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Trio Da Paz: 30

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Sometimes the landmark anniversaries sneak up on you. Perhaps because this is only their seventh release (plus one accompanying Kenny Barron), it doesn’t seem like three decades have passed since guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca joined forces as Trio Da Paz. Not much has changed for the Brazilian virtuosi since those maiden outings: A shared reverence for tradition is matched by a desire to sidestep it, and the result is music at once familiar and nonconformist. It works because the three go out of their way to see that it does. Go looking for samba and bossa nova in Trio Da Paz and you’ll find it, but don’t be too surprised when it doesn’t head where you expect it to.

30 goes deep right away. Opener “Sampa 67,” a Matta-penned São Paulo tribute, toys with tempo and structure, eases off long enough for the author to take a solo run, is handed over to Lubambo and Da Fonseca, and then burns for the duration. “For Donato,” largely a Lubambo vehicle, and “Sweeping the Chimney” maintain the frenetic pace and intricate interaction, but it’s not all rush and gush. Among the highlights are “Águas Brasileiras,” a feathery Matta ballad, the earlier “Outono,” which respects the more traditional samba rhythm just enough, and Da Fonseca’s “Flying Over Rio,” one of his two contributions to the 10-track disc, similarly serene.

Only one cover infiltrates, Baden Powell’s “Samba Triste,” and it’s a corker, with Lubambo peeling off licks as if he’s engaged in a bluegrass breakdown. After 30 years, Trio Da Paz makes it all seem easy.

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Originally Published