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Bossa of Possibility-- Jon Gold

Pianist Jon Gold was already playing Brazilian and Latin jazz on the West Coast, but it was when he moved to Brazil in 1990 that his love of Brazilian music really intensified. While teaching at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (he has a Ph.D. in Chemistry), Gold performed around the country and met such renowned artists as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Hermeto Pascoal. Bossa of Possibility is a follow-up to Gold's 2010 Brazil Confidential, and like it uses Brazilian rhythms and appealing melodiousness and textures to produce a special brand of spirited music. Solos are kept short for the most part, which only enhances the flow of each of the 12 Gold-composed selections. The core trio consists of Gold's piano, Harvie S on bass, and Mauricio Zottarelli on drums, but special "guests" abound and are interspersed throughout the program.

For example, the first track, the up-tempo swirling "Ora Bolas," features Rob Curto's accordian, Jorge Continentino's flute, and Zach Brock's violin. Howard Levy's hamonica plays the reflective theme of "Bossa of Possibility" with great feeling, and Gold's gliding piano solo retains the mood, followed by Levy's own absorbing statement. Gold's well-done brass arrangement is another plus. Jon Irabagon's sax enters enticingly only at the end as the piece fades out, which is a shame. Tom "Bones" Malone plays all the horns on "Bugalu 2-6-3," which has an "on the fly" arrangement that soars thanks to Levy's buoyant harmonica and funky rhythms from electric bassist Jeff Hanley, Zottarelli's drums, and Adriano Santos' percussion. Throw in an "Afro Blue" interlude at one point for good measure.

Gold wrote "Theme for Impermanence" upon learning of the death of the mother of Harvie S. The pianist's plaintive intro leads to a dual reading of the moving theme with the bassist. Harvie S delivers a singing, emotion-laden solo to conclude the track. Dave Liebman's soprano is showcased on the endearing, semi-bossa "Buster." A cello is added to the supporting mix, and Gold's comping is very sensitive as Liebman takes flight in an improv that ends all too soon and abruptly. An infectious swaying beat helps make "Caroline Dance" work, with Gold and Continentino's flute the center of focus until Bryan Murray's tenor solo ignites things over the pianist's ostinato.

"A.O.C." brings back Levy's harmonica for the sentimental theme, Gold's musical impression of the French village of Flavigny. Gold again excels in his accompaniment of Levy's heartfelt solo, as well as for the fervent one by Harvie S that follows. "P'bubu" is the leader's take on the "maracatú" and is influenced by Hermeto Pascoal. Levy and Continentino each convey feelings of joyful abandon. "Mineira" is Gold's portrait of the "magical" Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, with Scott Anderson's elegant acoustic guitar setting a mood of tranquility. Briyana Martin's vocalizing, and tenor, flute, and soprano musings gently expand upon the simple beauty pervading this offering.

"Mainstay" is in the form of a "ciranda" from the Northeast region of Brazil. Gold's sparkling piano, Santos' perceptive percussion, Brock's expressive violin, and Zottarelli's nimble drums combine in uplifting rapport before the pianist's kaleidoscopic solo. Brock then improvises boisterously as the selection winds down. Levy is up front and poignant during the lively, dancing "Samba Ballet," as Gold's stimulating obbligatos provide admirable backing. Finally, "Stanley" is dedicated to pianist Stanley Cowell, whose playing inspired Gold as a teenager. Liebman's soprano interprets the intricate, winding theme, and Gold's solo aptly explores the harmonic possibilities inherent therein.

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Scott Albin