CD review

Eddie Daniels – “Night Kisses: a Tribute to Ivan Lins”

Eddie Daniels – Night Kisses: a Tribute to Ivan Lins
(Resonance RCD-1031. CD Review by Peter Jones)

Ever since the first wave of Jobim and Gilberto mania broke, the world has gratefully bathed in the inexhaustible flow of melody that emanates from Brazil. Ivan Lins is one of the Brazilian composers to have made a deep impression on the jazz world, along with Milton Nascimento, Edu Lobo, Dori Caymmi and Egberto Gismonti, (to whom Daniels recorded a tribute in 2018). Mark Murphy devoted an entire album (1986’s Night Mood) to the songs of Lins, and it’s easy to see why the Brazilian’s often melancholy compositions appealed to Murphy. The songs here are all from a relatively short but turbulent period – 1977 to 1983 – during which Brazil chafed under a brutal American-backed military dictatorship.

As the title suggests, this new album is a labour of love headed up by veteran clarinettist, flautist and saxophonist Eddie Daniels, whose pure, liquid tone cascades through every track. It should be said that lovers of cutting edge jazz are not the target audience for Night Kisses: there’s no dissonance, no tension – it’s all melody, sweetened yet further by the Harlem Quartet string ensemble, who not only provide a soothing pad for Daniels and the rhythm section, but also sometimes offer a pseudo-classical introduction to the arrangements, as on A Noite. Piano duties are shared between Josh Nelson, Kuno Schmid, Dave Grusin and Bob James, each of whom has also arranged at least two of the tunes. Kevin Axt is the bass player, and Mauricio Zottarelli is on drums.

Personal favourites here include the opener A Voz Do Povo (The People’s Voice), which alternates between bossa and swing, and features great soloing from Daniels on flute and Nelson on piano. Of course, in any collection there will be absences: surprisingly there’s no sign here of Love Dance or Começar de Novo – better known as The Island – and it would have been nice to hear a Daniels version of Antes Que Seja Tarde (Before We Lose Tomorrow). But we do get Velas Içadas (Hoisted Sails) and Lembra.

Curiously, the comprehensive and detailed sleeve notes, written by Daniels, Lins and label boss George Klabin, make much of Vitor Martins’ lyrics to the original compositions, and the danger he and Lins faced in writing songs which were seen at the time as subversive. “We used to have censors following us all the time and cutting our lyrics,” writes Lins. The two were forced to use a lot of metaphor to avoid expressing themselves too openly. “One trick was, write more lyric than you need because the censor needed to cut something. If they cut, they were happy.” The booklet even devotes many pages to the English translations of Martins’ lyrics. But although the songs were written to be sung, the album itself is entirely instrumental, and combined with its super-smooth arrangements, it’s all a little too rich and sugary, and rather lacking in the emotional punch that the human voice can provide.

Peter Jones’ new book This is Bop: Jon Hendricks and the Art of Vocal Jazz will be published on 5 November 2020

LINKS: Eddie Daniels Interview
Ivan Lins at Ronnie Scott’s

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