Antonio Adolfo releases ‘Octet And Originals’

Adolfo is a pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader. He has released more than 25 albums as a leader, including a few with his daughter, vocalist Carol Saboya. He has been nominated for several Latin Jazz Grammy Awards, including Rio, Choro, Jazz (2014), his solo outing O Piano de Antonio Adolfo (also 2014), Tema (2015), which featured all original music, Tropical Infinito (2016), BruMa: Celebrating Milton Nascimento (2020) and Hybrido – From Rio to Wayne Shorter, which was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2017 and a Grammy in 2018.

A few of the tunes on Octet And Originals were originally conceived with lyrics; however, Adolfo rearranged them as instrumentals for this album. His arrangements touch on a panoply of Brazilian musical styles, including samba, baiao, bossa, partido alto, quadrilha, toada, calango, maracatu and more. Although rooted in Brazilian music, Adolfo’s re-harmonizations transform his compositions into jazz.

‘Heart of Brazil’ is a tribute to the Amazon rainforest, which is suffering from severe deforestation due to uncurbed expansion of ranching and unsustainable farming practices. It was written in a style called partido alto, a type of samba. ‘Boogie Baião’ combines American boogie with a modal style from Northeastern Brazil called baião. ‘Emaú’ is a word invented by Adolfo to capture the sonic feel of the song. Based on the quadrilha, it is a style of collective folk dance that is very popular in Brazil. The quadrilha rhythm is characterized by the accent on the upbeat, which Adolfo captures on the drums and bass in the intro.

‘Cascavel’ features a mix of styles, maracatu, calango, sambão. Adolfo originally recorded it in 1979. ‘Pretty World’ was an international hit recorded by Stevie Wonder, Herb Alpert, Earl Klugh, and others. ‘Teletema’, a romantic jazz waltz, the Adolfo composed tune was a hit in Brazil in the 1970s. ‘Feito Em Casa’ (‘homemade’) is the title of Adolfo’s 1977 album. He recorded the tune in Brazil after returning from several months in Europe, where he had the opportunity to study with Nadia Boulanger, one of the most influential teachers of musical composition of the 20th century. The composition brings together two styles, baião and samba, with a groovy final section.

As the title implies, ‘Minor Chord’ is composed of minor chords with roots that change throughout the song, creating a great vehicle for improvisation. The introduction features a beat that used to be called the New Bossa style. The title ‘Zabumbaia’ is a combination of zabumba, which is the typical percussion instrument found in the music of the Brazilian northeastern countryside, and baia, which is an abbreviation of baião, the predominant musical style in the Northeast of Brazil. A toada is a romantic and slower-paced song derived from the Baião region. Adolfo was inspired to write ‘Modern Toada’ in the 1960s after listening to Bill Evans, one of Adolfo’s heroes.

Influenced by bebop, soul and West Coast jazz yet firmly rooted in the rhythmic, danceable styles of Brazil, Adolfo’s music has a polished opulence that is uniquely his own. The music on Octet And Originals is romantic, swinging, and toe-tapping with frequent unexpected turns that consistently keep the music fresh. I think the key phrase from those two sentences is “polished opulence”: when I first listened through the album I thought it was a little safe and lacking in energy but on reflection I recognized that I was listening to well written tunes played with finesse.

Musicians: Antonio Adolfo – piano; Jesse Sadoc – trumpet & flugelhorn; Danilo Sinna – alto sax; Marcelo Martins – tenor sax & flute; Rafael Rocha – trombone; Jorge Helder – double bass; Rafael Barata – drums & percussion; Ricardo Silveira – guitar.

Tracklist: 1. Heart of Brazil. 2. Boogie Baião. 3. Emaú. 4. Cascavel. 5. Pretty World. 6. Teletema. 7. Feito Em Casa. 8. Minor Chord. 9. Zabumbaia. 10. Modern Toada.

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