The Right Vibe
When the vibraphone is mentioned, people often tend to say that it’s a pity you don’t hear this beautiful instrument very often. However, when you think about jazz, some of its greatest representatives play the instrument. What to think of Milt Jackson, Lionel Hampton, Gary Burton, Mike Mainieri, to name only a few? In Brazilian music it’s a bit harder to find the mallet instrument (Jota Moraes comes to mind). So an album like Brasilian Vibes is more than welcome.
Arthur Lipner plays the instrument as no one else and above that he has a special heart for Brazilian music. He’s fascinated by the common African roots from the vibes with Brazilian percussion. Arthur (1958) started playing piano at age six and was intrigued by the xylophone that he saw in the studio of his jazz-piano teacher John Mehegan. So when he was 12 years old, Arthur already took lessons for the instrument. It proved to be the right choice. Arthur Lipner grew out to be among the best vibraphone players while he’s also very active in promoting the instrument by giving lectures and writing books. His love for the instrument led to some very unique situations like a concert with the National Dance Company of Ghana and a performance on a (self-constructed) ice xylophone on the top of a mountain at the Ice Music Festival in Norway! He also did a recording with Tuyan throat singers (southern Siberia) and marched through the streets of Rio during carnaval! A few years ago Arthur started to work on this album, later joined by his good friend Nanny Assis (Salvador, Bahia, 1969), the New York based percussionist. They both show us how well the vibraphone and marimba fit into the Brazilian music scene. Most of the music on Brasilian Vibes was written by both featured musicians. There’s enough variety in the repertoire to get a fair impression of how the vibes can color Brazilian music.
The album opens with the catchy urban pop tune “Brasil’s Hold On Me” that Arthur Lipner wrote to express his happy feelings of adoration for the country. It’s a relaxed introduction to the musical journey we’re taken on. There are a few standards that got special arrangements for the vibes (the bossa novas “Eu e a Brisa” that features the vocals of São Paulo based Vanessa Falabella and “Tarde em Itapuã,” with a beautiful solo on the marimba while Michael Leonhart can be heard on (muted) trumpet and flugelhorn.
The jazz classic “Four Brothers,” written in 1947 by saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre, gets a samba rhythm in which Wycliffe Gordon adds a New Orleans touch with his trombone solo. Arthur Lipner interferes on the marimba and the vibes. Nelson Faria is on acoustic guitar. Other guests are Vinícius Cantuária on the lazy bossa “Back to Bahia” (one of the album’s highlights) and Monobloco (the percussion section of PLAP) on “Mallet Evolution, Monobloco Revolution,” another highlight. On “Cru Cre Corroro” we’re surprised by the nice combination of accordion (Rob Curto) and the vibes. Ivan Lins recorded the song on his album Awa Yiô in 1990 and since then it wasn’t record very often. This is a nice occasion. “Affirmation” by Puerto Rican José Feliciano gets a sunny arrangement that includes Arthur on steel drums as well. It all makes Brasilian Vibes a more than interesting album. The music is great, well performed and the bonus is a rare and surprising view of the vibraphone and marimba on Brazilian Music!
You can visit Arthur on his very informative website.
Arthur Lipner & Nanny Assis
Independent (Mallet Works Media) (2012)
- Brasil’s Hold On Me (Arthur Lipner)
- Bagaceira (Nanny Assis)
- Back to Bahia (Nanny Assis – Laura Assis)
- Four Brothers (Jimmy Giuffre)
- Mallet Evolution, Monobloco Revolution (Arthur Lipner)
- Affirmation (José Feliciano)
- Eu e a Brisa (Johnny Alf)
- Morning Song (Arthur Lipner)
- Cru Cre Corroro (Ivan Lins – Vitor Martins)
- Peach Juice and a Niterói Sunrise (Arthur Lipner)
- Tarde em Itapuã (Toquinho – Vinícius de Moraes)
- Four Brothers (Jimmy Giuffre) – radio edit