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Cliff Kornan and The Brazilian Tinge: Migrations

Cliff Korman

Korman, a New York-born pianist-composer-arranger-educator, had an epiphany in his teens when he discovered bossa nova. Since then he has divided his musical interests equally above and below the equator, teaching in New York and Brazil. The group assembled here-10 instrumentalists, six singers and a narrator-produce more than a tinge of Brazilian; it is a canvas of thick Portuguese pigmentations thanks to Korman’s arrangements and some exotic percussion.

The 15 tracks resulted from another epiphany: a New York exhibition of Sebastiao Salgado photographs called “Migrations.” It inspired Korman to use variations on a haunting 1899 theme by Chiquinha Gonzaga called “Abre Alas” as a link between photos. The theme shows up in short introspective interludes for Korman’s solo piano as well as marchlike accompaniments to carnival parades, the latter with obbligatos by clarinetist Billy Drewes and trombonist Luis Bonilla.

The delightful choro called “Chorondo” literally floats, bossalike, over Korman’s best straightahead jazz playing. It also features excellent blending with Drewes-the same combination featured on Korman’s moody title tune. The leader’s “Dance” allows Drewes to stretch out on tenor, and on the tango “Dance” accordionist Rob Curto may convince you you’re in Argentina, not Brazil.

Migrations is a very colorful album.

Originally Published