Label: Red Piano Records, 2018
Personnel – Dan Blake: tenor and soprano saxophones; Nando Michelin: fender rhodes; Jay Anderson: bass; Rogério Boccato: drums, percussion.
Knowing the rhythmic skills of New York-based Brazilian percussionist Rogerio Boccato, it comes as no surprise that he has become one of the busiest sidemen on the scene. Recording/gigging with big names such as Maria Schneider, Kenny Garrett, John Patitucci, and Fred Hersch allowed him to mature as a musician and further develop his inspired pulses and rhythmic accents.
For his debut record, No Old Rain, Boccato sought inspiration in the music of four indisputable Brazilian masters - Milton Nascimento, Toninho Horta, Egberto Gismonti, and Edu Lobo, infusing his personal touch with the help of virtuosic saxophonist Dan Blake, bright keyboardist Nando Michelin, and veteran bassist with a silky-tone, Jay Anderson.
The quartet opens with two gems by Milton Nascimento, the first of which, “Cais”, is cooked up with rich keyboard voicings and a restless drumming that contrasts with the delicacy of Blake’s soothing lines and the sobriety of Anderson’s sparse pizzicato. Although tension is not an uncommon factor here, emerging mostly from Blake’s melodic ideas and Michelin’s bossa-like accompaniment by the end, there is always lots of space that opens the door to a comforting spirituality. This aspect is reinforced on “Clube da Esquina Nr. 2”, a moving statement whose relaxed atmosphere never dissipates candidness.
The rendition of Gismonti’s “Tango” shows the band exploring more outside the lines, providing a simpatico Hancockian backdrop for Blakes’ soprano escapades, which slightly trespasses avant-garde zones.
The introductory bass roams that launch Horta’s “Bicycle Ride” leads to soaring sax melodies, yet, the tune passes through a steamy phase before returning to that straight-from-the-shoulder languidness.
“Cravo e Canela" is delivered in six, serving well the motivic, folk-ish drives from Blake. He is a colorist whose improvisations can be neatly articulated, remarkably angular, and in-your-face. The final moments expand the melodic suggestion made in the beginning and adjust the new tempo to 6+8.
Respecting the contexts and moods in which the songs are immersed in, the instrumentalists never let their music sound gratuitous or offbeat. This aspect is verified again on Lobo’s “Canto Triste”, a beautiful, hair-raising melancholic tune, crisply arranged with some noir Laswell-like drones, scintillating organ spell, subdued percussion, and poignant saxophone moans and ululations. Contrasting with this posture, there is Horta’s “Viver de Amor”, skillfully transformed into an ear-grasping fusion of post-bop and smooth funk, and Milton’s wistful “Morro Velho”.
Boccato is a versed stylist of the rhythm, who generously works for the collective. The tunes on No Old Rain take a flow of their own, suggesting stories through the sonic canvas that mirror the quartet’s extraordinary rapport and sensitivity, regardless the pace or dynamics. I hope this is the first of many records to come.
02 - Clube da Esquina Nr. 2 ► 07 - Canto Triste ► 09 – Viver De Amor