Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Nilson Matta: Nilson Matta’s Black Orpheus

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Growing up in Brazil, bassist Nilson Matta was obsessed with the music from the 1956 play Orfeu da Conceição and, later, from the film based on it, 1959’s Black Orpheus. Both featured songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá, and that music would be the world’s introduction to what became known as bossa nova. More than half a century later, Matta has finally tackled the music of his youth and interpreted it with an all-star cast.

Nilson Matta’s Black Orpheus gathers songs from both the play and the movie, and the roster features all-stars from Brazil, the United States and beyond, including pianist Kenny Barron, flutist Anne Drummond, clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Guilherme Monteiro, vocalists Leny Andrade and Gretchen Parlato, and five prominent Brazilian percussionists. The joyous affair begins in earnest with “Overture,” whose haunting opening theme leads to a celebratory performance. One of the most familiar pieces, “Manhã de Carnaval,” is stripped down to a trio treatment; Barron takes the helm, and his lines are wondrous, crisp and classy. Fernando Saci’s insistent, pounding hand percussion assumes the lead voice on the powerful “Ascend, My Love,” and Cohen’s clarinet floats breezily over the five-piece rhythm section on “Un Nome de Mulher.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published