Adriano Adewale Group
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Adriano Adewale Group

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band World Jazz


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""...reminiscent of the great Airto Moreira’s magic but with a personality of its own”"

“Creating a fabulous range of sounds and rhythms reminiscent of the great Airto Moreira’s magic but with a personality of its own” The Herald - The Herald

"Adriano Adewale"

Adriano Adewale boasts an imposing collection of firepower yet deploys it with rare restraint. - The Times

""The Vibe is Exhilarating." ****"

Is it “world” or is it “jazz”? The questions is posed by Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale, and his new group comprising Kadialy Kouyate, a kora player from Senegal, flautist and saxophonist Marcelo Andrade, from Brazil, and Nathan Thomson, who doubles on string bass and flute, from Australia. There are no theme-and-solos clichés, only creative originals, dipping into different traditions to make something eclectic, bright and distinctive. Kora and flute, sometimes twin flutes, combine beautifully, while the rhythms are positively primal.

Essentially, these are praise songs from black South America recast in contemporary form. Producer Gilad Atzmon guests on clarinet, and Adewale’s regular employer, guitarist Antonio Forcione, also drops by. The vibe is exhilarating.

- Manchester Evening News

""Adewale gave an extraordinary performance.""

Adriano Adewale’s Quartet blending jazz, African and Brazilian elements amazed the audience at Pizza Express on Wednesday, 17 September launching their debut album Sementes. Produced by Gilad Atzmon, this album is due for release on 22 September.

With Adewale as the percussionist, vocalist and composer, the band included Kadialy Kouyate playing on kora and vocals, Nathan Thomson as the double bass and flute player and Marcelo Andrade on the flute, saxophone and violin and guest performers, Gilad Atzmon and Antonio Forcione. The live performance offered a tantalising glimpse into Sementes.

Atmospheric and restorative, the music evoked natural sounds such as the rattling of snakes and the trickling of rain. As the frontman, Adewale gave an extraordinary performance. Fanatical about music, he sang and handled his instruments with rapture. The melancholy song ‘Family Album’ expresses the yearning for one’s homeland featuring intense singing by Adewale. Beginning calmly, ‘Domingo’ then explodes into a dramatic crescendo. ‘Passa por Mim’ is a Samba-influenced track played on recycled instruments. Throughout the performance, the quartet used the African percussion piano kalimba to intensify the authentic sound.

- Jazzwise Magazine

""Sementes benefits from a loose, folky jazz feel and nuances that separate it from your average world groove recording." ***"

Moving to London in 2000, it didn’t take too long for the effusive Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale (formerly Pinto) to get noticed. His big break came when asked to join the international-touring band of world improve guitarist Antonio Forcione, who guests briefly on his debut CD. As with Forcione, Adewale’s quartet also has a diverse international make-up but the music tends to a less straightforward, easy-on-the-ear side of world improve than the Italian guitarist. The band is made up of fellow Brazilian saxophonist/flautist Marcelo Andrade, Australian bassist Nathan Thomson and Senegalese Kora player Kadialy Kouyate. Its roots are in South American folklore, African and Arabic traditions; Kouyate’s delicate kora playing is the outstanding flavour alongside Andrade’s folky jazz flute improves. But Adewale likes haunting, dark-toned modes for his themes and some quirky spoken word and Brazilian scat vocals add strength to his extremely versatile percussive palette. The CD has an intimate, low-key production courtesy of world-jazz reedsman Gilad Atzmon who, besides contributing clarinet, also demonstrates his lesser-known accordion skills. Sementes benefits from a loose, folky jazz feel and nuances that separate it from your average world groove recording.

- Jazzwise Magazine

""although superficially gentle on the ear, reveals more powerful felicities on repeated exposure.""

Attempting to define or, more properly, to discourage others from arbitrarily and inaccurately labelling his music, Sao Paulo-born percussionist Adriano Adewale says: ‘My music relates to “world music” in the sense that it has been composed in different countries and is influenced by different traditions.

There are also elements of the jazz art form on this album, mainly in the strong sense of freedom, which can only be fully understood and felt when the players are not trying to create the moment but when the music is allowed to grow out of their hands.’

This statement perfectly describes the music on this, his band’s debut album (the title means ‘seeds’), which features Senegalese kora player Kadialy Kouyate, Brazilian saxophonist/flautist Marcelo Andrade, Australian bassist Nathan Thomson and guest appearances from producer Gilad Atzmon (clarinet, accordion) and guitarist Antonio Forcione (with whom Adewale frequently plays).

Adewale’s compositions are, unsurprisingly, strongly rhythmic in conception, frequently involve his own vocal contributions, and range from languorous lopes, over which Kouyate’s kora shimmers and scintillates, to more vigorous material in which Andrade’s horns or flute and the pleasingly abrasive clarinet of Atzmon are tellingly employed.

The guest presences, indeed, with their slightly more urgent feel, provide a useful complement to the more easy-going approach of the regular band members, and overall this is an album that, although superficially gentle on the ear, reveals more powerful felicities on repeated exposure.

- Vortex Jazz

""Buy the album, stay at home, go on a journey.""

Adriano Adewale might have been born into one of the world’s biggest urban sprawls (Sao Paulo) but his music is deeply rooted in a rural Africa and its offshoots around the world. The name of this debut album “Sementes” (meaning ‘seeds’ in Portuguese) is both apt and evocative. For me, the overwhelming feeling is a sense of organicness (the album feels like it has been nurtured rather than composed) and also a very natural acoustic quality to the recording. You can feel the hands of the musicians, not the producer or the technology. Nothing feels forced or out of place. It really is a beautiful, sumptuous, sound. The album’s artwork by Claire Curtis really sets the scene too using woodcuts and subtle natural painting.

When Adriano selects his instruments for each track it’s with the surety of knowing the exact sound required. In our minds the interplay of wood, skin and seeds paints rippling landscapes of sound; I hear (or is it see?) stands of dry grass, bubbling rills, clattering rushes, dusty plains broken by smooth hills, distant forests washing up against purple-tinged mountains, diamond -crusted indigo skies, thick water-storing trees, cattle, villages, birds, rocks, paths that disappear into hollows, bleached bones, vibrant green shoots in red soil, men, women and children, generations of peoples, endless stories rooted in the earth.

Add the unmistakeable springs of musical water that burst forth from Kadialy Kouyate’s kora, Marcelo Andrade’s sometimes playful, sometimes mournful flute and saxes and Nathan Thomson’s fluid double bass and all these stories come to life. This is music that each can listen to and take something personal away from: each person their own landscapes, their own stories.

This is just my overriding experience of this album. However, there are other voices here too. Virtuoso guitarist Antonio Forcione adds his talent to one track and the album’s producer, Gilad Atzmon adds his accordion and clarinet to various tracks also.

Adriano says that the album is a reflection of his surroundings, his experience of living in London, his childhood in Brazil, his friends. However, it also addresses his wider environmental concerns, issues of faith and also African-Brazilian and European identity. It is well known that after spending time in Africa he rid himself of his previous surname - Pinto - and decided to choose for himself something that better reflected who he was, who he wanted to be and so the two new surnames: Adewale (from the Yoruba culture of West Africa) and Ituana (from the indigenous language and cultures of Tupi-Guarani in central South America).

Without interviewing him personally, I can’t tell how he approached each individual track, what the tunes mean to him personally, what his story is, but I can try and give my impressions; ultimately you must come up with your own.

The album starts off with the sprightly Sempre, featuring Adewale’s smile-inducing vocals (I’ve no idea what he’s saying, but it sounds uplifting!). Throughout the track (and the whole album) his drumming never dominates the whole sound of the band, even when he’s crashing around a whole variety of percussion instruments. It’s always the band and the album that come first, never “Look at me: I’m a Drummer”. Sign of a good bandleader in my book.

Next is the serene, timeless Domingo featuring Kadialy Kouyate’s stately kora playing and, later, Marcelo Andrade’s flute (loving the subtle accordion and clarinet lines from Gilad Atzmon also) over an understated percussive figure and repeated bassline. Quite hypnotic.

Comboio has a more obvious Brazilian start with its bouncing surdo 2/4 beat, busy tarol (a rattly Brazilian snare drum) and martial reeds but then descends into something darker, Atzmon’s clarinet being particularly unsettling; maybe that’s city-life, I don’t know, but it ain’t for me!

Family Album starts with the sound of Adewale calling out, as if to family, friends - nobody seems to answer. Has everyone gone away? Slowly kalimba, kora and flute start to speak into the space as other voices, whispers, ghosts maybe, appear from the thin air. Listen, make up your own story . . .

Assim is another of those musical soundscapes that makes you want to lay back in the shimmering heat, close your eyes and drift off down the river created by the crystalline kora and thick, pulsating double bass, whilst Adriano’s udu (clay drum) nudges at you like a huge fish and the zephyrs of Gilad’s clarinet spin you in circles, round and round, down the river, toward the horizon . . .

Passa Por Mim cracks along, driven by the peculiarly dry quality of the pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine played on the skin) over a jaunty flute melody.

Telefone, in my ears, is a midnight jazz-tango - if not in rhythm, then in emotional tone; with Andrade’s soprano sax rising up into the air like a voice lifted in both love and lament - gorgeous! Beautifully underpinned by the rest of the band and with extra accompaniment from Atzmon’s lush, romantic accordion, as close as the warm, dark, pressing night.

Encanto - has one of the catchiest melodies on the album, alto sax and clarinet uniting as one over Thomson’s throbbing bass-line and Kouyate’s kora. Adriano’s ‘old boss’, Antonio Forcione, contributes some wonderful guitar solos on this track which makes you wonder what they’d come up with if the guitar and kora were allowed to spar directly against each other.

Sementes closes with a short track called Together, featuring Adewale on pipes (I think they are long bamboo tubes hit at the ends with a flat paddle to produce a percussive but quite eery sound almost like a giant guitar being plucked) and also Kadialy Kouyate’s vocalisations over soprano sax and Maasai flute from Thomson.

I’ve mentioned Thomson’s double bass which infuses the album with a warmth and presence similar to that found in the work of someone like Danny Thompson. But if you read the credits carefully you’ll notice that he also contributes standard flute, an alto flute and a Maasai Flute to the album, as well as Kalimba (thumb piano).

At first hearing the album felt ‘friendly’ to my ears, but didn’t leap out; with each fresh listening, I hear more and more layers and see more details in the landscape. Fresh horizons open up, I elaborate my stories. It gets deeper, richer.

My recommendation? Buy the album, stay at home, go on a journey.

""World jazz at its best. Exhilarating, uplifting, life affirming music from the planet via London."****"

If any evidence were needed to demonstrate how London has become a musical melting pot this album is it. “Sementes” (or “Seeds” in Portugese) features London based musicians hailing from all over the globe.

The session is led by Brazilian percussionist/vocalist Adriano Adewale with the core group also comprising of Adewale’s compatriot Marcelo Andrade on saxes and flutes plus Senegalese kora player Kadialy Kouyate and Australian born bassist and flautist Nathan.R.Thomson. There are guest appearances from Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione, a long term associate of Adewale’s and from the Israeli Gilad Atzmon who appears here on both clarinet and accordion and also produces.
The music is all written by Adewale with the exception of the closing “Together” , a collaborative group effort. Adewale pulls the disparate styles his colleagues bring to the music together with aplomb. There is a good natured feel to this album and as a whole it hangs together remarkably cohesively.

Adewale is a gifted melodicist and there are some great tunes here starting with the joyous “Sempre” with Adewale’s percussion and Brazilian scat vocals driving the band. Andrade’s effervescent flute and Kouyate’s kora dance around each other, the whole underpinned by Thomson’s sturdy bass.

“Domingo” is more reflective with brooding alto flute, delicately lyrical kora, exotic percussion and a rich bass undertow. Atzmon adds both clarinet and accordion in the latter stages of this hauntingly effective tune.

“Comboio” sees Andrade introducing saxophones into the mix in tandem with Atzmon on clarinet and Thomson on alto flute. The horns make a joyful sound over Adewale’s chattering tarol ( a kind of snare drum) before the tune enters a darker, vocalised mid section.

Adewale has made a point of examining his African roots and the atmospheric “Family Album” is a reflection of this with the use of Kouyate’s kora and Thomson’s kalimba (African thumb piano). However the sound of Brazil is here too in Adewale’s voice and Andrade’s flute. The leader’s percussion binds the two strands together.

“Assim”re-introduces the horns of Andrade and Atzmon but it is Kouyate’s dazzling kora playing that takes the instrumental honours here. Adewale’s udu drum and Thomson’s low register bass groove provide rhythmic impetus.

“Passa Por Mim” is more overtly Brazilian with an infectious samba feel but Kouyate’s kora ensures that the spirit of Africa is never far away.

“Telefone” features Atzmon on accordion an instrument on which he is seldom heard. He combines well with Andrade’s soprano sax on this beautiful piece, both brooding and elegiac.

Forcione’ s acoustic guitar features on “Encanto”, a joyous offering with a pronounced West African feel. He duets with Kouyate over Thomson’s rich bass pulse and Adewale’s delightfully detailed percussion. Andrade’s alto adds extra melody and colour. It’s stirring stuff.

The closing “Together” is a brief improvisation with Adewale credited as playing “pipes” an instrument that sounds like a smaller version of Echo City’s batphones. Kouyate provides the vocal and Thomson adds the distinctive sound of the Masai flute. An interesting and atmospheric way to conclude a remarkable album.

Adewale combines his Brazilian and African roots brilliantly in a captivating synthesis. There is some stunning playing on this record and the writing and arranging skills are exemplary. Everything meshes together seamlessly, singling out individual contributions would be invidious-this is a great team effort.

As for the is it jazz?/is it world music? Debate, well there are enough jazz elements here to keep most adventurous jazz fans happy. But this brilliant inter-continental collaboration is world music in the best sense of the phrase. Exhilarating, uplifting, life affirming music from the planet via London.

One senses that the great Don Cherry would have approved. - Jazz

""Jazzy Braziliance from London"***"

Adriano Adewale is a London-based Brazilian percussionist best known perhaps as a regular member of Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione’s quartet. Sementes is his own group’s inaugural release: nine of his rich and varied compositions are played on a basic combination of kora (harp-lute), reeds, double bass and assorted percussion. Among many others, Adewale has played with Seu Jorge and Andy Sheppard. The latter’s format on the Inclassificable album – with keyboardist Steve Lodder and Brazilian percussion maestro Nana Vasconcelos – is maybe Sementes’ closest cousin.

‘My music relates to “world music” in the sense that it has been composed in different countries and is influenced by different traditions,’ Adewale explains. ‘There are also elements of the jazz artform… mainly in the strong sense of freedom.’ The haunting and dramatic ‘Family Album’ typifies his multi-faceted compositions. It starts with a lone voice accompanied by Nathan Thomson’s kalimba, calling out plaintively. Kora and double-tracked flute then texture the piece before a poignant, echoing cry leaves you wondering what exactly you’re just heard. Given Adewale’s environmental concerns, it could even be a lament for the paradise lost of the Amazon basin. ‘Telefone’, with its North African ambience and exquisite mix of accordion, kora and soprano sax, is another highlight.

So is this jazz? World music? Or jazzy world music – in the vein of France’s estimable Hadouk Trio or Senegal’s Kora Jazz Trio? Whatever, it’s a fine evocative album, framed by lovely artwork. A most promising debut.
- *** Songlines -November 2008, Mark Sampson

""Adewale's compositions are simple but uncliched, featuring different percussive combinations on nearly every track. It's beautifully recorded, too."***"

Percussion and wind instruments have an affinity that goes back aeons, and Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale makes the most of it on this album, which features woodwinds by regular collaborator Marcelo Andrade and appearances by producer Gilad Atzmon. Adewale has been a welcome presence on the UK scene for years, playing with Monica Vasconcelos, Antonio Forcione (who guests on Encanto) and Jonathan Priess, of samba/choro group Caratinga. Sementes (Seeds) resists easy categorisation. Kadialy Kouyate's measured kora parts give the ensemble a timeless, West African slant, while Nathan Riki Thomson's bass adds contemporary, nu-jazz suppleness. The shrill winds of Comboio somehow link north-eastern Brazil with Eastern Europe. Adewale's compositions are simple but uncliched, featuring different percussive combinations on nearly every track. It's beautifully recorded, too.

- *** John L Walters The Guardian, Friday October 10 2008


SEMENTES (Seeds) 2008 (Segue Records SEGCD0801)

RAIZES (roots) Sept 2010 (Segue Records SEGCD1002)



Throw aside preconceived musical prejudices, abandon all attempts to catalogue: a rich chemistry of cultural influences is at work when the Adriano Adewale Group gets together on stage.

Rooted in the musical traditions of Nigeria, Angola and Brazil and infused with contemporary European classical and jazz styles, percussionist and composer Adriano Adewale’s music is a global fusion of musical influences.

“Music starts and finishes with silence. From beginning to end there is much that is seen and experienced that cannot be put into words. Our music varies in shape, weight and colour, and it takes the audience on a journey where sounds uncover intrinsic identities of simplicity and beauty, through translating images, words and movement into music.” Adriano Adewale.

He performs with his outstanding ensemble of international musicians: Australian Nathan Thomson on double bass and flute; Senegalese Kadialy Kouyate on kora and vocals; and Brazilian Marcelo Andrade, on flute, sax and rabeca.

“Adriano Adewale boasts an imposing collection of firepower yet deploys it with rare restraint.” The Times

Adriano formed the Adriano Adewale Group in 2007 to explore his own compositions with other accomplished musicians. Their music explores issues of history, identity and nature. The group has released their debut album SEMENTES (Seeds) in September '08. Produced by international Jazz ledgend Gilad Atzmon the album features Gilad Atzmon and virtuoso guitarist Antonio Forcione.

This band's pedigree is very special:

Adriano Adewale was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. For many years he was known as Adriano Pinto, a colonial name he received at birth. It was after he visited to Africa (Nigeria and Benin Republic) to discover his roots that he changed his name to Adriano Adewale Itauna, from the Yoruba-Nigeria and Tupi Guarani-Brazil respectively. He moved to London in 2000 and formed his first UK band Sambura, which released one album, Cru. Performing in various festivals and venues, Adriano was introduced to Antonio Forcione and soon became part of the Antonio Forcione Quartet who performs all over the world. Other great collaborators he has shared the stage with with include Bobby McFerrin, Joanna MacGregor and Benjamim Taubkin.

Kadialy Kouyate was born in southern Senegal, in Kolda in Casamance. He was born into a large musical family of dialis or griot, meaning West African storytellers who perpetuate the oral tradition and history of a village or family. He is a direct descendant of Balla Fasseke Kouyate, the first Mandinka diali who became the official griot in the service of the emperor. At the moment Kouyate is the leader of a 4 piece band called Sound Archive.

Marcelo Andrade (Saxophones, Flutes & Violins) was born in Rio de Janeiro. He moved to London in 1989 and continued his studies of jazz violin, saxophone, flute, guitar and composition. Marcelo has had many TV appearances and his compositions have been widely broadcasted (Jazz FM, BBC, NHK). He has recorded and performed with a variety of artists, from Milton Nascimento to Corinne Bailey Rae, and has co-led his own groups for a number of years, amongst them London Latin Jazz Ensemble, Japanese-Brazilian project Ohayo-Samba and Brazilian-Funk group Saravah Soul.

Nathan Thomson (Double Bass and Flute) was born in Australia where he studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. Further studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama brought him to London where he is now based. Nathan Thomson is a bassist, multi-instrumentalist and composer with a focus on acoustic and traditional instruments. He has collaborated and performed with musicians from many parts of the world with a special interest in Africa where he lived and worked with traditional musicians for five years.