LP Review: Salvador Trio – Salvador Trio and Tristeza

Salvador Trio – Salvador Trio and Tristeza
(Mr Bongo MRBLP088, MRBLP089. LP review by Andrew Cartmel)

Only yesterday someone said to me, “Vinyl is dead”. (Actually it was the broadband engineer, looking at my shelves of LPs above my wireless router, which really was dead.) In fact, nothing could be further from the truth — as evidenced by the almost daily arrival of new boutique labels who are lovingly crafting reissues of lost classics in their original vinyl format.

The latest of these is the estimable Mr Bongo, a Brighton-based outfit with some incredibly groovy music in its catalogue. Painstakingly remastered from archival tapes and beautifully packaged, these reissues hit the bulls eye. And there’s plenty of fine jazz here.

Named after a slave hideaway in colonial times, Mocambo was a pioneering Brazilian record label founded in the city of Recife in the early 1950s. Ten years later it was nurturing a genuine jazz star in the form of Dom SalvadorDom Salvador (his birth name Salvador Silva Filho appears on several of the compositions) is currently featured on two Mr Bongo releases. The first of these is the self-titled Salvador Trio from 1965 with Edson Lobo on upright bass and Victor Manga on drums. If I was to say “bossa jazz” you might get visions of Stan Getz and that beach on Ipanema where that damned girl always goes walking.

But the emphasis here is much more heavily on the jazz than that would suggest. In fact, Salvador’s playing on Miscelania to my ears has a sound of Bud Powell circa Parisian Thoroughfare. Whereas on Santarem the haiku minimalism of Salvador’s piano alternates with jaunty rolling chords reminiscent of Horace Silver. The bittersweet sawing bass of Lobo is also outstanding here. A further highlight of this ’65 album is the hauntingly beautiful and lyrical Maria (another Salvador composition).

For the Tristeza LP, released a year later, Salvador had a new line up, his famed Rio 65 Trio, with Sérgio Barroso on bass and Edison Machado — regarded in some quarters as the finest Brazilian drummer of them all. Their Tristeza album has a soul jazz feel which marks it out from its predecessor and it also adds Dom Salvador’s organ to the mix. And a hard driving, propulsive electric organ it is, too. Salvador’s superb, moody playing on it alternates throughout the record with his precise, tripping, percussive piano.

This album also features the bonus of an unidentified but excellent string section. Their playing is lyrical, lingering and sensual on the beautiful Iluminando o Vazio (‘Lighting the Void’) written by Salvador and Regina Werneck, a gentle ballad on which Salvador’s piano has a caressing touch. And strings also feature on the lovely A Canção do Amor que Nasceu (‘A Love Song Was Born’) by the same writing team.

These terrific albums of Brazilian jazz were entirely new to me, but to those in the know they have long been regarded as classics and Mr Bongo has done us a solid service in bringing them back into print. The originals are much sought after collectors’ items commanding high prices, but these new editions are faithful replicas. Great care has been taken to provide high quality reproductions of the covers — I particularly like the inclusion of an ‘obi’ (Japanese for a belt or sash) — a strip of paper wrapped around the cover which provides new information without marring the original. And then of course there is the noise-free excellence of the vinyl itself.

And they are eminently affordable. Indeed, Tristeza on vinyl is currently listed on Mr Bongo’s website for a mere twelve quid, with a copy of the CD thrown in, which represents an incredible bargain.

I should mention that some early publicity suggested these records would be issued on 180 gram vinyl, but in the event they have been pressed on standard weight vinyl — and are none the worse for it. These are very good pressings, pure and clear with an excellent sound. They are well crafted and well engineered discs featuring some cracking landmark Brazilian jazz which very much deserves your attention.

And I’m delighted to report that Dom Salvador still holds down a residence at the River Café in Brooklyn, though he’s temporarily out of action thanks to the buffeting of New York by Hurricane Sandy. We wish him a swift return to the piano.

Categories: miscellaneous

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