Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Sergio Pereira's Nu Brasil

Have you read my article in Part-Time Audiophile yet, the one about Zoho Records? As soon as that article went live, I received a couple of releases from Zoho that should have been included since they're so fantastic; they capture the essence of this unique label that tends to focus on South American jazz musicians. This release right here, from Brazilian guitarist Sergio Pereira, doesn't quite have the complex and innovative approach of the other releases mentioned in that article. Rather, it captures that essence of Brazilian jazz, that smooth and lush feel that marks the best of that specific and popular genre.

That's not a bad thing, of course. If you've fallen in love with something obvious, say Getz/Gilberto, you'll feel right at home with Nu Brasil. That title alone suggests a new direction, but it's more of a precise summary of what makes this type of jazz so popular. (Actually, nu in Portuguese means "naked," which is a more accurate description of these ten original compositions.) We're talking, of course, about beauty and a breezy motif that implies that life in Brazil is full of celebration, love and yes, just a hint of unbridled sex appeal. "There's a certain something inherent in the music of Brazil," the liner notes explain, "that goes well beyond the notes and speaks more of the soul of a culture." That description is deliciously apt and indicates, as usual, that the folks at Zoho know and feel and understand the music they are releasing. They seem to understand this more than just about any other contemporary jazz label.

Pereira fits the typical profile of a Zoho artist. At 59, he's been playing Brazilian jazz for most of his life--even though he left Rio many years ago for the lights and the freedom of the New York City jazz scene. His guitar is soft yet intricate, full of so many flavors that instantly transport you to the Southern hemisphere. He surrounds himself with many of Brazil's most famous musicians, including a trio of vocalists (Paula Santoro, Sergio Santos and Viktoria Pilatovic) who know how to take that gentle ease of Astrud Gilberto and build on that appeal by making these songs less about the people of that country and more about the experiences you might have while living there.

Top that off with Zoho's welcome dedication to sound quality, and you have a release that redefines what it means to feel alive, and how music helps to accomplish that joy. Brazilian ensembles often create a rich and fluid sound through a large contingent of performers--it's far more intimate than a big band orchestra where every musician is adding a specific ingredient to the recipe. Pereira's compositions and arrangements lean toward the impressionistic, resulting in a sound that envelops you with warmth, vivaciousness and a miraculous gift of seduction.

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