Cool Brazilian Jazz
Back in August 2006, I had the privilege of reviewing a recent album by Grupo Comboio. Besides the original repertoire they performed in that album, the caliber of those artists also impressed me. As a Brazilian jazz lover, I am always happy to see new names emerging in the instrumental music scene. In that group, Rubinho Antunes grabbed my attention especially with his solo in Chico Buarque’s “As Vitrines.” I wrote:
Antunes’s flugelhorn solo turns the song into a mostly sensual, sultry number. It is exquisitely beautiful.
Needless to say that upon hearing Rubinho had a solo album, I was curious and eager to hear it.
Rubinho Antunes was born in RIbeirão Preto (1979), in the countryside of São Paulo. At the early age of 6, he was already playing the flute and subsequently the trombone at age 8. At that time, he played with the municipal band of Santa Rosa de Viterbo (hence the connection to the title of this release). He studied at the Dr. Carlos de Campos Music and Drama Conservatory, where he eventually became a professor after graduating there. His life in music has taken him to festivals and further studies. In 2001 he obtained his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Campinas (Unicamp). Besides his work with Grupo Comboio, Rubinho has played with some well-known artists in Brazilian music, including Johnny Alf, Toquinho, Banda Mantiqueira, Mozar Terra, Simone Guimarães, Nivaldo Ornelas, Juarez Moreira, Renato Braz and the trio Sá, Rodrix & Guarabyra. In addition to being an excellent musician, he still finds time to arrange and compose, as it is evidenced by his penning all tracks in De Viterbo.
De Viterbo in some ways follows a traditional jazz approach in the sense that it features a quintet headlined by Rubinho Antunes on trumpet. The other members of the ensemble are Guilherme Ribeiro (piano), Alberto Luccas (bass), Pepa D’Elia (drums) and Cacá Malaquias (saxes). Special guest Paulinho Malheiros (trombone) adds a different tonality to the music we hear in “Zica.”
Recorded in São Paulo in 2005, the album is musically rich and rewarding. The basic quartet is nicely tight and presents a good balance in the solos. For example, the combo trumpet and sax in “Bom Começo” does set off the album on the right track. Guilherme’s solo in that track is swift and breezy. He paves the way to more lively solos by Rubinho. The chemistry between him and Rubinho is remarkable. Just listen to the title track as another example. Rubinho’s solo in “De Viterbo” is magically fiery with just the right piano foundation backing him up. Though the up-tempo tracks are memorable, one cannot help but fall head over heels for the ballads, as in the case of “Sorriso da Lua.” Alberto’s rich bass solo adds a fantastic layer to Guilherme’s gentle piano and Rubinho’s lustful trumpet solos. The same goes to the closing ballad “Tema para Rosi.”
Rubinho Antunes is a promising new star in the Brazilian instrumental music scenario. De Viterbo is proof of good ground work he has set up. Now we just need to enjoy this release knowing that if Rubinho maintains the same quality in future albums, he will have his work nicely cut out.
Please visit Rubinho Antunes to learn more about this release and listen to sample tracks. You can also hear samples here.
À Deriva Discos ADVA0003 (2006)
All compositions by Rubinho Antunes, except where noted.
- Bom Começo
- Meus Camaradas
- De Viterbo
- Sorriso da Lua
- Tema de Maio
- Zica (Guilherme Ribeiro)
- Tema para Rosi