Moacir Santos - Choros & Alegria
Most American jazz fans aren't familiar with the name Moacir Santos. But they should be. The Brazilian composer/arranger's new cd "Choros & Alegria" is an exceptional followup to the double disc "Ouro Negro" of last year. If people have called (correctly if you ask me) Antonio Carlos Jobim the "George Gershwin of Brazil" than Moacir Santos could be called the Duke Ellington of Brazil. Normally when people like of Brazil and jazz, samba, bossa nova, or some other offshoot comes to mind. Santos' music is certainly informed by those styles, but they don't dominate the jazz influence. His large ensemble writing uses really unique instrumental textures, intriuging chord progressions, and quite often on this new cd. Each one of his compositions is like a little jewel, quite intricate and fascinating. They have a tendency to unveil themselves melodically in unexpected ways, much like the works of Wayne Shorter. Santos, who plays saxophone, does not play on this cd, but rather has an excelllent cast of Brazilian musicians, playing transcriptions of his original arrangements, as well as some new charts of his tunes, arranged and transcribed by Mário Adnet and Zé Nogueira, who are billed as the "presenters" of the cd, in similar fashion "Ouro Negro". Wynton Marsalis also makes a guest appearance on one track "Route 8", which could as easliy have come off of Lee Morgan's "Procrastinator" album. Star soloists aside, the arrangements and compositions are the real stars here, a unique blend of Brazilian forms, American jazz, cinematic textures (Santos studied with Henry Mancini) and clever melodies.