Joao Donato e su trio ‘Sambou Sambou’ (El/Red Cherry) 4/5

Joao Donato e su trioThis pairing of albums that date from 1962 with bonus tracks from the early-mid 1950s is the ideal way to investigate the early career of Brazilian pianist Joao Donato who is, perhaps, better known to readers for his 1970s musings on electric piano. The first album after which the CD title is taken is a delicious slice of Brazilian samba-jazz originally on Pacific Jazz and with a host of uptempo treats. Of these ”Tim-Dom-Dom’ is the crème of the crop and would grace and Brazilian compilation with distinction. A sophisticated bossa in ‘Pra que chorar’ offers Garneresque charms while a dance-floor winner of a tune is the title track which features the catchiest of hooks and some lovely rim drum work as only a master Brazilian drummer can muster. For a left-field track, ‘Naquela base’ is an absolute gem and underlines just what a fine composer Donato is while another pacy number ‘Olhou pra mim’ should not be overlooked. The second album, ‘Bossa Nova Carnaval’, is headed by vibist Dave Pike and finds Donato in a secondary supportive role alongside guitarist Kenny Burrell and trumpeter Clark Terry. While not as compelling as the first album, the gentler bossa-influenced hues grow with each listen and ‘Sausalito’ is a shuffler of a number. As a useful bonus, ‘Mambinho’ is an early example of Donato’s craft from the 1950s and features his conjunto that includes percussion, flute and trombone. Once again impeccable value for money at just under eighty minutes and informative sleeve notes. Tim Stenhouse