Of all the things Japan, the U.S. and Brazil have in common, Minaswing stands out with its nice combination of talent and vitality. The band, formed by Silvio Anastacio (guitar, lead vocal), Paulo Cesar Gomes (piano, keyboards, vocals), Masami Hattori (percussion), Satoshi Ishikawa (drums, percussion), Kiichirou Komobuchi (bass) and Steve Sacks (saxophones, flutes, clarinet, vocals) has released its first album, Beautiful Horizon. The clever word play between the band name and Minas Gerais capital, Belo Horizonte, is a good indication of the music you will hear in this recording.
Minaswing draws strongly on Milton Nascimento’s famous Clube da Esquina music. From the gorgeous cover art work depicting the mountainous terrain of Minas Gerais to the liner notes — complete with all lyrics, personnel, photos and an introduction by Lisa Ono! — Beautiful Horizon wins your heart and ears at the very first track. Milton Nascimento and Ronaldo Bastos’s “Circo Marimbondo” and “Catavento” are arranged as a bouncy samba rich in percussion and vocals. The opening drumming — the famous tambores de Minas sound — is so entrancing that no matter where you are, you will move to the beat naturally. The song is a great opener not only because of its rhythm, but also because it allows all musicians to showcase their talents in several solos.
To my good friends in Minaswing:
You are a beautiful voice singing a beautiful song, wrapped in many-colored sounds, and within me a new treasure is formed. Because Minas is a treasure of sorrow. Because the heart danced and sang.
Spreading the wings and flying high through the sky…
Teaching us all that the everyday scenery turns to amber in an instant…
And bringing this feeling to us all…
This magnificent feeling…
A big kiss from your mom,
Beautiful Horizon cleverly mixes well-known tunes, such as “Circo Marimbondo,” “Ponta de Areia” and “Encontros e Despedidas,” with original numbers by band members, including vocal and instrumental songs.
The repertoire is very well balanced. For example, “No Vento” is a nice, slow samba written by Anastacio and Komobuchi. The keyboard arrangement in this track is very much influenced by Cesar Camargo Mariano’s style. Anastacio’s vocal is smooth and well delivered. He does not attempt to overdo his singing and simply gives the song the right treatment. Sacks also contributes a song, “Comunhão,” which was previously featured in his 1999 First Dream album (then in a reggae arrangement). The nice xote arrangement gives the band a chance to move from the interior of Brazil to the northeast coast. One of my very favorite Flavio Venturini’s songs receives a very elegant arrangement, too. “Nascente” is beautiful and was recorded by several singers in Brazil with Milton Nascimento’s rendition in his 1978 Clube da Esquina 2 probably as the one everyone remembers the most. This arrangement takes the song to new heights thanks to the sparse string use, Sacks’ solo and the swaying Bossa Nova tempo.
Before closing this excellent album with a haunting performance of “Ponta de Areia,” Minaswing does what its name states. Two great swinging numbers get you moving again. “Vôo de Avião” features a great acoustic guitar accompaniment supported by brass and percussion. A lively samba, this song really lets loose and leads you into Toninho Horta’s classic “Aquelas Coisas Todas.” The beat goes on and takes Minaswing forward and farther. Simply put, Beautiful Horizon swings with innovative arrangements and captivating performances.
For more information on the album and artist, please visit Silvio Anastacio.
Nippon Engineering College MD 032101 (2003)
- Circo Marimbondo/Catavento (Milton Nascimento)
- No Vento (Silvio Anastacio – Kiichirou Komobuchi)
- Comunhão (Steve Sacks)
- Nascente (Flavio Venturini – Murilo Antunes)
- Por Não Saber (Silvio Anastacio – Ricardo Jr.)
- Encontros e Despedidas (Milton Nascimento – Fernando Brant)
- Di Fato (Paulo Cesar Gomes – Antonio Freitas)
- Canção de Amar (Silvio Anastacio)
- Vôo de Avião (Silvio Anastacio)
- Aquelas Coisas Todas (Toninho Horta)
- Ponta de Areia (Milton Nascimento – Fernando Brant)