Voltarol - related music

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Nothing much?

One album that I have been playing a lot recently is called Nonada which is either the title of the album, the name of the band or both – I’m not really sure. I can’t even find the word in my Portuguese/English – English/Portuguese dictionary, although I’m pretty certain that it means ‘nothing much – a trifle’, which, if that is the case, is as fine a piece of understatement as you are ever likely to come across. This music is terrific!

Just as there is no obvious name for this Brazilian group there is also no obvious leader, but then if you look at the calibre of the individual musicians, they are all leaders in their own right anyway. One would assume that this would lead to impossible tensions but if it does then they are not apparent here. The group consists of Rodolfo Stroeter – double bass; Tutty Moreno – drums; André Mehmari – piano; Teco Cardoso – soprano, alto and baritone saxophones, c, alto and bass flutes and
Nailor Proveta – alto saxophone and clarinet.

As a frequent visitor to Brazil I was aware of these musicians individually and have albums by all of them, but I first became conscious of them as a group around 2000, when I bought a CD under Tutty Moreno’s name entitled Forcas D’ Alma. Teco Cardoso did not feature on this CD but Moreno’s wife – the singer, guitarist and composer Joyce – guested, as she does on ‘Nonada’. As a consequence I pounced upon this new album with high expectations and was not disappointed.

The addition of the great Teco to this line-up was an inspired move. Excellent though the music is on ‘Forces D’ Alma’ it rises to new heights on ‘Nonada’, and the more I listen to it, the better it gets. When I started looking for links for this posting I was amazed to discover that it is not currently available. Although it was recorded in 2005 it was not released until last year, on the admirable Biscoito Fino label, under the Pau Brasil imprint. I do hope that this is a mistake or an oversight of some sort, and if it isn’t then – please, all you good people at Biscoito Fino, reconsider your decision and reissue this album.

The album features compositions by some of the great names of Brazilian music – Moacir Santos, Ary Barroso, Dorival Caymii, Hermeto Pascoal and Baden Powell as well as an original by Nailor Proveta and a Joyce composition on which she guests. The rhythmic and harmonic flavour of Brazil permeates this music but this is no stereotypical ‘jazz ’n’ samba’ confection. This is first and foremost jazz, and Brazil now has a very distinct jazz voice of its own. In the same way that North American jazz has always drawn on North American musical culture for inspiration and source material, so Brazilian jazz musicians tap into the great wealth of their own musical heritage, which goes way beyond just bossa nova.

Alas, there are no clips from Nonada available on line (apart from the brief sound-bites on the Biscoito Fino website) but I have assembled some YouTube clips of the participating musicians here, for you to get some idea of the sheer quality of these people.

Here is Rodolpho Stroeter with his group, Pau Brasil, in 1996. The personnel includes Teco Cardoso.

And here is the Tutty Moreno Quartet in 2001. This is the 'Nonada' line up but without Teco Cardoso.

Here is André Mehmari with his trio, performing in São Paulo in 2008.

This is Teco Cardoso performing in London in 2008 with the group Oriole Brasil.

And finally, here's Nailor Proveta with Tutty Moreno's quartet again.

Do go and seek out this album. It really is well worth looking for and I'm sure that there are copies to be found still. In the meantime I shall write to Biscoito Fino and ask them to reinstate it!