With over 30 albums to his credit, legendary Brazilian pianist/composer Marcos Ariel has been sharing the ample musical joys of his home country Brazil and his hometown of Rio for nearly four decades. In recent years, he’s found fresh inspiration sharing his love for the harmonic and rhythmic elements of North, Central and South America (Americas), his lifelong passion for the sea and all forms of oceanic activities (Wave Hunter) and on a mellower note, tenderness and calm on Lullabies for Babies and Pets.
His latest album, the lyrical, sweetly melodic (mostly!) and richly impressionistic Piano Blossoms, finds him expressing through his trademark solo piano virtuosity his enjoyment of an activity he started later in his life – taking long walks in the morning and looking at flowers that grow wild in his two hometowns, Rio and L.A. Much more in the acoustic new age than jazz or world music vein, the ten track album features mostly one word titles of plants (“Passionflower,” “Plumeria,” “Lavender,” “Orchid” and the improvised piece “Fuchsia”) to help us visualize his specific inspirations, and is a unique way to experience Ariel’s unfettered artistry and pure emotion.
With the exception of the stark, dramatic chords infusing “Narcissus” (aka daffodil), it’s a smooth, soothing and mood-swinging journey with a few very personal touchstones that reveal deeper emotions beneath his simple love of natural wonders. “Bougainvillea” was a favorite plant of his mother and allows him to reflect softly and meditate on sweet childhood memories (when it seemed to him every home in Rio had a piano in the house!). His grandmother loved “Chrysanthemums” and the sweet tender melody of that piece was composed in her memory.
Ariel closes the set dreamily with “Calla Lily,” which not only celebrates the flower but his affection for his five year old granddaughter nicknamed Lily. After so many rhythmically dynamic ensemble recordings, it’s lovely to experience the more tender side of Ariel on these past two recordings.