Jovino Santos Neto
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Jovino Santos Neto

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"Beautiful Brazilian jazz from pianist Jovino Santos Neto -- playing here in a wonderfully fluid mode that sparkles with lots of warm acoustic touches! Neto's playing mostly piano for the session, but also brings in a bit of melodica, flute, and accordion -- further expanding the colors in the tunes, as do some of the album's great guest performers -- who include Joyce, Hermeto Pascoal, Hamilton De Holanda, and Marcos Amorim! There's a sense of grace here that's totally great -- one that really recalls an older sound of Brazilian jazz back at the end of the 70s, and which is recorded here without the overly glossy production style that sometimes hurts other albums of this nature." - dustygroove.com


Pianist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Jovino Santos Neto falls into that select group of musicians who have a massive dose of talent and an original vision. A self-professed disciple of Hermeto Pascoal, with whom he played for 15 years, Santos Neto displays a similar angularity, rhythmic asymmetry, and combination of the traditional and the revolutionary.

His music can be equally as dissonant, surprising, and intriguing, and like his mentor's, unfold with kaleidoscopic swirls of ongoing improvisation. Putting his fingers where his thoughts are, Santos Neto has the ability to send melodic lines in any direction at any moment, which may be a leftover of Hermeto's inevitable influence, but more truly indicates the spirit of his musical intuition and his identifiable compositional style. Santos Neto's capacity for harmonic fantasy and his quixotic sense of adventure are unmistakable throughout his new CD, Roda Carioca.

Santos Neto is a believer in giving as much creative freedom as is practical to his musicians, and as a consequence the quality of his work depends to some extent on his sidemen. On Roda Carioca, he is well served by players who, rather than splitting the seams of his tunes, enhance his original conception.

Rogério Botter Maio (acoustic bass) plays beautifully throughout, eschewing the impulse to overplay and fill in too many gaps, and Marcio Bahia (drums and zabumba), having an acute appreciation of the variety of sounds capable of being produced from a drum kit, is the soul of assertive drive.

Although these three have not recorded a trio album before, they are simpático and long-standing colleagues whose playing sits together seamlessly. Tingling with exuberant invention, Roda Carioca also makes judicious use of a number of soloists, with Hermeto himself being the most persuasive in that role.

The disc's unusual timbral palettes and its variety of forms - baião, coco, choro, and marcha rancho as well as odd-metered sambas - set out a radical program somewhat similar to music Santos Neto delves into on prior recordings. As wide-ranging in form and imaginative in content as they are, his earlier albums give only a partial account of his talents.

The tunes in this varied program display Santos Neto's incredible ear not only for instrumental blends, but also for angular designs, which is nowhere more evident than on the odd-metered opener "Estrela do Mar" (Starfish). Here, Rogério Botter Maio's bass solo, superbly inventive, is consistently lyrical, his dancing lines punctuated by percussive stabs by Marcio Bahia whose value as a sensitive painter of rhythmic sounds emerges. Voicings, colors, and polyrhythms are masterful.

Following it up is "Marfim" (Ivory), an unabashed baião with Santos Neto executing sinuous and unpredictable lines on both melodica and piano, and Marcio Bahia floating comfortably across bar divisions and jousting with Botter Maio while still providing exemplary group punctuation.

After those first two tunes, any other would seem to be anti-climatic, but each additional piece has reasons for further fascination. "Gente Boa" (Nice Folks) is a feast of penetrating playing by two masters of their instruments, Santos Neto and Hamilton de Holanda, who blur the boundaries between improvisation and composition.

Another pairing, that of two transcendent Brazilian lyricists, Joyce and Santos Neto, is one of the great exemplars in the art of intimate conversation. Their lacing up Moacir Santos's "Nanã," is an illustration of focused spontaneity. Says Joyce, "We did it all live, of course, as it should be, and had great fun. The trio was amazing; it was a real joy to work and interplay with them."

On "Festa de Erê" (Children's Party), a samba in 3/4, Santos Neto produces driving keyboard excitement, letting his fingers and feet dictate colors, and projecting notes with pinpoint velocity. Harmonically shrewd and rhythmically daring, this tune is virtually an aural drama on its own terms.

One of the most memorable and impressive tracks is "Coco na Roda" (Coco in the Circle), Santos Neto's tribute to Jackson do Pandeiro, which acquires instrumental texture not only from its multi-tracked flutes and accordion, but also Fabio Pascoal's percussion contributing so much to the rhythmic depth and complexity of the tune. Botter Maio and Bahia are hand in glove on "Homeopatia" (Homeopathy). Their anticipation of each others' moves marry tension to an inexorable flow giving the dialogue between piano and rhythm section a balanced mixture of the prepared and the extemporized.

Juvenal is Hermeto's nickname for Jovino. Grumari is Jovino's favorite beach in Rio. "Juvenal no Grumari" (Juvenal in Grumari) is a 7/4 theme that Hermeto used for exchanging a string of solos at rehearsals for O Grupo, raising then relaxing tension while constantly building momentum and placing soloists under pressure.(1)

On Roda Carioca, Hermeto, demonstrating his ability to build d - by Bruce Gilman


The Portuguese word roda translates as “wheel,” but it is also refers to a circle around which musicians play and dancers dance. On his latest Brazilian-jazz release, Roda Carioca (Rio Circle), pianist Jovino Santos Neto embraces this term on many levels. Santos Neto, who has recently appeared on Liquid City releases, featuring Seattle-based ensembles—his last Canto de Rio (2003), nominated for a Latin Grammy award—calls upon a handful of standout guest players such as Hermeto and Fabio Pascoal, Hamilton de Holanda, Joyce, Marcos Amorim and Gabriel Grossi. Undoubtedly, with this expanded circle of Brazilian friends, Neto’s musical ambitions are realized on Roda Carioca. As Santos Neto reveals in the liner notes, this project was especially rewarding because it was his first opportunity to record in his hometown, Rio de Janeiro.

Newcomers to the Latin jazz piano scene will discover that Roda, in many respects, is stylistically on par with Danilo Perez’s recent release, Motherland. Both include wonderful musicianship from guest artists—for example, strong vocals from Joyce and Luciana Souza, and polyrhythmic magic from each album’s perspective percussionists and bass players. Whereas Santos Neto draws on a wealth of Brazilian styles such as samba, baiao, choro and marcho rancho, Perez’s Panamanian roots are firmly ingrained in his playing. However, both Santos Neto and Perez are omnivorous, pan-Latin jazz players, who organically blend numerous styles to create wholly original music.

Roda begins with the amazingly natural 5/4 “Estrela Do Mar” (“Starfish,” which has five arms, of course). This cut establishes the tone for the rest of the album, which is: interesting melodies and solos coupled with solid rhythmic underpinnings. Other highlights on the album are “Gente Boa” (“Nice Folks”), de Holanda’s mandolin showpiece; the catchy “Coco Na Roda” (“Coco in the Circle”), which includes Santos Neto doubling on flute; Amorim’s light acoustic guitar voicing on “Rancho Azul” (“Blue Ranch”); and “Bach-Te-Vi,” a Bach-inspired minor choro featuring Grossi’s Toots Thielman-like harmonica playing.

The CD package not only includes Santos Neto’s own notes on the players and the compositions themselves, but also a 15-term Brazilian Music 101 glossary, extremely helpful for the neophyte. For the listener, Roda will also hopefully serve as a window into the incredibly vast world of Brazilian music—MPB (musica popular brasileira), bossa nova, samba, and choro. Just a word of warning: Once you take the Brazilian plunge, there’s no return.
- by Mark Strohschein


Discography

2006 Jovino Santos Neto Roda Carioca (Rio Circle) (Adventure Music)

2003 Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto Canto do Rio (Liquid City)

2003 Mike Marshall/ Jovino Santos Neto Serenata (Adventure Music)

2003 Tingstad & Rumbel Acoustic Garden (Narada Records) Grammy Award for best New Age Record of 2002

2001 Chitravian N. Ravikiran Rays and Forays (Naxos World)

2001 Jovino Santos Neto/Richard Boukas Balaio (Malandro Records)

2000 Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto Ao Vivo em Olympia(Liquid City Records)

1999 Various Artist People of the Willows (Makoché Records)

1997 Jovino Santos Neto Quarteto Caboclo (Liquid City Records)

1997 Gary Stroutos The Native Heart (Makoché Records)

1997 Mike Marshal Brasil Duets (EarthBeat Traveller Records)

1996 Fourth World Encounters of the Fourth World (B&W Records)

1996 Gary Stroutos Winds of Honor (Makoché Record)

1995 Flora Purim Speed of Light (B&W Records)

1992 Sergio Mendes Brasileiro (Elektra) Grammy Award Winner for best world Music Album 1992

1992 Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo Festa dos Deuses (Polygram Brazil)

1987 Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo Só não toca quem não quer (Som da Gente)

1985 Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo Brasil Universo (Som da Gente)

1984 Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo Lagoa da Canoa, Municipio de Arapiraca (Som da Gente)

1982 Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo (Som da Gente)

1980 Hermeto Pascoal (Cerebro Magnetico) (WEA Brasil)

1980 Hermeto Pascoal Ao Vivo em Montreux (WEA Brasil)

1979 Hermeto Pascoal Zabumbê-Bum-Á (WEA Brasil)

Photos

Bio

The barriers between classical music, jazz, and indigenous Brazilian music have been obscured by Rio de Janeiro-born and Seattle-based pianist, flutist, and composer Jovino Santos Neto. A member of Hermeto Pascoal's legendary band from 1977 to 1992, Santos Neto has continued to expand on his world music-influenced vocabulary. He built on his knowledge of Brazilian music during a stint with Airto Moreira and Flora Purim's group, Fourth World, from 1993 until 1997. He also worked with such artists as Mike Marshall, Richard Boukas, Celso Machado and Chitravina N. Ravikiran. He has recorded several albums with flutist Gary Stroutsos, including the Native American-influenced People of the Willows in 2000. He toured Europe in 1994 with Swiss cellist David Pezzoti. Santos Neto's 1997 debut solo album, Caboclo, featuring his compositions with the accompaniment of quartet members Hans Teuber (saxophones, flute), Chuck Deardorf (bass) and Mark Ivester (drums), was followed by Ao Vivo em Olympia in 2000 (with the addition of percussionist Jeff Busch and Harvey Wainapel on saxes and clarinet) and by Canto do Rio in 2003. Canto do Rio was commissioned by Chamber Music America's New Works program and was nominated for a 2004 Latin Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. He also received commissions by the IAJE and ASCAP, Jack Straw Foundation, Seattle Arts Commission, Artist Trust and Meet the Composer. Jovino was the recipient of a Golden Ear Award as the Best Jazz Instrumentalist of the Pacific Northwest in 2004.

Studying classical piano from the age of 12, Santos Neto moved to Beatles and Rolling Stones-influenced pop by his 15th birthday. He began to focus on jazz while studying biology at McGill University in Montreal. Invited to tour Brazil with Hermeto Pascoal in 1977, Santos Neto remained an important part of the Brazilian multi-instrumentalist's band for 15 years, co-producing six albums, including Festa dos Deuses, which received a Sharp Prize as Best Instrumental Album in 1992, and archiving thousands of Pascoal's compositions. Relocating to the United States in 1993 after performing on Sergio Mendes's Grammy award-winning world music album, Brasileiro, Santos Neto studied conducting at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where he continues to teach piano, composition, and jazz ensemble. He gives lectures and workshops on Brazilian music worldwide and continues to collaborate with his long time mentor Hermeto Pascoal as the music director of the Hermeto Pascoal Big Band. He is a member of the IAJE, Chamber Music America, NARAS, LARAS and the Seattle Composers Alliance.