Since joining the group Samba Cinco, which performed in the famous Beco das Garrafas on Rio de Janeiro’s 52nd street, in 1963, pianist and composer Antonio Adolfo has been one of Brazil’s most prolific and influential artists and performers. Fusing Brazilian rhythms with more traditional jazz forms, the multiple Latin Grammy nominee has worked with many major singers (including Flora Purim, Elis Regina and Milton Nascimento) and recorded more than 25 albums as a leader. Until now, however, there was one thing missing from his expansive resume – the opportunity to record with a large big band ensemble.
The fulfillment of a lifelong dream, Adolfo’ latest work Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica is a melodically and harmonically surreal, rhythmically diverse collection blending the pianist’s prodigious and inventive ivory skills with the youthful vibrancy of a group that, formed in 2012, represents the present and future of Brazilian music. It’s like the master who laid the groundwork keeping transcendent company with incredible artists who are carrying their country’s eclectic vibes to the next generation.
While Adolfo’s brisk arrangement of Miles Davis’ well-traveled “Milestones” showcases the Orquestra’s deeply creative jazz sensibilities, the pianist’s nine originals – ranging from the playful dance party jam “Partido Samba-funk” to the eloquent melancholia of “Saudade” and a fresh romp through Adolfo’s most famous composition “Sa Marina” – take the listener on a whirlwind journey through his country’s rich musical history.
While Adolfo’s sparkling solos shine throughout, his arrangements allow many of the Orquestra’s members – including alto saxophonist Danilo Sinna, tenor saxman Marcelo Martins, trumpeter Jesse Sadoc and accordionist Marcos Nimrichter – to hold improvisational court and help drive the empowering narrative.