Brazilian Trio

Brazilian Trio is a masterful amalgamation of musician/composer/arranger friends dedicated to perpetuating the artful blend of Brazilian classical music and jazz. The trio includes pianist Helio Alves and Nilson Matta, as well as drummer Duduka da Fonseca. Their debut CD Forests, their 2009 album, earned them a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album. This validated their passion and appreciation for music. The Trio moved to Motema Music in Portugal for Constelao, their eagerly anticipated second album. The 10-song album features a unique composition per player, as well as engaging renditions of fine pieces by Brazilian composers like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Tenorio Jr. This album is a divine showcase for each player. The music is rich enough to please connoisseurs and casual music fans who simply love the sounds of beautifully rendered tunes. Matta says that Brazilian music has two main characteristics: melody and rhythm. Jazz is a language that can be used to improvise. Although we think in 4/4, we can use the information we learn from jazz. The music continues to grow this way. It’s the new direction in playing Brazilian Music.” The album title was inspired from the title of the opening song “Constelacao”, composed by Alfredo Cardim. (With a lyric not heard here by Dee Dee McNeil). It had a lot in common with the Cruz constellation which is the most prominent in the sky above Brazil. This cross-shaped constellation is so symbolic that it was included in the design of Brazil’s national flag. It reflects a deep connection with spirituality. Each member of the Brazilian Trio contributed a unique composition to this project. Duduka’s piece, the charming “Isabella”, is a song he sings with pride about his daughter Isabella. She is 14. Helio’s “Bebe” piece is also for a special lady in his heart. “Bebe was a song I wrote for Ellen a while back. It was originally recorded on my first album Trios (Reservoir Records, 1998) with Al Foster on drums, and John Patitucci as bass. The original version had a more jazzy feel. It has a more Brazilian feel now in 3/4, which allowed me to take more liberties. I’m a completely different player now, and I really appreciate Nilson and Duduka’s fresh approach.” Nilson brought “LVM/Direto Ao Assunto”, a medley of two songs that he wrote at different times in his life. They fit together like a glove. “Direto Ao Assunto,” which means “straight to the point”, is a piece that I wrote around 72/73 while I was still living and working in Brazil. It’s easy to play and has a simple sound. The song ‘LVM’, which are my wife Luisa’s initials and my sons Victor, and Maico are songs I wrote in Yellow Springs, Pennsylvania, when I was just beginning with Don Pullen’s group. He demanded that each member of the group write a song. I was inspired by my surroundings to write that ballad. It is now the intro to this song. Helio (slowly pronounced aylee-oh), explains, “We kept close to the format of our last album…even recording at the same studio (Avatar, New York City). We work well together because our backgrounds and origins are similar.” Duduka says, “We began rehearsing in Nilson’s house in New Jersey. All of us had our own ideas. After many rehearsals, we all had our final repertoire. The album was recorded and produced by us. We have developed a lot of empathy and are becoming more refined. “We’re constantly evolving each time we play.” This empathy is evident in several compositions by Antonio Carlos Jobim, a legendary Brazilian composer. Although Brazilian Trio aims to highlight lesser-known treasures of national heritage, it is impossible to ignore the “Tom” Jobim. Helio comments that “Luiza” is his most beautiful melody…so stunning. It was agreed upon by the guys immediately. Jobim sang the song when he recorded it, and although his voice wasn’t the best it was still very powerful because of the melody. Nilson marvels at Jobim’s incredible songs. “Jobim amazes us every day.” The bass plays the fifth chord on ‘Quebra Pedra’ It has a complex rhythm and a catchy, yet complex melody. Each of these songs is completely different. These songs prove Tom’s ability was wide but his personality is always present.” “O Cantador” is the most well-known song in this set. It is sung by Dorival Caymmi. The song is titled “O Cantador”, and it is best known in America for the English lyrics “Like a Lover” which is sung by Sergio Mendes (from their LP “Look Around”)). The original Portuguese lyric was written by nelson Motta (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH B.T. Nilson Matta is the bassist. The Brazilian Trio’s rendition of this beautiful ballad is incredibly tender, and it sounds as light as a feather. Brazilian Trio also explores the 1964 bossa-jazz classic “Embalo”, by the unsung Brazilian pianist Tenorio Jr., as well as “Bolivia”, the album’s closing track – the surprising syncopated, South American favorite and most famous composition of American jazz legend Cedar Walton. Duduka opens the second with a powerful drum solo that leads to one of the most popular swing grooves. Constelacao is nothing less than a success for the group, which is well on its way of becoming an ambassador of music. Brazilian Trio’s story begins in Rio de Janiero in the early 1970s. Nilson Matta (born from Sao Paulo), and Duduka Da Foseca (born Rio) first met while playing soccer on a small field. Although both men respected and knew each other as players, they were too busy with their own gigs that they did not have the chance to meet up while in Rio. In1975. Duduka arrived in America in 1975 to make a living playing jazz music in New York City. Nilson, who was also a jazz musician in New York City, made the same move ten years later and began to play with Duduka in bands that included Herbie Mann, a globetrotter. Born in Sao Paulo, Helio Alves came to America to study music at Berklee College of Music. Claudio Roditi, a Brazilian trumpeter, was extremely excited about his achievements and encouraged him to make New York his home. Helio met Duduka, Nilson, and they began to play together in 1993. Brazilian Trio was officially formed informally when they began a weekly residency at a small club on the West Side. Over many years, they played together as a trio and at the service jazz royalty such as Joe Henderson. The first album of the Brazilian trio, Forests, was released in 2009. It sold a lot in Europe and earned a Grammy nomination in the U.S. The trio will continue to build on their momentum by adding the captivating music of Constelacao. Duduka says that many composers, both well-known and unknown, contributed to the richness of Bossa Nova’s movement. “In the late 50s Samba Jazz was also invented. Gentlemen such as Dom Um Romao, a Brazilian drummer/percussionist great, were also listening to Horace Silver and Art Blakey

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