The Music of Djavan
Jazz flute and Brazilian music go all the way back to Herbie Mann’s pioneering work, recordings that predated even tenor saxophonist Stan Getz’s crossover hits. Both Getz and Mann embraced bossa nova and collaborated with Brazilian musicians, but Bell, a flute player whose Web site’s motto is “From Bach to Bebop,” here delves into the broader, more eclectic Brazilian “tropicalismo” of composer Djavan, with his wider rhythmic palette and pop and rock elements. The emphasis is on jazz rather than the tropics, a more propulsive rhythmic approach signaled by David Enos frequently using electric bass rather than acoustic, the presence of Tamir Hendelman’s piano, the absence of guitar, and drummer Enzo Todesco’s funky takes on Brazilian and jazz rhythms.
Bell’s virtuoso command of both the C and alto flutes allows her to rock out on the harder grooves, swirling and staccato punching notes on “Canto da Lyra,” while swinging along fluently with bop runs and trills on the double-timed sections of “A Ilha (The Island),” a far cry from its usual sultry mood. She also ping-pongs phrases sibilantly off the jubilant samba beats of “Obi” and evokes twittery birdsong on the skipping rhythms of “Serrado.” Hendelman, yet another jazz talent from Israel, projects an exuberance and generosity reminiscent of Monty Alexander in his playing. And both flutist and pianist can be lushly romantic on the ballad tracks enhanced by full orchestrations from Kuno Schmid. Anna Gazolla, who adds hand percussion to some tracks, ably sings “Capim,” the CD’s nod to the traditional bossa-nova record.