What The Critics Are Saying:
This trio is known for its samba jazz, and, indeed, "Forests" has an overarching vibe that's as chilled and elegant as a Jobim samba. In fact, Helio Alves (piano), Duduka Da Fonseca (drums) and Nilson Matta (bass) display a great deal more breadth in their performances than simply cruising in the samba groove. On "Montreux," they evoke a lovely, impressionistic feel in their measured approach. Their take on Milton Nascimento's "Vera Cruz" has a grandness that's nearly cinematic, particularly Alves' busy, articulate opening solo. Again bringing its skills to bear on a Nascimento tune, "Tarde," Alves plays with a gravity and a stylistic flair that's truly impressive. — Philip Van
Vleck Billboard Magazine
The Brazilian Trio consists of three Brazilian-born musicians who left their native land to expand their musical horizons in New York. Pianist Helio Alves has recorded extensively as a leader, while bassist Nilsson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca make up two thirds of the group Trio da Paz. The band is not a typical piano/bass/drums trio, but an interactive group with all members contributing to the arrangements. - Ken Dryden Allmusic.com
They explore gems by Milton Nascimento (including a shimmering, reflective rendition of "Tarde" and a driving romp through "Vera Cruz"), along with a breezy take of Ivan Lins' "Amor." Their originals, which make up half of the CD, are just as potent. Alves' sauntering samba "Ubatuba," Matta's "Forests" conveys both the beauty of Brazilian wilderness and the tense daily battle for survival among its inhabitants. Da Fonseca's easygoing, lyrical "Flying Over Rio" is also noteworthy.
A classical trio with a decidedly Brazilian flavor, Brazilian Trio presents a program containing a taste of the Brazilian repertoire along with original pieces that demonstrate the group's diversity and commitment to today's contemporary jazz sounds. The three New York-based musicians from Brazil, pianist Helio Alves, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, produce enough sophisticated modern jazz rhythms here that it would be incorrect to label this album as a Brazilian genre recording. This is contemporary straight ahead jazz with a slight Brazilian slant.
The program begins with one of the best by borrowing the Ivan Lins composition "Amor," and presenting the piece in a vibrant form as Alves lays down fabulous piano lines and Da Fonseca taps the cymbals throughout. The Album is dedicated to the Brazilian forests and with that in mind the title tune ("Forests") begins with the sounds of birds and other wildlife, is introduced by light piano lines and then powers up and moves quickly. Alves presents excellent jazzy grooves on his original "Samba Alegre" giving the bassist and drummer nice solo portions.
The trio plays a beautiful light ballad with Hermeto Pascoal's largely ignored "Montreux" in an attempt to give it new life and with this rendition, they do indeed provide the spark. Drummer Da Fonseca's only original here is a dandy. The brief but bossa colored "Flying Over Rio" has the drummer on the brushes on a warm cushy piece of music. The repertoire includes a couple of Milton Nascimento tunes with the soft "Tarde," and his classic composition of "Vera Cruz," a common closer for most samba jazz recordings, finishing with a marvelous performance from Alves.
I was thoroughly enthralled by "Forests" as it is not your typical piano trio recording. The three Brazilians play their hearts out with a fiery yet graceful performance of beautiful Brazilian and modern jazz music. - Edward Blanco Ejazznews
Ah, a great Brazilian take on the classic jazz trio format. A transplanted bunch of hard workers tilling the fields of the Big Apple serve up a lovely cross pollinated date that's sure to hit a nerve with jazzbos and samba fans. It's unembellished but it doesn't need bells and whistles to make it's point with anything other than great playing. In general, the piano trio has a fine history and this adds a great new leg to the format's legacy. Check it out. - CHRIS SPECTOR MIDWEST RECORD
This trio consists of three of Brazil's best jazz musicians with pianist Helio Alves, drummer Duduka Da Fonseca and Nilson Matta on bass. They are all based in New York but retain strong roots in Brazil. Each is a formidable jazz artist and they have successfully melded American jazz and samba for Forests. It is a combination of originals and Brazilian standards that will resonate with fans of both segments. Highlights are "Montreux", Alves dancing across the keys on "Pro Zeca" and "Vera Cruz". - D. Oscar Groomes O's Place Jazz Newsletter
This exciting recording is a perfect example of the thorough absorption of the Bossa Nova being integrated with the mainstream jazz piano trio. All three members of Brazilian Trio are, in fact, Brazilians but have lived in New York City for decades,settling in the 1970s, '80s and '90s.
Pianist Helio Alves is the youngest of the three, having worked with Oscar Castro-Neves, Rosa Passos and Paquito D'Rivera. His decidedly modal approach to piano jazz is undoubtedly a credit to the influence of Bill Evans.
Like Alves, bassist Nilson Matta hailed from Sao Paulo and has been a prolific musician seemingly appearing on scores of dates over the years. Drummer Duduka Da Fonseca relocated from Rio in 1970 and has been a vital part of the New York jazz scene ever since; at one time he was a part of the Don Pullen Afro-Brazilian Connection. His wife is Brazilian vocalist Maucha Adnet, who has established herself as a primary interpreter of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Da Fonseca and Matta form two-thirds of Trio Da Paz along with guitarist Romero Lubambo.
The music on Forests, while reflecting the pulse and passion of Brazil, is not really Bossa Nova or Samba. Rather, it represents a synthesis of those forms with the style of the American jazz trio. The tunes are redolent of the forests of Brazil, presented in a manner that moves the music into a new category.
Opening with Ivan Lins' lovely "Amor," featuring Alves' lyrical piano, the session moves into Matta's title tune, dedicated to the forests of the Earth and in particular the Amazon Rain Forest, with Da Fonseca offering some tasty brushwork. Milton Nascimento contributes "Tarde," a beautiful melody that is limned again by Alves' Bill Evans-style work. Hermeto Pascoal's "Montreux" is a hard-to-find and rarely recorded title that made its debut at the 1979 Montreux Jazz Festival. The album concludes with Nascimento's popular "Vera Cruz," a full blown jazz samba.
One significant observation about Brazilian Trio is that, despite its members' individual recording experiences, this is a fully interactive trio, bringing the distinctive touch of Brazil to a faraway studio. - Michael P. Gladstone Allaboutjazz.com
Forests marks the auspicious debut of the Brazilian Trio - pianist Helio Alves, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca - three musicians already well known in Brazilian jazz circles, having played with an impressive list of Latin icons, including Paquito D'Rivera, Rosa Passos and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
While the traditional piano trio format serves them well, the group's bicultural background takes the music deeper. All three hail from Brazil yet have made New York their home. Alves' improvising sounds like he absorbed the best of Bill Evans, Matta's bass playing is tasteful, supportive and, at the same time, stylistically unique and Da Fonseca's percussion work is nothing short of masterful.
The album is a mix of original compositions and tunes from Brazilian masters such as Milton Nascimento and Victor Assis Brasil. "Amor," the opening track by Ivan Lins, sets a mellow groove; "Samba Alegre," an Alves original, showcases the trio's seamless interplay and rhythmic chops and Nascimento's "Tarde" comes off like the musical embodiment of a sunset.
The skillful ensemble work of these musicians makes this recording particularly enjoyable. In their experienced hands, this collection of samba jazz originals and well-chosen classics is a great listen. - Karen Hogg All About Jazz NY