It’s delightfully ironic that Cliff Korman is only now getting around to calling a project Brasilified. The NYC born pianist’s majestic polyrhythmic adventure with his trio of bassist Augusto Mattoso and drummer Rafael Barata is simply the latest expression of a 40 year plus career steeped in the culture and music of Brazil.
Though his multi-faceted resume boasts legendary names like Chuck Mangione, Gerry Mulligan and Jon Lucien, his encounter with Brazilian clarinetist Paulo Moura – whose expansive, alternately atmospheric and bustling and semi-experimental “Guadeloupe” bookends the 9 track collection – got Korman’s musical passion on a Rio-leaning path that has blossomed in many directions over the decades. In addition to recording and producing numerous Brazilian projects, he’s a longtime resident of the country and is on the faculty at the Villa Lobos Institute UNIRIO, teaching (naturally!) Brazilian Music and Improvisation.
It’s testament to Korman’s unique flair for melody, mood swings and rich compositional instincts that his lone original, the whimsical, percussive, hard swinging title track, fits seamlessly among the gems he and his powerhouse cohorts (including guest saxophonist Paulo Levi on two tracks) interpret from the canons of Milton Nascimento (the soulful, wildly energetic and inventive “Viola Violar”), Antono Carlos Jobim (the warm and lyrical familiarity of “Triste”), Wayne Shorter (the punchy, improvisation rich sax and piano romp “Speak No Evil”) and Angenor de Oliveira-Cartola (the elegant, meditational waltz “As Rosas Não Falam”).
Just like Korman’s life and career up till now, Brasilified is a true celebration of the multitude of jazzy possibilities the culture and its music leaves itself open to.