Live at JazzBaltica
A more virtuosic crew than Brazil’s Trio da Paz (guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta, drummer Duduka Da Fonseca) defies possibility—unless, of course, vibraphonist Joe Locke joins them. That foursome lets loose on Live at JazzBaltica, a gorgeous set of mainstream bossa nova. Locke’s presence is a surprise: Usually performing in a more adventurous setting, he has never before recorded Brazilian jazz. But with his speed and tonal palette on the second track, “Copacabana,” he demonstrates a natural affinity for Brazilian grooves, superior, perhaps, even to frontline partner Lubambo. The guitarist is no slouch, though; if he struggles rhythmically, he compensates by matching classical, crystalline tone with flamenco harmony and flair on his beautiful “Pro Flávio.”
While Locke and Lubambo compete to steal the show, Fonseca and Matta astonish by stealing it from both of them. The drummer attacks as though furious (with a peculiar surplus of crash cymbal), even on the gentle “Sword of Whispers” and “Wave.” Matta has both subtlety and power. The disc merits a listen focusing on the bass: It becomes the band’s center, the other instruments decoration for the thick pulse and accents—most marvelously on the centerpiece and highlight “Bachião.” Collaboration between players of such caliber is, of course, good for everyone involved. Live at JazzBaltica is the sound of four virtuosos having a blast even as they try to upstage each other. Their musicianship can overwhelm—hearing every note of every solo is nigh impossible—but it’s a joy to listen to.