May 9, 2011
Readers of this blog know I have a soft spot for certain types of jazz – Hammond B-3, female singers, and Brazilian music in particular. Today, it’s the last of the three that has me calling your attention to an exceptional collaboration that has produced some exceptional music. Israeli guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, bassist Nilson Matta, drummer Victor Lewis and Brazilian percussionist Café, have released Mojave, a collaboration of intimate Brazilian-grounded jazz for the Motema label.
Like Charlie Byrd and Jim Hall before him, Ben-Hur plays this music in a fluid, laid-back style, but always with an intensity that brings passion without resorting to lengthy runs or unnecessary flourishes. His composition “Eretz” showcases his sense of economy , as he makes each note count, mixing nicely with Matta’s bass.
Matta, a native of Sao Paolo, is a natural choice for this setting of the music, having been a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s award winning Obrigado Brazil ensemble. There’s a nice sense of chamber music in the manner in which the musicians work through their originals, Brazilian classics, and the now ubiquitous “The Look of Love”. The group goes deep into the Brazilian catalogue, most notably including music from guitarist/composer Baden Powell ("Samba do Veloso”) and a Matta original, the tribute, "Baden". That tune is among the CD’s best, featuring a cool percussive beat over which Ben-Hur lays Metheny-like solos and Matta fills in the throbbing heart, particularly when he duels with Lewis and Café later in the song.
This is the third CD in Motema's Jazz Therapy Series (twenty percent of sales will be allocated to the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center). Let the healing begin.