November • December 2018 • Issue 381. In its 44th year of publishing
A bass guitarist as well as composer, the Brazilian born Lira describes this recording as “my love letter to all of Latin America: a rhythmic fusion of samba, baião, regional folklore, tumbao, clave, partido alto, jazz influence from the north, classical fugue, and more. The strength of Latin America is in its incomparable diversity. In this project I have brought together 38 artists from 15 different countries.”
The opening lively original “5to9,” with Edmar Colon’s sax spotlighted, is full of rhythmic and musical vitality. Then there is the Spanish language rendition of “All the Things You Are,” captivatingly sung by Nella Rojas with sterling piano from Anibal Cruz and some intricate bass from the leader. Lira contributes a funky bottom to the irresistible rhythms of “Solo No Frio,” while Howard Levy’s harmonica dances on “Cumbamba” over the percolating percussion. Valentine Komissarouk wordlessly sings on the breezy “Pra Frente,” with Lira soloing on his bass guitar and Ryan Fedak taking one on vibraphone.
There is a playful rendition of Luis Otavio Almeida’s “Laurinha no Frevo,” with its sunny rhythms as well as featuring the flute of Anggie Obin and soprano sax of Livio Almeida, followed by the driving groove of “A Rã,” by João Donato and Caetano Veloso with sparkling vibes from Fedak and synthesizer from Thiago Vitório. A dreamy rendition of Jobim and de Moraes’ “Favela (O Morro Não Tem Vez)” follows with more pulsating vibes, as well as another strong electric bass solo by the leader, and piano from Alexei Tsiganov and drums from Graciliano Zambonin. The wordless singing of Komissarouk along with the melodious clarinet of Juan Ruiz and the cello of Catherine Bent add to the charms of Lira’s reflective “Still in Movement,” while the bass flute of Fernando Brandão adds to the breezy tropical flavor of “Flopida at Night,” which also has a deft piano solo by Tsiganov. Vocalists Ronaldo Andrade and Keisel Jimenez and the electric piano of Anibal Cruz are present on the animated samba Vai Lá, Vai Lá,”
The closing “Bass Fugue” displays Lira’s guitarist approach to the bass guitar along with Fernando Brandão’s flute, and Kevin Scollins’s guitar. One can not overemphasize the percussionists present here (Kan Yanabe – pandeiro, tamborim, shaker and Julio Santos – tantan, repique de mão) and elsewhere in adding rhythmic and other accents to this splendid and memorable celebration of Latin and Brazilian jazz.