Friday, February 8, 2013

In review--Orpheus' Carnival!

Nilson Mattas
Black Orpheus
Motema Music

The Greek myth featuring the love story about Orpheus and Euridice has captured the attention of music and movie makers. In 1956, the Brazilian play, Orfeu da Conceicão hit the stages and the sound track, record players.  In 1959, French filmmaker Marcel Camus released the Academy Awards-winner Black Orpheus.  And the Brazilians hadn’t their last word.  Brazilian director Carlos Diegues brought us Orfeu in 1999 (which I have seen).  And this month, Brazilian bassist Nilson Mattas pays homage to the legend-love story with his CD Black Orpheus.

Featuring 16 musicians performing both original songs, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá and Vinícius de Moraes’ samba and bossa nova classics (from the Brazilian play and French movie) and it feels like Brazilian carnival has marched into my apartment.  Equal parts romantic, and effervescent, Black Orpheus feels like a spot of sunshine.  The overall sound feels warm, with tender piano conversing with trumpet, flute, clarinet, double bass, jazz drums, and Brazilian percussion.  Leny Andrade’s soulful vocals on Felicidade portray the aches of romantic love.  Manhã Carnival moves to a Brazilian jazz groove whereas the short percussion interlude, Batucada calls to the feet and hips to dance and to celebrate life.  Too bad the interlude lasts only 37 seconds! Gretchen Parlato sings in a voice that burns with passion and longing on Eu E O Meu Amor/Lamento No Morro and Valsa De Eurídice.

The entire album comes off as seamless while paying tribute to a famous love story that promises to get under every listener’s skin.  This story of redemption, loss, and romantic love no doubt will end up on future canvases, movie screens and music devices. But for now, enjoy this carnival of Greek legends and Brazilian music makers in your home. And don't be surprised if you visit the movie classics too.

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