Wednesday, June 2, 2010
ROW: Quarteto Novo (Odeon/EMI)
Decked out in crisply-pressed suits and ties, the foursome on this influential album has the look and exterior demeanor of a stuffy chamber quartet. Their vibrant and variable music speaks a completely different story. Fusing indigenous Northeastern Brazilian rhythms to a bop-grounded conception of melody and harmony, guitarists Theo de Barros and Heraldo do Monte joined percussionist Airto Moriera and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal in divining something new. Bossa Nova is a close cousin, but this music has its own distinct pedigree. Pascoal’s boisterous dancing flute spices up tunes like “O vo” and “Fica mal Com Deus” as Moriera bangs out bracingly dissonant rhythms and coarse textures in striking contrast to the steady calming strum of the twining guitars. Later tracks have a more prevalent jazz feel, distantly echoing the earlier collaborations between Bola Sete and Vince Guaraldi but with an added punch relayed through Moriera’s dynamic drumming. The album catapulted he and Pascoal into the vanguard of Brazilian popular music, eventually garnering the notice of Miles who co-opted them both into his early 70s electric bands. Brief at little more than EP length, this set is undeniably sweet and an excellent soundtrack for properly ringing in summer.