The Best-Ever Conjoining of Brazilian Music and Jazz
Native Dancer hails from the middle 1970s, that heady time when jazz musicians rushed to embrace non-Western rhythms and ideas. Most of the end products were dismal—the jazzers didn't bother to learn the musical languages they were appropriating. Listening now, some give off the nasty smell of fast-buck exploitation.
Wayne Shorter, then a member of the fusion supergroup Weather Report (see p. 849), avoided this trap. For his wondrous investigation of Brazilian music, the saxophonist and composer sought one of its most distinctive voices, singer-songwriter Milton Nascimento. Together, the two built an ensemble drawn from both worlds—several of the Brazilian musicians had worked on Nascimento's breakthrough Clube da Esquina (see p. 540), and the jazzers included pianist Herbie Hancock—and then set out to explore Nascimento's airy rhapsodies (as well as several Shorter originals) in a loose, free-floating atmosphere.
The defining idea is understatement: This is some of the most delicate, sensitive ensemble playing ever filed under jazz fusion. Even when the rhythm is a percolating Afro-Brazilian funk, the musicians provide the minimal backing necessary to establish the pulse, and then get out of the way. This throws the spotlight onto the flowing, constantly morphing conversation between Shorter and Nascimento, two distinct voices in search of the same ecstasy. Nascimento frequently sings in a childlike falsetto, and on several pieces, notably "Ponta de Areia," his stately theme inspires impish, darting counterlines from Shorter. The discourse is lively and liquid, and kissed with deferential sweetness—it's as though Shorter and Nascimento sense that these languid and often pensive tunes are precious, and so is the simpatico language they've developed to interpret them.
Released: 1974, Columbia
Key Tracks: "Ponta de Areia," "Beauty and the Beast," "Ana Maria"
Catalog Choice: Shorter: Alegria, Nascimento: Milton
Next Stop: George Duke: A Brazilian Love Affair
After That: Joni Mitchell: Shadows and Light
Book Pages: 696–697
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Ways To Wayne - May 17, 2010 at 9:18 am
#1 from Domingos Silva Neto, Miami, FL - 10/16/2008 8:46
Please check also Milton Nascimento & Jobim Trio’s Novas Bossas. This CD was released in 2008.
#2 from tom moon - 12/17/2008 12:53
I love Milton…his tunes are among the most beautiful of the post-bossa-nova era in Brazil. He re-does one of his early ones (“Cais”) on that new record, and it’s great, but I found much of the record to be overly fussy and busy, with the exception of “Cais” and the great version of Jobim’s “Chega de Saudade.”
anxious to hear what he does next.
#3 from carneham, Spain - 12/20/2008 8:43
This is one of my favorite albums of all-time. The songs are evocative and fresh, today like yesterday and tomorrow (joyful “Ponta de Areia”, delicate “Ana Maria”, ethereal “Lilia”, powerful “Beauty and the beast”, wonderful “Tarde”, emotional “From the lonely afternoons”, pretty “Miracle of the fishes”, magic “Joanna’s theme”).
The incredible voice of Milton, the magical sax of Shorter, the great piano of Hancock, the percussion of Airto…...