Here's a recipe for success. Take three talented musicians from Brazil who are all now living in New York, add a collection of Latin tunes – both traditional and original – and then give the threesome a perfectly descriptive name like The Brazilian Trio. The result is Forests, a new album on the Zoho label.
The members of the trio are all talented, veteran musicians with impressive backgrounds. Pianist Helio Alves, drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, and bassist Nilson Matta have all paid their dues and then some, and combining themselves into the Brazilian Trio was an inspiration. It turns them into a perfectly balanced group, one in which the members equally share the spotlight and also share a determination to keep Brazilian jazz alive and well.
The mix of ten tracks is equally divided between Latin standards and originals, with Matta and Alves each contributing two compositions and Da Fonseca the other, "Flying Over Rio," a very nice and softly smooth piece that allows him to show some of his percussive talents. Of the other originals, I think I was most fond of Matta's title tune, "Forests," a driving, expressive piece, and Alves' "Ubatuba," which features some nice keyboard work by the songwriter.
The traditional Latin jazz songs on the album included what was probably my favorite here, Nascimento's "Vera Cruz," which is offered in a lively and irresistible performance from all three performers. I also enjoyed "Amor," an Ivan Lins composition that the group performs with obvious feeling, and the name of the song expresses their sentiments about Brazilian jazz.
A nice effort from the Brazilian Trio — three Latin jazz pros performing the music they love and doing their part to help protect its legacy.