It’s still often overlooked, but also in Brazil there’s an outstanding jazz circuit. This album, Colagens, by Marcelo Coelho’s MC4+ proves it again with some serious improvising and high quality musicianship. It’s amazing how the band members complement each other on every track on the CD.
Marcelo Coelho is the leading force behind this power. The saxophonist from São Paulo developed an interest in jazz and reed instruments during his teenage years. Among the first influences were of course Stan Getz and Wayne Shorter, the two best known saxophonists in Brazil since they worked respectively with João and Astrud Gilberto and Milton Nascimento. While studying all aspects of music (Jazz, Brazilian, saxophone, composing, rhythm schemes, etc.), Marcelo got in contact with the music of John Coltrane (1926-1967), later followed by the music of saxophonist David Liebman (New York, 1946). It led to a fascination for complex rhythm schemes and structures. Another influential musician was Brazilian violinist, composer, researcher and professor at Unicamp, the late José Eduardo Gramani (1944-1998), who, among other publications, wrote the study “Rítmica.” Meanwhile, during the second half of the 90ies, Marcelo earned various scholarships by the Brazilian government which he gratefully used to investigate the material even more detailed. He was also given a scholarship to get his Masters Degree in Jazz at the University of Miami. Marcelo performed in varied genres of Jazz and Brazilian music, while he also started to teach. It was his good friend saxophonist Felipe Salles who brought Marcelo in further contact with the music of David Liebman. Felipe followed Liebman’s famous yearly Saxophone Master Class at the East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania and returned home with a storehouse of valuable information and material. It stimulated Marcelo to attend Liebman’s 15th edition of the Master Class in 2002, which led one year later to his doctoral research at Unicamp, the Campinas State University of São Paulo. Marcelo Coelho was then ready to record a first album with his band MC4+.
The first impression after listening to Colagens is one of confusion with a feeling of the need to listen again, with even more attention. Too much is happening; you really need to focus on the music which will then open up for you in a graceful way. The opening lines of “I Juca Pirama” immediately make clear that, as often in Jazz, the rhythm section offers a solid grip for both listener and soloing musician. Guitar, bass and drums lie down the complicated rhythm pattern on which trombonist Vincent Gardner inventively performs his solo. Vincent Gardner (Chicago, 1972; brother of trumpeter Derrick Gardner) is mainly known for his work with Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Jazz Orchestra, as well as with the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. On this album, together with Paulinho Malheiros, he’s the extra soloist on trombone. Marcelo Coelho takes over on the tenor sax and the ending lines lead us into the next theme (“Tormenta”) that works to a staccato hesitation on which the same two soloists freely improvise. They make way for guitarist Lupa Santiago, who often escapes from his role in the rhythm section, to join in and to take over the lead with a self confident solo towards the theme again. Lupa Santiago studied in the US (graduated from Berklee, Boston and Musicians Institute, Los Angeles), has five albums under his own name, participated on numerous other CDs and teaches clinics with his own instructional videos. He also opens “Jota-Pê,” impressively supported by drummer Carlos Ezequiel. The drummer delivers an outstanding performance throughout the whole CD. Carlos is a welcome guest in many ensembles (like with bassist Sizão Machado, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel) and has performed all over the world on various jazz festivals. On this track we also hear trombonist Paulinho Malheiros, who, among others, also participated on De Viterbo from Rubinho Antunes. The ballad “S.U.Y.E.” continues the album in a beautiful way. Bassist Guto Brambilla, also a familiar face in Brazil’s jazz scene with innumerable appearances on jazz festivals and at jazz clubs, provides the atmosphere on “Sono.”
This album features some high quality jazz by musicians who know extremely well what it’s all about. The soloists delve in and out of the rhythm and harmonies of the compositions, supported by secure bass lines and haunting drum patterns. The way the album closes, with a moment of contemplation by a tenor sax and guitar duet, adds to the tasteful approach of Marcelo Coelho. This is a more than an impressive recording debut of MC4+.
Please visit Marcelo Coelho to hear sound samples of this album and find out more about this artist.
Independent MC4+001 (2007)
All compositions by Marcelo Coelho.
- I Juca Pirama