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Andrea Brachfeld: Brazilian Whispers (Origin)

A review of the flutist's deep dive into the Jobim book

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Andrea Brachfeld, Brazilian Whispers
The cover of Brazilian Whispers by Andrea Brachfeld

For Brazilian Whispers, veteran flutist Andrea Brachfeld dives deep into the Jobim book, turning out fresh interpretations of familiar gems. Best known for her affiliations with Slide Hampton, Wallace Roney, and Dave Valentin, Brachfeld is joined by her regular working band—longtime collaborator Bill O’Connell on piano and Rhodes, double bassist Harvie S, and drummer Jason Tiemann—on about half the tracks. “Double Rainbow,” its acoustic-electric textures buoyed by electric piano, makes for a soft opening, the rhythm section driving the gentle waltz time that supports solos by Brachfeld, O’Connell, and guitarist Roni Ben-Hur. “Waters of March,” featuring one of Jobim’s most beautiful melodies, is reborn as a swinger, while the pretty “Amparo” is frontloaded with a bit of free time and Ben-Hur’s flickering, Spanish-edged guitar before Brachfeld leads on alto flute. She stays on alto for the laid-back “Never Let Me Go,” recorded in tribute to the late Roy Hargrove.

Other tones and textures surface elsewhere, courtesy of Brazilian mainstay drummer Portinho and journeyman bass guitarist Lincoln Goines, with whom O’Connell played in Valentin’s band. Multiple overdubbed flute parts underscore the theme of “Passarim,” which features extended solos by the leader and the pianist. “Ligia” benefits from the lightly funkified Goines-Portinho grooves, as does a reharmonized, reconfigured “Girl from Ipanema.”  

Brachfeld and O’Connell also collaborated on three originals, including feelgood bossa “Sonhos e Cores” (“Dreams and Colors”), another of six tracks bolstered by Ben-Hur’s colorings and propulsion. “Triste e Solitaria” (“Sad and Lonely”) opens up to showcase Harvie S’s technical virtuosity and melodic derring-do, and closing samba “Espaço Aberto” (“Open Space”) zeroes in on the session’s other bassist, with ample room for Goines’ rubbery, fleet-fingered declarations. At under three minutes, the jaunty piece makes the perfect nightcap.

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Philip Booth

Philip Booth is a longtime arts journalist and bass player based in Florida. Formerly the pop music critic for the Tampa Tribune, he has contributed to many national publications, recently including the Washington PostJazziz, and Relix. His byline also has appeared in DownBeat, Bass Player, Billboard, Variety, Spin, Rolling Stone, and several academic journals. Sharkskin, the second album from his long-running band, Acme Jazz Garage, has aired on radio stations across the U.S.