VANDERLEI PEREIRA AND BLINDFOLD TEST, Vision for Rhythm
Had versatile Brazilian drummer emerged from his vast decades long resume as a sideman with his majestic and melodically sweeping, rhythmically expansive debut Vision for Rhythm in 2016, it would have been a wondrous mood-setter for the Rio Olympics. But no matter, the infectious, alternately sultry/sexy and intensely buoyant and celebratory collection celebrates the joys of life just as well in a year we perhaps need it even more.
Though he’s worked with the likes of Toots Thielemans, Flora & Airto, Bebel Gilberto and Tito Puente, perhaps the most fascinating element of Pereira’s back story is his shift from classical to jazz and samba after retinitis pigmentosa blinded him in his early 30’s.
That’s the thematic germ for the concept of his Blindfold Test group and “Vision for Rhythm,” turning adversity into whimsy just as he takes his original melodic concepts - and those of masters like Airto (the feisty, flute and scat vocal driven “Misturada (Mixing),” Antonio Adolfo (the brisk and playful “Partido Love”) and Edu Lobo (the rumbling, vocally soaring “Corrupiao”) – to stratospheric, pulsating realms.
Though Pereira gets his share of explosive percussion spotlights, he’s generous with extended solo showcases for his brilliant band members, including Jorge Continentino (sax and flutes), Susan Pereira (voice, percussion) and Deanna Witkowski (piano). True to its title, this is a visionary work from a master whose career as a bandleader is bright and limitless.