Forcas d'Alma (Forces of the Soul)
Were you not informed that this was an album of Brazilian jazz performed by a Brazilian drummer, you might never guess it. No giveaway ta-tap-tap-tap-ta-taps of bossa nova, no jingle-jangling percussion. Instead, it's a collection of thoughtful jazz restatements, in the best late 20th century sense, of a handful of tunes that represent some of Brazil's most interesting, complex composers.
Moreno, a respected drummer in Brazil for three decades, learned his craft studying the likes of Edison Machado, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette, and has performed with everyone from Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento and Gilberto Gil to Joe Lovano and Jim Hall, yet this is only his second recording as a leader.
His choice of material couldn't be better. Four classics by the peerless Dorival Caymmi, Egberto Gismonti's (whose influence pops up repeatedly on this disc) "Sanfona," and two songs by Moreno's wife, vocalist Joyce, who also appears as a guest, are among the standouts.
Moreno's sidemen on piano, bass and reeds are clearly up to the challenge: to deftly navigate in, around and through the intricate lines that finally, after repeated listenings, reveal themselves as possessing Brazilian characteristics, more harmonically and melodically speaking than rhythmically. It's a subtle and soulful approach indeed, refreshing from a drummer, and all the more rewarding and timeless as a result.