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Music Reviews: Duduka Da Fonseca Trio, Jack Mouse Group, Marko Djordjevic & Sveti

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Duduka Da Fonseca Trio – New Samba Jazz Directions

1.jpgDrummer Duduka Da Fonseca’s trio follows up its 2011 album Duduka Da Fonseca Trio Plays Toninho Horta with another exploration of the confluence of the music of Brazil, the samba and the bossa nova, and jazz. It is an intersection that has been the focus of the drummer’s career for four decades. Influenced by the pioneering work of Edison Machado and The Rio 65 Trio, he began playing with his own samba trio in the ’70s. His fascination with the music continued after he moved to New York, where he eventually teamed up with Rio 65 pianist Dom Salvador and bassist Rogerio Botter Maio for the 1997 album Transition.

The Da Fonseca Trio’s current configuration with David Feldman on piano and Guto Wirtti on bass is looking to expand the genre in a way that stays true to its ethnic roots. “The result is a time/beat with a much wider and elastic feel, but without losing the essence of samba, which is in our blood,” says Da Fonseca in the liner notes.

The new album consists of seven original compositions—four by Feldman, two by the leader, and one from Wirtti—and three classics: “Sonho De Maria,” “Zelão,” and the familiar “Céo E Mar.” New Samba Directions lives up to its name. It is a convincing demonstration of the varied possibilities latent in the samba.

Jack Mouse Group - Range of MotionMI0003491365

Drummer Jack Mouse has been around playing with a top notch list of jazz artists from James Moody and Stan Kenton to Randy Brecker and Kenny Burrell. With Range of Motion, he steps out to lead a set of musicians he’s collaborated with over the years in a swinging examination of 10 of his original compositions. The debut recording is contemporary jazz played with cerebral passion.

The quintet features Scott Robinson on reeds and Art Davis on trumpet and flugelhorn. They work together seamlessly as they play off each other, as they do in a tune like ”Winterset,” which Mouse explains was written while gazing from a window during a Chicago storm. “Loose Weave” which closes the album is a free form duet between Mouse and Robinson’s haunting sax. “Slow Helen,” which begins with a Mouse solo, has an almost old fashioned swing sound and has some fine moments from Davis.

Mouse seems to like a little word play in his titles. “Hip Check” is a hip reference he says, inspired by Boston Bruins hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr. He puns on the name of drum great Shelly Manne in “Manne=rism,” a tribute to what he calls his unorthodox take on the blues. The rhyming “Raucous Caucus” and the neologistic “The Breezeling” speak for themselves. Fortunately the music is as interesting and entertaining as the titles.

Marko Djordjevic & Sveti – Something Beautiful 1709–2110

marko_djordjevic_and_sveti_something_beautiful_When they talk about vital new voices in jazz, there are a bunch of them on this album. Not only the drum sensation who is leading the ensemble and composing all the music, but 2011 Thelonious Monk Competition winner, pianist Bobby Avery, and Australian bassist Desmond White make up the trio that handles six of the 12 tunes on the album. The other six tracks add tenor sax. Three feature Israeli tenor sax man Eli Degibri, and three Tivon Pennicott. Given Djordjevic’s Serbian heritage, this is a group of musical artists with an international flair.

Good jazz comes from anywhere and everywhere. Some of his music may reflect the drummer’s musical inheritance, but all of it swings with the kinds of rhythmic creativity and harmonic changes we’ve come to expect from the best in contemporary jazz. The uptempo “Ten Large Serbians” serves as a jazzy shout out to the drummer’s homeland, and “Home Made” has a little fun with what a cheesy local combo might do with a Latin sound, at least until Pennicott takes over for a sweet little solo. The ballad “Svetlana” and its reincarnation as “Svetlana Swinging on a Summer Evening” which ends the album both demonstrate the transformation possible to ethnic influences.

On the other hand, Pennicott’s work on a track like “War Song” has a spacey, almost mystical quality with a truly modern vibe. Djordjevic points out that the opening tune on the album pays homage to Ahmad Jamal and Tony Williams, so there are roots here also; they are jazz roots. He even suggests a nod to classical influences in “2007” and “Chimes.”

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