Songs From the Last Century
HD2 is two Brazil-to-New York transplants, pianist Helio Alves and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca. The foundation of this album is their trio with Eddie Gomez on bass. On four tracks, there is a four-piece string section, with arrangements by Oscar Castro-Neves. On three of those tracks, Phil Woods joins on alto saxophone, and on two of them, Maucha Adnet and Paulo Jobim sing.
Invited guests have messed up many albums by turning them into miscellanies. But Songs From the Last Century holds together. Its continuity comes from graceful melodicism infused with airy energy, and from a certain wistful poignance that stays gentle even on pieces of high intensity. Alves is a pianist whose instincts are lush and romantic and expansive—and driven by an inner pulse. Speaking of pulse, Duduka Da Fonseca is one of the most elegant, subtly fervent drummers in current jazz. Even when your ears don’t hear him, your body feels him. Castro-Neves’ yearning strings and Phil Woods’ incisive brightness become illuminating variations within a single interwoven cross-cultural fabric.
The two tracks with vocalists Adnet and Jobim (“Sabiá” and “These Foolish Things”) possess vast quantities of a commodity that, in our hard cold world, cannot be overvalued: genuine charm.