Claudio Roditi: Bons Amigos

Ken Franckling reviews the latest from the Brazilian trumpeter

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Claudio Roditi

Claudio Roditi is a solid trumpeter, able to meld into any situation without artifice or flash. These traits have served him well throughout his 40-plus years in jazz, and they serve him well on this latest project, a salute to some of the great music and songwriters of his native Brazil.

Egberto Gismonti’s “O Sonho” is an ideal opener for the project, with its breezy hooks and personal history for the trumpeter: Roditi played on the original recording of the tune in Brazil in the 1960s as a member of Gismonti’s horn section. The pop tune’s producers had no interest in leaving space for jazz solos then; but 45 years later, Roditi gets a chance to fully explore and stretch its beautiful melodic line on this version, performed with a baião rhythm.

One of the highlights of this quintet session is Roditi’s memorable double-time take on “Ceu e Mar” (“Sea and Sky”) by Johnny Alf, a composer whose early 1950s works paved the way for the bossa-nova movement. Pianist Donald Vega also contributes some fine solo lines to the piece. Guitarist Romero Lubambo’s soloing and unison lines with the trumpeter-particularly on the title track, a beautiful ballad written by Toninho Horta-contain rare grace. The quintet also includes bassist Marco Panascia and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli. Tamir Hendelman contributes five of the arrangements, including the Gismonti and Horta tunes and two breezy Eliane Elias ballads, “Para Nada” and “Amandamada,” on which the band retains the composer’s musical flavorings.

Roditi penned three originals for this project, including “Bossa de Mank,” the straight-ahead jazz burner “Levitation” and “Piccolo Samba,” which features him on a higher-pitched piccolo trumpet that is overdubbed to create a one-man horn chorus. He also offers his laidback vocals, with a Brazilian lilt, on Jobim’s “Ligia.” This is a terrific listen all around.