On “Nu Brasil” guitarist Sergio Pereira is joined by a host of performers to craft new sounds. Pereira’s latest album captures the soul of a culture that is found in the music of Brazil. The bossa nova and samba rhythms are the sounds of Brazil that listeners are familiar with. These sounds are created and augmented by the ensemble that Pereira has put together. He is joined by Alexey Leon on saxophone, Perico Sambeat on alto saxophone, Oriente Lopez on flute, Voro Garcia on trumpet, Marcus Teixeira on electric guitar, Baptiste Bailly on pianist, Ales Cesarini and Ariel Ramirez on bass, Gabriel Grossi on harmonica and Helio Alves on piano and Mauricio Zottarelli on drums. The assembled musicians hail from Brazil, Spain, and Cuba. They are joined by singers Paula Santoro, Sergio Santos, Viktorija Pilatovic amd rapper Devin Malloy.
The CD’s title is translated “Naked Brazil.” On the ten original songs that Pereira presents on “Nu Brasil” he attempts to show the truth and beauty of Brazil. According to Pereira, “I learned by growing up listening to samba rhythms and playing Brazilian percussion at a local school of samba.” Pereira, 59, is a native of Rio, but has lived in New York City for years.
The guitar player has fond memories of learning the distinctive samba rhythms that define Brazilian music. “Since I was a kid I have been always playing samba rhythm, making that ‘batucada’ rhythm with my hands and fingers at school until my teachers would tell me to ‘stop making that noise!’ I still do it all the time. It’s addictive.”
Pereira gets to use his samba addiction on “Nu Brasil.” It is his debut release for the ZOHO record label, but it is his sophomore effort. This latest release is the follow-up recording to his 2016 release “Swingando.”
On “Nu Brasil,” Pereira makes unexpected style turns. The opening track is rich with Brazilian sounds. But added to the high-energy, percussive mix is a rap interlude that almost blends in with the instrumentation. Another interesting song is “East River.”
“Down South” by Sergio Pereira
The “down south” of the title refers to Italy, not the American south. The horn-rich soundscape is heavily accented by percussion. The sounds are fulfilling and the momentum that the song creates never stops, never leaves room for listeners to feel a lag in the sound. It is a trip that audiences willingly get onboard with. There are a couple of aspects of the song that most listeners won’t expect. One is the saxophone solo that is surprising and enthralling. The other is the inclusion of rap. The rap’s lyrics describing the experience of failure in pursuit of dreams and how life will evolve and will pick up those who have fallen after having tried. The universal meaning will appeal to listeners who can keep up with the rapid-fire delivery.
“East River” by Sergio Pereira
The lush, moody opening is made of piano and remains gentle for several measures. Then, an acoustic guitar and what sounds like a violin are added in. The soundscape inspires thoughts, and evokes images of beaches and a slightly overcast sky. A group of singers performs vocalese over the slightly swinging drums and bass that fill the soundscape after the gentle and quiet opening. The song is Pereira’s reflection on the view from his Upper East Side neighborhood in Manhattan. “I frequently jog on the East Side by the East River and many times, after the jog, I just sit on a bench next to the 59th Street Bridge looking over Roosevelt Island and Long Island City,” he explains. “It’s very peaceful there with the nice breeze from the river, the sounds of boats going by and the FDR Drive humming with vehicles.” The violin sound is actually Pereira playing a nylon-string guitar. The song’s lowkey vibe is a pleasant surprise.
For a follow-up album on a new label, Pereira makes an impression on listeners with the confident approach that comes from having studied a chosen music genre for such a long time. Fans of Latin-infused jazz, and listeners who want to hear something different, “Nu Brasil” is the perfect album.