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Cosmopaulista Album Review - London Jazz News (UK)

Review by Jon Turney

Here’s a refreshing Brazilian cocktail, newly mixed by drummer Mario Gaiotto for his first recording as leader. There are jazz portraits of New York aplenty, but this record is inspired by Gaiotto’s native Sao Paulo, with its stew of different cultures, and by what the quality of his sidemen indicates is a flourishing jazz scene.

Pianist Daniel Grajew and bassist Sidiel Viera make up a world class trio who respond to Gaiotto’s writing with rhythmic fluency and solo brio. His pieces range gleefully over styles originating in different parts of Brazil’s vast landmass – Choro and Maxixe and others less well-known. As titles like the opener, Going to Maghreb, and Armenian Heavy Metal indicate, he also samplesother musical currents that swirl around Sao Paulo.

The rhythms may be intricate, but the music always flows. There are some expected Brazilian inflections – Enquanto Você Dormia (perhaps referring to the movie While you were sleeping, although there is a TV series with the same title in Portuguese) might be an undiscovered song by Jobim. But less familiar dance forms underlie other tracks which also show the leader’s happy knack of writing lines that are new but sound as if they are songs you may already know.

Gaiotto is superb throughout, always strongly present but enhancing his brilliant trio cohorts’ playing, never overwhelming them.

The arrangements do occasionally fall into the temptation which seems to grip everyone nowadays to float a drum solo over an ostinato figure from the band, which produces the usual slightly constipated effect, but it passes swiftly.That’s a tiny flaw in a session that sweeps along from one buoyant moment to the next.

There are plenty of players outside the country inspired by Brazilian music, but it’s rewarding here to go back to the source and hear new work from musicians who imbibed these sounds as they grew up. If there is a national character on display, it is sunny, upbeat, full of the spirit of dance. One end of a piano trio spectrum, in other words, that perhaps sees the cool, ECM-filtered Nordic minimalism of a Tord Gustavsen at the other. That can yield a different kind of uplift, but you are in the mood for music that is less prayerful, more insistently positive, head for Brazil.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. Twitter: @jonwturney


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