Nov 18 2016

Dan Costa: Suíte Três Rios

Endless Sea of Excellence!

Suite Três RiosBrazilian music has really solidified its presence in the world music scene. Countless artists across the globe have performed and recorded classics from the Brazilian songbook. Each year new names surface with noteworthy albums. Dan Costa (London, UK – 1989) is yet another newcomer who creates Brazilian music and extends our horizons to even farther reaches of the planet.

Dan Costa’s story is not very different from others’ who have somehow experienced and lived Brazilian music where they grew up. The son of Portuguese and Italian parents, Dan was educated in Europe prior to being awarded a grant to study Brazilian music at São Paulo’s UNICAMP (Universidade Estadual de Campinas). His musical education started with classical piano training at the Académie de Musique Rainier III followed by further studies at the Académie Internationale d’Été de Nice (both of these in France). Those studies took him to more places (e.g., Aurora Music Star Festival in Sweden) until obtaining his diploma with merit at the Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, United Kingdom. At that time he was already showing strong interest for jazz and Latin music. Attending the Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo (Portugal) led him to another degree in jazz piano. The next step was UNICAMP. Traveling the world, attending workshops and working with musicians of the caliber of Kevin Hays, Scott Colley, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jorge Rossy, Chick Corea and César Camargo Mariano took Dan Costa to Finland, Germany, Spain, Greece, the USA, in addition to the UK and France. Earlier in 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, he recorded his first solo album, Suíte Três Rios, a very strong debut.

Suíte Três Rios, as Dan Costa explains, was composed while studying in Brazil at UNICAMP. The album title comes from the confluence of the rivers Negro and Solimões forming the Amazon River. The track titles reflect the fact that the album “pays homage to the diversity of Brazilian rhythms, with the exception of the first (“Alba”) and the last (“Aria”)” (that one reflects his Italian origins). Of course with his ancestral roots tied to Portugal, the lyrics to “Bossa Nova” are an ode to his Portuguese background and its literary tradition. Dan CostaBesides playing the piano in these magnificent arrangements he created, Dan was also in charge of production along with Ricardo Silveira (also on guitar here). His base musicians include Marcelo Martins (alto/tenor sax), Vittor Santos (trombone), Alberto Continentino (double bass) and Rafael Barata (drums, pandeiro). Also featured are 

Jaques Morelenbaum (cello), Leila Pinheiro (voice), Teco Cardoso (baritone sax) and Marcos Suzano (percussion).
The music in the album clearly reflects a Brazilian universe at first glance. However, Dan told me and pointed out that “the album encompasses diverse influences, not just Brazilian.” Another interesting point goes to the list of guest stars in Suíte Três Rios. Even though Dan didn’t have those musicians in mind when he wrote these pieces, he says that “like a plant they ended up growing.” Take, for example, the beautiful “Bossa Nova.” Dan tells me that it “was initially instrumental, but following Leila’s enthusiasm” he wrote the lyrics in the only vocal piece of the album. That is one of those haunting ballads that will stay with you long after you’ve listened to it. Leila Pinheiro‘s rendition is heavenly! Kudos also to the amazing trombone solo in the capable hands of Vittor Santos. Stunning! Throughout the entire album these musicians hold back nothing and provide us with excellence in music. They enhance Dan Costa’s stellar compositions with grand dynamism. Marcos Suzano guest stars in “Baião” providing enough energy just as Jaques Morelenbaum enriches the album opener with his playful solo along with Marcelo Martins’ brilliant and evocative sax presence. And then, right before closing the album, Teco Cardoso‘s baritone sax seals this elegant collection with “Modinha.” About that piece, Dan said:
[it] was inspired by the star-lit sky of the Amazon following my trip there while at the same time reflecting the lyricism inherent in this musical form, originally from Portugal, yet one of the building blocks – with the Lundum – of Brazilian music.
At the time of this writing, Suíte Três Rios is only available via streaming. However, Dan tells me that because of the demand, a physical CD will be released later. In the meantime, just head over to your favorite streaming service to get your copy of the album. Suíte Três Rios has quickly become one of my favorite albums of this year. The music is alluring and performed with a striking roster of first-rate musicians. The album is a winner in every aspect!
You should also visit Dan Costa’s web site to learn more about him and his music. The video below features Dan talking about the making of this album. It’s in Portuguese with English subtitles.


Dan Costa
Suíte Três Rios
Independent (2016)
Time: 36’00”

Tracks (all music by Dan Costa):

  1. Alba – w/ Jaques Morelenbaum
  2. Chorinho
  3. Samba
  4. Bossa Nova – w/ Leila Pinheiro
  5. Baião – w/ Marcos Suzano
  6. Maracatu
  7. Modinha – w/ Teco Cardoso
  8. Aria