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June 1997

Claudio Roditi
Claudio, Rio & Friends
Groovin High

An idol to many jazzmen currently playing in his native Rio de Janeiro, bop trumpeter Roditi apparently had no difficulty in lining up an enthused and talented crew to participate in this session of heated Brazilian jazz. For his core group, Roditi chose the 11-year-old Cama de Gato, a burning, bop-inspired quartet comprising alto-man/flutist Mauro Seise, keyboardist Jota Moraes, bassist Arthur Maia, and drummer Pascoal Meirelles. Seven of the ten selections allow us to also hear such other formidable local musicians as trumpeter/fluegelhornist Guilherme Dias Gomes, tenorman Nivaldo Ornellas, guitarists Guinga, Rodrigo Campello, and Lula Gavao, and, singing the Portuguese lyrics on "Samba De Um Bregue," Leila Pinheiro.

Now that it has moved beyond the lilting attractiveness of bossa nova to embrace the visceral approach of hard bop, Brazilian jazz is becoming as valid a representation today of its West African heritage as the related expressions of New Orleans and the Caribbean. What unites them all, of course, is the primary emphasis placed on a swinging polyrhythmic time base, an element largely abandoned in jazz during its various fascinations with West Coast Cool and the European avant garde.

Originally published in June 1997
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