It has Adolfo leading on piano with splendid soloing from altoist Danilo Sinna and Ricardo Silveira on guitar.

A dreamy Teletema, originally composed by Adolfo for a Brazilian television series, slows the tempo right down and then a blend of baiao, samba and soul jazz follows with Feito Em Casa (meaning “homemade”). Minor Chord, a bossa nova with minor chords whose roots change throughout the number, is succeeded by Zabumbaia. Its title combines zabumba, the percussion instrument heard in the music of northeastern Brazil and baia, an abbreviation of baião, the region’s predominant musical style.

The slowly paced closer, Toada Moderna, was composed by Adolfo after listening to Bill Evans in the 60s. Alongside Adolfo in Evans mode on piano it features Jesse Sadoc, soulful on flugelhorn.

These are highly proficient, experienced musicians whose album should appeal to Adolfo’s many fans and to all those with an interest in contemporary Brazilian jazz.

Discography
Heart Of Brazil; Boogie Baiäo, Emaú; Cascavel; Pretty World; Teletema; Feito Em Casa; Minor Chord; Zabumbaia; Toada Moderna (51.48)
Adolfo (p); Jesse Sadoc (t, flh); Danilo Sinna (as); Marcelo Martins (ts, f); Rafael Rocha (tb); Ricardo Silveira (g); Jorge Helder (b); Rafael Barata (d, pc). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2022.
AAM Music 0716