Those who have been following my work for the past couple years know how fond I've become of the impeccable Zoho label, in fact considering it to be as much on the cutting edge of a mutating form of classical/neoclassical works as what it also presents in South American and the all-up jazz modes. Its relentless drive for excellence has come to place it, I aver, in a position to begin to threaten the most impressive record imprint of all time: ECM (we'll leave Deutsche Grammophone to the classicalist purists; that's a whole different terrain). Even over such great venues as Naxos and similar purveyors of top shelf work, Zoho has been remarkable in its releases, one right after the other. Several ambitious recent discs of large ensembles presenting highly intelligent original opuses have left me in a state of rapture that still hasn't faded, but now, in Duduka da Fonseca Trio's New Samba Jazz Direction, comes the time when the label must show how well it understands the near-rawest form of jazz music, the trio format, and, good lord, does it ever come through!
Da Fonseca, a drummer of exquisite skills, is a giant near and far. The jazz critic or listener who does not recognize his name should not be taken seriously; doesn't matter what continent we're talking about, the gent resides in a pantheon of the planetary greats. Thus, we know that anyone he chooses as accompanist must of needs be among the best, and such is the case with pianist David Feldman and bassist Guto Wirtti. Feldman mixes Evans with Brubeck with Guaraldi and a nicely not-so-fugitive hint of Bley when in improv mode. Solito displays this in several respects. Wirtti fills in all the spaces between Feldman and the drummer and is frequently subtle, quiet, unobstrusive, painting the atmospherics but also enjoys solos here and there, just to make the background all the more evident.
And Da Fonseca? Well, start with Alana, skip to Zelao, and then explore the rest of the CD. In those first two tracks, he cuts loose in several major ways, though, like Wirtti, he can also be quite artfully recessed when the composition calls for it. Somewhat surprisingly, this set of expositions is not really a chopsfest, at least not in any traditional sense. Feldman has the central position, as he must, but he and his ivoried axe are much more carrying the melody than otherwise, in complicated form every time out however. The solos, you come to understand, are actually short but don't always seem so because of overwhelming sophistications in each song proper. This is what makes the CD so interesting, that space it occupies between a number of zones, blurring lines and melding formats yet strongly observant of tradition as it morphs forward. That 'New' in New Samba is your first hint. This ain't your grandpa's musical fare but he'd dig it anyway; chances are he's hipper then you know.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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