The magic of serendipitous chemistry with the right compadres sometimes opens the door for a veteran, highly decorated musician to take creative and rhythmically dynamic flights previously unimagined. Such is the magnificent, melodic and harmonically transcendent case with famed four time Grammy nominated drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, who brings to his ensemble work with the freshly formed Quarteto Universal and their debut album Yes! a powerfully diverse resume of countless legends, from Gerry Mulligan and Kenny Barron to Herbie Mann, Wayne Shorter and fellow Brazilians Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento and Oscar Castro-Neves.
In 2021, after enjoying a concert in Central Park, he met bassist Gil Lopes and guitarist Vinicius Gomez, both of whom indicated they wanted to work with Da Fonseca. The drummer, sensing the grand possibilities and an opportunity to add a fresh adventure to his lengthy career quickly decided to form a quartet with those equally decorated masters and pianist Helio Alves.
For all its sparkling, seamless musical camaraderie and alternately bustling and poignant conversations, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the joyous 10 track set – and testament to the Quarteto’s stylistically openminded spirit – is the fact that they consciously decided not to overemphasize Brazilian rhythms; rather, they simply let their innate connection with those styles to emerge organically. One of the most fascinating tracks is “Transition,” which defiantly begins with an extended hypnotic drum solo before the percussively swinging group, led by Alves lively piano melody and Gomez’s plucky guitar solo, kicks in. Da Fonseca joins in the rumbling for some fascinating textured interplay.
On other tunes, like the whimsical opener “Samba Novo,” he pops in with a booming solo after a Gomez’s extended lightning quick improv. Though the quick paced tunes like the exotic adventure “Exodo” are the most irresistible, the ensemble showcases uncommon soulful grace on sensual easy flowing ballads like “Montreux” and “Bebe.”