Leo Gandelman ‘ VIP’ CD + DVD (Far Out) 3/5

Brazilian saxophonist Leo Gandelman has an impeccable training with a period at the prestigious Berklee College of Music before beginning a professional career in 1979 and thereafter going solo in 1987. Musically, he fits into the soul-jazz bag with hints of a Latin tinge in parts. As such this release will appeal to jazz fans more generally who like their jazz on the melodic side and Gandelman’s influences seem to include in his approach to the tenor the likes of Eddie Harris and Stanley Turrentine to name but two. This is typified on numbers such as as ‘Lançamento (‘Release’)’ and there are even hints of Harris’ epic ‘Cold duck time’ on ‘Camisa 7 (No. 7 Jersey’)’. Accompanied by an acoustic trio and horn section, Gandelman blends in well with the other reeds on the samba-jazz piece ‘Nego, ta sabando (‘They know’)’ and there is some lovely Latinesque piano vamping on ‘VIP VOP’ which would not be out of place on a Horace Silver album. Another composer, Wayne Shorter, is evoked on the busy opener ‘Sinal veremlho (‘Red sign’)’. The only standard is a beautiful cover of Edu Lobo’s seminal song ‘Reza (Peace’)’ which here is taken at a slower pace than on the original vocal version. One wonders why Gandelman does not devote an entire album to the composer, following on from his 2007 recording devoted to composer/pianist Radamés which earned the tenorist the best instrumental album award in Brazil. In comparison to another Brazilian reed player, Hector Costita, who recorded jazz-fusion during the early 1980s, this new recording is more straight ahead, but with a subtle Brazilian influence nonetheless. An accompanying DVD with both the leader in performance and a documentary is added to the package which all helps to enhance the listener’s understanding of the artist.  

Tim Stenhouse