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Jovino Santos Neto: Alma do Nordeste

Latin Grammy nominee, multi-instrumentalist and Rio-born composer Jovino Santos Neto explores the richness of his northeastern Brazilian ancestry with his latest offering Alma do Nordeste, a joyous collection of regional sounds inspired by the 1936 book (of the same title) written by C. Nery Camello. Neto spent time in 2007 researching Brazil’s northeastern region and turned his fascination into a tapestry of original works dedicated to the birthplace of his grandparents. Featuring the lovely accordion work of Toninho Ferragutti along with Carlos Malta, Marcelo Martins and Eduardo Neves (woodwinds), Marcio Bahia (drums), Dudu Lima (bass) and Gabriel Grossi (harmonica), Alma do Nordeste fuses the northeastern rhythms of baião, xote, forró and others with Neto’s characteristically modern harmony and orchestration, displaying the expert musicianship and camaraderie he obviously shares with his fellow compatriots.

Recorded in Rio, many of the pieces are dedicated to his musical mentors, including Hermeto Pascoal, Airto Moreira and late singer Marinês (The Queen of the Xaxado), while others paint a portrait of the richness of the northeastern cultural landscape. Lovely textures and colors are highlighted on the percussive “Passareio,” which evolves with increasing layers of fifes over a mesmerizing 31-beat cycle. Neto’s penchant for harmonically rich melodies is clear on the lovely “Rede, Sossego E Chamego,” which features a soulful dialog between Martins’ flute and Grossi’s harmonica, or the languid “Fulô Sertaneja,” where Neto and Martins (this time on soprano) have a sumptuous yet playful conversation. On the title track, Neto’s spicy flute chops shine alongside those of Hermeto colleague Carlos Malta over a funky bumba-meu-boi groove with the rock-solid pandeiro and triangle work of Tiago de Serrinha, while on “Forró Vino,” Neto’s percussive piano playing complements Marcio Bahia’s tasty drumming. The closing track, “Vermeio Agreste Lampiao,” is the perfect explosive conclusion to this robust and sonically diverse album. Alma is clearly a labor of love for the prolific and inventive Neto, who reflects the spirit and magic of Brazil’s Northeast with exquisite beauty and playfulness.

Originally Published