:: These reviews were originally published
:: in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


Two for jazz lovers

Marimbanda and Cama de Gato
play with the genres.

Daniella Thompson

26 March 2003


At a time when Brazilian songwriting is undergoing a fallow period, instrumental music has been experiencing a mini revival of sorts. The latter is being well served by Perfil Musical, a small Rio label specializing mostly in new instrumental music. Two of the label’s recent releases are jazz albums that explore a variety of Brazilian rhythms. One recorded by a newish band from the northeast, the other by a veteran band from Rio, the two discs nevertheless have much in common, including repertoires composed by group members and sophistication in arrangements and execution.

Marimbanda is a quartet formed in Fortaleza, Ceará in 1999. Its multi-generation members are Luizinho Duarte (drums & percussion), Heriberto Porto (flutes), Ítalo Almeida (piano & keyboards), and Júnior Primata (bass). Their musical influences combine jazz (Zimbo Trio, Bill Evans, Chick Corea), classical music, and Brazilian popular genres such as samba, baião, frevo, choro, and bossa nova.

All the founts have been brought to bear in the group’s debut CD Marimbanda. Opening with a batucada, the title track explores the common grounds between samba and jazz, moving with ease from explosive ensemble playing to contemplative solo improvisations. “Destino” is a melodious bossa nova, while “Feita Assim” meanders from funk to fusion and cool jazz. João do Vale’s 1957 baião “Pisa na Fulô” has been modernized and made sophisticated and lyrical. “Morangotango,” an ersatz Argentine tango, presents a nice interaction between accordion and flute. The rapid progressive-jazz tune “À Procura do Conde” gives way to the meditative “Intuição” with its gorgeous bass solos. “Num Domingo de Valsa” is a waltz of the choro repertoire played in the style of Return to Forever. “Samba No. 1,” more jazz than samba, is another showcase for inventive bass improvisation.

This is a disc to be savored for its expert musicianship and the beauty of its ensemble and solo work. Listen to Marimbanda audio samples here.

Marimbanda: Marimbanda
(Perfil Musical 75026; 2001) 52:39 min.

01. Marimbanda (Adriano Giffoni)
02. Destino (Jr. Primata)
03. Feita Assim (Luizinho Duarte)
04. Pisa na Fulô (João do Vale/Ernesto Pires/Silvério Júnior)
05. Morangotango (Luizinho Duarte)
06. Luiz da Arte (Jr. Primata)
07. À Procura do Conde (Luizinho Duarte)
08. Intuição (Luizinho Duarte)
09. Num Domingo de Valsa (Luizinho Duarte)
10. Depois a Gente Vê (Luizinho Duarte)
11. Samba No. 1 (Ítalo Almeida)

Jr. Costa (bass)—tracks 4,7,9; (guitar)—track 6
Adelson Viana (accordion)—track 5
Charles Loos (electric piano)—track 6
Marcos Maia (guitar)—track 7

Cama de Gato

Cama de Gato (Cat’s Cradle), Brazil’s best-known instrumental group, has been around for more than twenty years and included among its members pianist Rique Pantoja, guitarist Romero Lubambo, and bassists Nilson Matta and Arthur Maia. Its current lineup consists of Jota Moraes (piano, keyboards, marimba, vibraphone), Mauro Senise (saxophones & flute), André Neiva (electric bass), Pascoal Meirelles (drums), and Mingo Araújo (percussion). Água de Chuva is the group’s sixth album.

Jota Moraes is the key figure in the group’s present incarnation. It is his Brazilian sound that sets the band’s tone. In Água de Chuva, Moraes contributed more than half the tunes and wrote string arrangements for three of the tracks—a first for Cama de Gato.

Although Rique Pantoja is no longer a member, Cama de Gato includes at least one of his compositions in each of the group’s discs. Here we get “Bimini,” the least Brazilian and jazziest of the tunes, with the melody carried on the saxophone, accompanied by piano, strings, and dramatic percussion. “Prateado,” a samba dedicated to the bassist of the same name, is a rich arrangement of virtuoso sax, piano, vibraphone, bass, and drums. “Homem,” an evocative tribute to harmonica player Toots Thielemans, is a soulful ballad in which strings augment the sax solos. “Seu Arthur” is a danceable tune written in honor of Arthur Maia’s father. The rapid-fire “Porque Também Não Fui” is followed by the subdued “Água de Chuva,” which mimics the sound of raindrops in various instruments. “Pontanegra,” an experiment in accelerating and slowing rhythms, gives way to the spirited frevo “Pau de Sebo,” whose name alludes to the greased pole contests seen in the Festas Juninas.

Playfulness is a Brazilian forte, and Água de Chuva delivers a full measure of it.

Cama de Gato: Água de Chuva
(Perfil Musical 75035; 2003) 46:05 min.

01. Bimini (Rique Pantoja)
02. Prateado (Jota Moraes)
03. Aruba (Pascoal Meirelles)
04. Homem (Jota Moraes)
05. “Seu” Arthur (Jota Moraes)
06. Porque Também Não Fui (André Neiva)
07. Água de Chuva (Jota Moraes)
08. Pontanegra (Pascoal Meirelles)
09. Pau de Sebo (Jota Moraes)

Rique Pantoja (piano)—track 1
Arthur Maia (electric bass & vocalese)—track 5
Alberto Continentino (basses)—tracks 1, 3, 4, 5
Strings—tracks 1, 4, 7


Copyright © 2003–2014 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.