To perform these involved pieces of music, Cioglia enlisted the help of some of the finest jazz musicians of his generation: John Ellis (saxes), Mike Moreno (guitar), Stefon Harris (vibraphone, marimba), Aaron Goldberg (piano) and Antonio Sanchéz (drums).
In keeping closely in touch with Cioglia's own roots, Contos is Brazilian-flavored throughout, and on cuts like "Filhos Do Pequi" and "Olhos D'Agua," it's more overt. However, these South American influences are seamlessly folded into advanced, modern jazz to create a tapestry that's uniquely Cioglia's.
The opening title piece "Contos (Do Neco)" sets the tone for the album with melodic trails that meander through shifting metres and sometimes, no time-keeping at all. Through all the somersaults that melody takes, it always manages land firmly on its feet. Eventually, the song settles into a snappy, conventional chord progression that Ellis, Moreno and Goldberg can easily groove on top of. Moreno, an up-and-comer guitarist to keep an eye on, in particular shines with his fluid, Metheny-esque notes, made to sound even more like Pat Metheny by the presence of Metheny's outstanding current drummer Sanchéz.
Cioglia doesn't solo here or anywhere else, but as he does throughout the entire album he fills a wide space at the bottom. His approach to his instrument is to maximize its comping potential, filling in notes in much the same way a pianist does in a supporting role, and does just as much to render the melody as Goldberg.
"Santa Maria" is the most elegant song of the set, and perhaps the most elegant instrumental jazz song written in a while. Harris' warm vibes lend a Modern Jazz Quartet spirit to the proceedings, with his solo evocative of Milt Jackson.
One of the aforementioned strongly Brazilian songs follows. "Filhos Do Pequi" begins with a five chord pattern set to a samba with the theme stated by Ellis and Goldberg. Goldberg's single note runs literally dance to the samba beat, and Ellis also emits joyous sounds from his tenor during his own solo run.