Antonio Adolfo creates captivating rhythms on “Jazz Samba Alley”


Pianist and arranger, Antonio Adolfo returns this year with another recording that explores the origins and complexity of Brazilian jazz. “Samba Jazz Alley” is an album replete with lush rhythms and hypnotic grooves. The recording is mostly an homage to the bossa nova revolution that gave rise to Brazilian samba jazz.

The songs on “Samba Jazz Alley” are a mix of original and tribute tracks. One of the originals is a song that is a must-listen: “Hello, Herbie.”

As a teenager, Rio de Janeiro native, Adolfo got involved with the bossa nova revolution that had captivated Brazil and the rest of the world.” Samba Jazz Alley” is the latest in a series of releaaes by Adolfo that the musician has used to explore a wide-range of Brazilian music.

“Samba Alley” is a real place – – an obscure, dead- end alley where would-be musicians and singers would hone their craft much to the annoyance of residents in the area who would pelt the performers with bottles. This happened so often that the area had a second name, Beco des Garrafas, or Bottles Alley. The area’s bar became known for presenting an impressive roster of talent. Adolfo recalls that it is “impossible to know how many tunes that became standard were first performed there.”

The 1960s scene sounds like the description of a film in which highly creative and talented people pursue their art in less-than- glamorous places. Adolfo captures that determined approach to jazz on “Samba Jazz Alley.” There is a gentle persistence to each track, giving each song a purpose and place on the album.

The sound of “Samba Alley” by Antonio Adolfo

With nine tracks, “Samba Alley” provides a range of moods. Each song offers a rich sound that includes Adolfo’s expressive playing. One of the standout tracks on “Samba Jazz Alley” is “Hello, Herbie,” a tribute to Herbie Hancock.

“Hello, Herbie”  begins with a moody and slow motif that involves bass and piano. Soon, horns join in, and their mix of long notes and fast, short bursts in a showcase adds texture. Even during the horn showcase, the piano begins playing intense notes in the back of the soundscape. That gets more intense as the entire soundscape makes way and changes course for the guitar showcase. That showcase is created with delicate and open-sounding notes. Percussion comes into the fore, while horns play their long lines, the piano tinkles with purpose, and the bass rumbles gracefully.

Altogether, “Hello, Herbie” is well-crafted. Each portion of the song sounds worthy of audiences’  attention, and listeners are more than willing to hear where each part of the song links to another part.

On “Samba Jazz Alley,” Adolfo plays witb world-claas musicians, including a muscular horn section and a vivid rhythm section. All work to help Adolfo keep the traditions of Brazilian music alive.

“Samba Jazz Alley” is set for release July 29, 2019.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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