John Patitucci – Irmãos De Fé
(Newvelle Records. LP review by Geoff Winston)
The first of the Newvelle Records second series of subscription-only, vinyl releases, Irmãos De Fé, is a beautifully crafted labour of love, a paean to the riches of the music of Brazil led by master of the six-string bass, John Patitucci, in the company of guitarist Yotam Silberstein and percussionist Rogério Boccato, each of whom is a formidable authority on Brazil’s musical traditions.
This is Patitucci’s second Brazilian project. His earlier album, Mistura Fina, was recorded twenty years ago with Brazilian musicians, composers and singers, whereas the new album is purely instrumental. His love of the genre goes back to a teenage encounter with Airto Moreira on a Chick Corea album, and when he moved to LA in 1981 he spent time under the tutelage of the great drummer.
On the new album they bring considerably more than mere respect to their selection of songs and their authors – it is more like a lightly worn religious devotion! In a spirit expressed with great sensitivity the trio weave musical conversations that possess a transcendent quality, down not only to their combined knowledge and deep understanding of the genre, but to the intuitive flair they apply as they explore and share the melodies, harmonies, rhythms and the embedded cultural grain of the songs.
The trio’s expressive mode bridges the area where jazz meets the intense musical and poetic traditions of Brazil with something of the approach that Chico Hamilton pioneered in his ’50s and ’60s small groups, combining absolute precision with a delicacy of tone, recruiting classical cellists Fred Katz and Nate Gershman along with guitarists Jim Hall and Howard Roberts to refresh the language of jazz.
The bright, synchronised chases of Desvairada make a well-chosen foil to the poignancy of Jobim’s Olha Maria (with lyrics reproduced on the sleeve) where Patitucci adds a deeply melancholy turn with resonant, bowed bass. Silberstein, meanwhile, in the upbeat Samba do Grande Amor takes a leaf out of the Hall approach with chordal play and tightly articulated melodic passages, underpinned by Boccato’s light, percussive invention.
Chico Buarque’s As Vitrines is positioned as a thoughtful, languid prelude to the pacey Nilopolitana where Patitucci puts down a relaxed, lilting bounce to set up the song’s optimistic tenor, and sees a bluesy improvisation from Silberstein with Boccato asserting increasing rhythmic authority to its backbone.
In a nice complement to the opening title track, Nascimento’s Irmãos De Fé, which has something of the atmosphere of milder ECM moments, the tristesse of Sinhá is beautifully teased out in a soft bass and guitar dialogue with Boccato using the lowest of low key hand beats in the background, allowing an incremental echo on the stringed instruments to blossom for a perfect endnote.
As with their first series, Newvelle have worked as perfectionists, not only to achieve a very special recording of the highest quality with a great pressing on clear vinyl, but also on their uniquely oversized record package with gorgeous photos from the archives of Tendance Floue.