Nanny Assis: Rovanio

US-based Brazilian singer takes a fresh view of the bossa with help from Randy Brecker, Fred Hersch, Ron Carter and others


When this album arrived, unknown, I gave it a sideways glance. No worries though, it appears that the word Nanny in Brazil has nothing to do with ageing grannies or rich people’s private nurses. Not that either need be exempt from playing good jazz, of course.

Nanny Assis is a guitarist, percussionist and vocalist who confines himself on this release to singing and playing drums and various percussion instruments. It is light, free-flowing Brazilian jazz mixed with various bossa-nova flavours.

On all but one track the bassist is Ron Carter, who has played with Assis before in NYC and who makes a considerable contribution to the success of the album. His flexible bass-lines keep the lightweight rhythm flowing as the soloists weave around the beat. Assis himself plays an assortment of percussive instruments to keep the low- key music moving gracefully forward rather than charging along.

On No Agora Randy Brecker has a warm, lyrical flugelhorn solo, set against Chico Pinheiro’s thin but melodically flowing guitar lines. Manhã De Carnaval is a highpoint melodically and again for the lightweight gently flowing rhythm. Carter and Pinheiro both take tasty solos. Proponho has pianist Fred Hersch and vocalist Janis Siegel. Melodically a good selection, it has Assis and Siegal sharing vocal duties and a fine improvised piano contribution from Hersch.

The music here is a new take on an old form, the bossa nova, with its soft and gently swaying rhythms and some fine guitar solos by Pinheiro. It’s perhaps best enjoyed as a wind down from a hectic day. More from Brecker and Hersch might have given it more bite overall. The two tracks that begin this recital are well constructed by the combo but are not helped by the heavy 22-piece string orchestra.

No Agora; Nenhum; Manhã De Carnaval; Amor Omisso; Human Kind; Back To Bahia; Proponho; The Northern Sea; Insensatez; Intimate Acquaintances (49.06)
Assis (pc, v); Ron Carter (b); Randy Brecker (flh); Chico Pinheiro (elg); Janis Siegel (v); Fred Hersch (p) & various musicians on each selection + St. Petersburg Studio Orchestra. NYC, date unknown.
In + Out IOR CD 77152-2