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March 2009

Claudio Roditi
Brazilliance x4
Resonance Records

Of the 10 tracks on Brazilliance x4, eight are studio recordings and the other two live. Those two, Claudio Roditi’s own “Tema para Duduka” and “Gemini Man,” sequenced toward the end, are far and above the most exhilarating performances of the set. That they are also the lengthiest may or may not be coincidental; the opportunity to stretch out onstage apparently gave trumpeter Roditi and his accompanists—pianist Helio Alves, bassist Leonardo Cioglia and drummer Duduka da Fonseca—a license to shoot sparks that evaded the quartet in the studio.

That reticence may have been intentional: Roditi, in a press release, is quoted as saying, “There’s nothing elaborate here, but it’s highly pleasant,” and he’s right. But Roditi has in the past—as recently as 2006’s Impressions, on which he put his spin on several Coltrane tunes—found that sweet spot where traditional Brazil meets up with jazz, transcends both genres, retains the pleasantness, and ultimately becomes something greater. There are scattered in-studio moments that approach the revelatory. On Miles’ “Tune Up” and Raul de Souza’s “A Vontade Mesmo,” Roditi’s trumpet and flugelhorn, sensual and steamy, move beyond the merely proficient. But the rest is often snoozy, and Roditi is hampered by a rhythm section that finds little reason to do more than what’s required; da Fonseca’s penchant for overlong, ill-fitting drum solos kills the mood more than once, and Cioglia, save for a couple of tracks, makes little impact.

The album’s saving grace is pianist Alves, who feels no compunction to rein in; he provides most of the more thrilling moments—“E Nada Mais” and the feather-light “Song for Nana,” for example, belong to him. With Brazilliance x4, Roditi has crafted a satisfying though largely unchallenging recording.

Originally published in March 2009
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