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Brazil’s Smooth Observer


Brazil's Smooth Observer

André Vasconcellos’s
Observatório is a fresh album,
which should have a certain amount of
cross-over appeal
and one which should appeal to the smooth jazz and
fusion fans as opposed to the
die-hard contemporaries.
When André plays each track is often like a journey.

by:
Wes
Gillespie

Observatório – André Vasconcellos

Released through the innovative Brazilian label Visom, André Vasconcellos is a new face on the block for me
and immediately there is a striking resemblance of a funky Stanley Clarke, but André is much more than that, he is also
an accomplished keyboard and synth programmer.

His fretless bass playing is sometimes like Jaco Pastorius and sometimes like the slapping Nathan East or Alphonso
Johnson. Like his peers he displays a warm assurance when playing melody on the bass, which is most effective on the quieter
more, melodic tracks like the laid back "Didi Prelude #2," "Angela" ( so reminiscent of Jaco Pastorius ) and "4 Miller."

This funk / jazz fusion  was evident so much in the fusion era of the early eighties with Herbie Hancock, Stanley
Clarke, George Duke, Incognito, Surface Noise and Rodney Franklin. all playing this kind of groove, but Andre adds a new
dimension with a Latin flavor spicing up some of the cuts like "Bossa 2002," a
boss- rhythmed gem with a hint of Eumir
Deodato’s excellent "Love Island" track from the late 70’s, here a mellow Fender Rhodes piano, played by Renato Vasconcellos,
exchanges dialogue with André playing fretless bass once again, this tracks moves on with a flugelhorn interlude and a wonderful
nylon guitar solo from Daniel Santiago, the samba beat is straight from Carnaval in Rio, definitely the album’s best and most
clever cut.

When André plays, each note hangs in the air with his bass sustain especially when playing fretless bass and each
track is often like a journey with other beats and rhythms offering subtle nuisances and the `double-take’ on "Angela" is
particularly clever with André playing lead against a flow of bass chords, this has almost a reverent dedication to Marcus Miller for
whom an earlier track was dedicated on the album.

A `Seawind Horns’ type horn arrangement intro opens "MSPM" with Marcus Tani on vocals singing like a younger
Gilberto Gil with this mid-tempo groove, possibly more a cross-over to pop than jazz, but very listenable.

The title track "Observatório" has a wonderful Tom Browne sounding trumpet, muted at times played by Moisés
Alves in another laid-back groove with André playing a syncopated beat at times allowing Pedro Mamede on drums to
counterplay with him with a hard hitting snare-rim.

A fresh album which should have a certain amount of cross-over appeal and one which should appeal to the smooth
jazz and fusion fans as opposed to the die-hard contemporaries, but one I thoroughly enjoyed and well worth purchasing.

 

Wes Gillespie also writes reviews for All That
Jazz, The Brazilian Music Review, Sony Jazz
and hosts the Sony Jazz Europe website. He welcomes comments at
gwg@euroclubdejazz.com

 

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