Antonio Adolfo ‘Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica’ CD (AAM Music) 4/5

Antonio Adolfo is a new name to me, although my colleagues here at UK Vibe have reviewed several of his albums in these columns over the past few years, so clearly not a new name on the jazz scene. Throughout a 40 year career, he has been busy as a pianist, composer and arranger. His home is in Rio de Janeiro and one of his better-known teachers was none other than Eumir Deodato. During his career to date, Adolfo has worked with such major artists as Flora Purim, Elis Regina and Milton Nascimento. He has more than 25 albums to his credit as leader, artfully combining the best of the Brazilian rhythmic style with a jazz sensibility. Until now, small groups have been Adolfo’s preferred method of working which showcase his music and his solo abilities. However, he has long-held a dream to record an album with a larger ensemble. This album is the realization of that dream.

The result is a new partnership with Orquestra Atlantica, a Brazilian jazz orchestra founded in 2012. Together they perform nine of Adolfo’s compositions plus the Miles Davis classic, ‘Milestones’. The result is an exciting mixture of big band sounds and Samba, Bossa Nova, Baião, Frevo, and the Afoxê to create memorable and infectious music.

The album opens in explosive fashion with ‘Partido Samba-Funk’ – a heady mix of Samba and Brazilian funk. Colourful percussion and powerful horn riffs just add to the excitement of the piece. This is followed with the strong forward motion of the melodic, ‘Pentatonica’, which also features some fine vocal work.
‘Atlantica’ was especially written for this band and is a warm medium-tempo ballad. The concise bass, flute and piano solos are the icing on this musical delicacy. We are on familiar territory with ‘Milestones’ where bebop meets frevo in an exhilarating exchange. The ensemble work by the horns is a highlight of the piece as is the accordion solo. ‘Saudade’ alternates between joyousness and melancholia with flugelhorn featured, seeming highly appropriate. The gentle form of ‘Delicada Jazz Waltz’ follows and as the title suggests, is a delicate melody featuring Adolpho and more from the accordion.

The album concludes with what is apparently Adolpho’s most popular tune, ‘Sa Marina’. This song dates back to 1967 and was released internationally as ‘Pretty World’ with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and has been recorded by more than 200 artists. This is a fine way in which to conclude an album. If you like the music of the big bands, Brazilian music or jazz you are sure to find something to interest you here. This is truly a life-affirming album and would make ideal listening on those long winter evenings to come.

Alan Musson