sweet

Ursa Minor Announces New Release & Show

Fronted and founded by New York singer/writer Michelle Casillas, Ursa Minor has become a mainstay in NYC’s indie rock scene. The band delivers a timeless mix of vocal driven pop-rock with a primal rhythmic undercurrent; sharp and urban, broad and free.
Ursa Minor’s debut LP Silent Moving Picture was released by Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, on Smells Like Records. It was a deep and darker picture, slow bumps in the night and big spaces, featuring Casillas’ swampy electric piano and shuddering vocals. Ursa Minor is a band of improvisers, grown from downtown roots. Over many years of live performances and writing, they have pursued their artistic bent without compromise, and coincidentally become a source of naturally catching melodies and themes of a broader life.
From Beaconpass: “This Spring will see the arrival of Ursa Minor’s follow up, SHOWFACE.  The sound is often bigger, louder, more pugnacious: this is the sound of a band playing whatever turns them on. Live, Ursa Minor has been known to take the Violent Femmes' sweet ballad "Please Do Not Go" and turn it into a smoldering reggae slow jam, somewhere between Blondie's version of "The Tide is High" and Patti Smith's "Birdland."  Singer Michelle Casillas and her band can wring every drop of feeling out of a song, whether it's loud or lowdown, sweet or seething.” Many of their peers, some of New York’s most celebrated innovators, are often spotted at their shows, including Norah Jones, Marc Ribot, Joan As Police Woman, and Bill Frisell.
SHOWFACE (Anthemusa Records) was produced by Tony Scherr (Bill Frisell, SexMob, Norah Jones, Lounge Lizards, Feist), who is also featured on guitar. Bass whiz Rob Jost (Imogen Heap, Bjork) and NY heavy hitter Robert DiPietro (Norah Jones, Josh Rouse) equally create the sound, contribute songs of great depth and strength, and sing harmony. Special guests include Chris Brown (Joan As Police Woman, Barenaked Ladies, Abrams Brothers) on organ, and Jim Campilongo (Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson) and Teddy Kumpel (Rickie Lee Jones) on guitars.
Ursa Minor kicks off their new release, SHOWFACE, at NYC’s Joe's Pub, Tuesday, May 24th at 7:30pm!

Golden Dogs Announce Spring Tour Dates, To Play SXSW

At the end of a hard year of touring in support of their second album ‘Big Eye Little Eye’, which took them by way of Britain and Germany, straight across the USA sharing stages with Canadian luminaries like Feist and Sloan, those who witnessed its fury likely had no inkling it was the end of a chapter for the band. The long awaited homecoming was bittersweet; there were big changes on the horizon. For starters, the band had been released from their record contract; a contract they had been locked into for years that now left them 100% in control of their business affairs. In another twist of fate, their long time bass player, Stew Heyduk, decided to leave the country and get married in Hawaii. Within weeks of being at home and somewhat directionless, the question began looming: “What now?” While there are always songs brewing on lead man Dave Azzolini’s hot plate, the idea of going straight into recording another album wasn’t an attractive one. They needed a break from being Golden Dogs.

Without trying to force movement into the intimidating ‘next album’ phase, the couple began spending more time hanging at a little garage studio on Toronto’s east side, operated by their good friends Carlin Nicholson & Mike O’Brien - this duo now known as Zeus. The whole crew had a lot of fun just writing and recording tunes they had written and while Nicholson honed his engineering chops, everyone nurtured and developed their production skills. As well, the studio was a very welcome place for other musician friends to pop by. Friends like Neil Quin (ex-Golden Dog/future Zeus member) and Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) who ended up playing a solo on the Golden Dogs album as a return favor for Azzolini playing piano on one of the Bahamas tracks he recorded there.

The spirit was described by Azzolini: “It was very much a ‘best idea wins’ situation and the songwriter always had final veto power. It made for a very comfortable environment to make music. It was just musicians getting together to bounce ideas off each other.” This was a great time to forget about being in a band, and to just get back to playing music for it’s own sake, with a group of friends riding the same wave and just soaking in the energy of the studio. The result is titled Coat of Arms, and it brilliantly displays the musical union Azzolini, Grassia, Knox and company have found with each other, and the band seems to be more confident and commanding than ever before. One marvels at the way they can seem playful and sweet on a track like LESTER, yet terrifyingly savage on BURST or DARKROOM.

The most obvious and wonderful difference this time around is that Ms. Grassia takes a giant leap forward and can be heard taking the lead on almost half the album with a range spanning from sweet & psychedelic (UNDERWATER GOLDMINE) to seductive (AS LONG AS YOU LIKE) to furious pop madness on songs like WHEN THE MOVIE’S OVER, and CHEAP UMBRELLAS. Her vocal performances while drumming (AS LONG AS YOU LIKE and LESTER) is quickly becoming a Golden Dogs secret weapon and quite an impressive element to their live shows.

What now? Coat of Arms will be released on Dine Alone April 26th 2011. Feeling up-beat and optimistic about the new direction, Azzolini boasts that “the versatility of this new line up opens up a whole new world of possibilities for Golden Dogs live shows and the future of our recordings…there are so many directions we can go…and we’re going to try all of them.”

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Golden Dogs tour dates:

Mar 17: SXSW @ Hole in the wall (day party)\

Mar 19: SXSW @ Paradise on 6th

Mar 22:  Portland @ Wonder Ballroom**
Mar 23: Seattle @ Showbox**
Mar 24: Vancouver @ Biltmore**
Mar 26: Missoula, MT @ Wilma Theatre**
Mar 27: Jackson, WY @ Q Roadhouse**
Mar 29: Ames, IA @ The Maintenance Shop**
Mar 30: Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room**
Mar 31: Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theatre **
Apr 1: Madison, WI @ The Majestic**
Apr 2: Chicago, IL @ The Vic**
Apr 3: Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls**
** w/ State Radio

“Dear Nola: A Concert for New Orleans”

New Orleans brass-fueled sensations Bonerama team up with Cody ChesnuTT, DJ Spooky/That Subliminal Kid, Grammy Nominated Helen Bruner + Terry Jones, Jenny Toomey & Kristin Thomson of Tsunami, M1 of Dead Prez, Mirah, Sage Francis, Shawn King of Devotchka, Sunpie Barnes and Zach Rogue to celebrate New Orleans, her community and its musical ambassadors for “Dear NOLA: a Concert for New Orleans,” at Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen Street) on Thursday, February 17th.

Doors are at 9:00 pm and admission is $10 in advance and can be purchased online at the Blue Nile website; $15 at the door.

Proceeds from the concert — the seventh since Hurricane Katrina — benefit Sweet Home New Orleans and Gulf Restoration Network, two New Orleans-based nonprofits working to support and sustain the region’s unique musical and cultural traditions and to protect and restore vital environment and community resources for future generations. The show serves as the celebratory finale of the seventh three-day activist retreat hosted by Air Traffic Control and Future of Music Coalition.

Over the years, these shows have become a tradition and bring visiting musicians together with local musicians to present these talented artists both on their own and in unique combinations. Past shows have included performances with J. Tillman and Nicole Atkins backing Will Oldham, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills and Bonerama joining Corin Tucker on a Depeche Mode cover, and Wayne Kramer and Saul Williams partnering to perform “Kick Out The Jams.” The camaraderie established continues well after participants have left the city, as evidenced by the critically-acclaimed compilation, Dear New Orleans. The album was produced by Air Traffic Control to mark the 5-year anniversary of the floods and features 31 New Orleans-inspired tracks from retreat alumni. The compilation can be purchased at http://www.dearno.la.

Air Traffic Control and Future of Music Coalition have been co-hosting a series of artist activism retreats in New Orleans since 2006. Artists are given the rare opportunity to connect directly with the people of New Orleans, the tradition bearers and community leaders who are on the frontlines of rebuilding and sustaining this vital city. After the three-day retreat, artists leave feeling that their lives have been changed by what they have experienced in New Orleans and with a sense of empowerment for what they can accomplish through their music and activism.

“New Orleans is one of the most unique cities on the planet and a place where I have had the good fortune to spend time both as a musician and an activist. The artist-activist retreat provided valuable perspective and insight into a post-Katrina New Orleans. My experiences with local musicians and the people working for the recovery and betterment of the city have been some of the most important experiences of my career." -- Tom Morello.

Past retreat and concert participants include Steve Earle, Tom Morello, Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Boots Riley (The Coup) Nicole Atkins, Damian Kulash (OK Go), Erin McKeown, Nick Harmer (Death Cab for Cutie), Wayne Kramer (MC5), Martín Perna (Antibalas, Ocote Soul Sounds), Jim James and Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket), Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Brothers), Vijay Iyer, and many, many more.

The efforts of many groups and individuals — including Sweet Home New Orleans, Future of Music Coalition and Air Traffic Control — have had a major impact on Big Easy musicians like Mardis Gras legend Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. Funds raised by retreat participants helped Al buy a new Habitat for Humanity home after having lost his property and belongings in Hurricane Katrina. The concerts and the retreats are part of an ongoing commitment to helping musicians like Al get back to their communities where they will help sustain New Orleans music and culture for generations to come.

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About Sweet Home New Orleans

Sweet Home New Orleans is a nonprofit agency that offers social services and financial assistance to the city’s musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, and Social Aid and Pleasure Club members.

About Gulf Restoration Network

Gulf Restoration Network is a 16 year-old environmental group committed to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Since the storms of 2005, they have worked for a national commitment to the restoration of the coastal wetlands of Louisiana, the region’s natural storm protection, which are disappearing at the rate of an acre an hour. The BP drilling disaster has greatly increased threats to this ecosystem, and GRN has provided independent monitoring and advocacy since the first days of the disaster.

About Future of Music Coalition

Future of Music Coalition is a national non-profit education, research and advocacy organization that seeks a bright future for creators and listeners. FMC works towards this goal through continuous interaction with its primary constituency — musicians — and in collaboration with other creator/public interest groups.

About Air Traffic Control

Air Traffic Control (ATC) exists to help musicians play an effective, unique and vital role in the promotion of social justice. Musicians and managers established ATC five years ago to assemble an experienced and trusted team of leaders, resources and tools that would help them to create more effective social change collaborations with each other and with social justice organizations. As a result, ATC became an artists’ air traffic control—one that develops capacity, efficiency, and coordination to produce stronger and more creative social change partnerships.

Sweet Honey In The Rock at the Boulder Theater

Founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973 at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company, Sweet Honey In The Rock, internationally renowned a cappella ensemble, has been a vital and innovative presence in the music culture of Washington, D.C., and in communities of conscience around the world.

From Psalm 81:16 comes the promise to a people of being fed by honey out of the rock. Honey - an ancient substance, sweet and nurturing. Rock - an elemental strength, enduring the winds of time. The metaphor of sweet honey in the rock captures completely these African American women whose repertoire is steeped in the sacred music of the Black church, the clarion calls of the civil rights movement, and songs of the struggle for justice everywhere.

Rooted in a deeply held commitment to create music out of the rich textures of African American legacy and traditions, Sweet Honey In The Rock possesses a stunning vocal prowess that captures the complex sounds of Blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, Hip Hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation. Sweet Honey's collective voice, occasionally accompanied by hand percussion instruments, produces a sound filled with soulful harmonies and intricate rhythms.

In the best and in the hardest of times, Sweet Honey In The Rock has come in song to communities across the U.S., and around the world raising her voice in hope, love, justice, peace, and resistance. Sweet Honey invites her audiences to open their minds and hearts and think about who we are and how we treat each other, our fellow creatures who share this planet, and of course, the planet itself.

The 2008-2009 season finds Sweet Honey celebrating her 35th birthday. What a year it has been and what a year it will be!

Sweet Honey's latest release, Experience...101 was a 2008 Grammy Award nominee. After attending the awards ceremony in Los Angeles, and walking the red carpet, the group summed up the experience in one word: amazing. The excitement continued as Sweet Honey was asked to compose new material in celebration of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater's 50th anniversary. Together these two artistic treasures of the African American experience are performing this once-in-a-lifetime collaboration throughout the United States.

Sweet Honey In The Rock is Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Shirley Childress Saxton.

More Info / Buy Tickets

Kristy Lee in the Bowery | 12/2/2010

Not to be confused with American Idol’s Kristy Lee Cook, Kristy Lee says she’s the real deal. Indeed, she is.

Smashing Pumpkins new single "Spangled"

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS are issuing a brand new track “Spangled” Tuesday, September 14, available exclusively as a free download for 24 hours through the website for The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund: www.sweetrelief.org. Spangled” will then become available the next day (Wednesday, September 15) at www.smashingpumpkins.com where a widget is also offered that enables fans to host the song anywhere on the web. “It’s just a pretty song,” says BILLY CORGAN of “Spangled,” which marks the sixth release from the band’s in-progress 44-song project TEARGARDEN BY KALEIDYSCOPE. It is the second song (the recently released “Freak” was the first) from what will be the band’s second EP--TEARGARDEN BY KALEIDYSCOPE VOLUME 2: THE SOLSTICE BARE --tied to this project.

When visitors go to the Sweet Relief website, they’ll be encouraged to donate to the organization, although it is not a requirement to contribute money when freely downloading the song. The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.  Visitors to the site who donate $10.00 (or more) to the Sweet Musicians Relief Fund can also enter a raffle to win a Fender “Billy Corgan Stratocaster” custom guitar that will be signed by the musician.

The Pumpkins recently raised over $80,000 at their sold-out benefit concert Tuesday, July 27 at Chicago’s Metro for Matthew Leone, bassist for Chicago band Madina Lake. The money is going to the Matthew Leone Fund at Sweet Relief and is helping to pay for the ongoing medical care needed for the musician who this past June was hospitalized with severe brain trauma after intervening to stop a woman he passed on the street from being beaten by her husband.

In touring news, the band--singer/guitarist BILLY CORGAN, guitarist JEFF SCHROEDER, drummer MIKE BYRNE and bassist NICOLE FIORENTINO--have announced they will return to Australia this October for shows in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. They will also head to South America in November for shows in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru.

Here are band’s in progress- tour dates:

Tue      Sept 14            Spokane, WA                          Knitting Factory

Thu      Sept 16            Boise, ID                                 Knitting Factory

Fri        Sept 17            Salt Lake City, UT                   In the Venue

Sat       Sept 18            Denver, CO                             Comfort Dental Amphitheatre

Mon     Sept 20            Austin, TX                                Stubb’s Waller Creek Ampihitheatre

Tue      Sept 21            Houston, TX                            Warehouse Live

Wed    Sept 22            Dallas, TX                               Palladium Ballroom

Fri        Sept 24            Tulsa, OK                                Cain’s Ballroom

Sat       Sept 25            Kansas City, KS                     Capital Federal Park at Sandstone

Fri        Oct 8               Jakarta, Indonesia                   Java Rockin Land Festival/Carnaval

Tue      Oct12              Perth, AU                                 Riverside Theatre

Wed    Oct 13             Adelaide, AU                            Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Fri        Oct 15             Melbourne, AU                     Festival Hall

Sat       Oct 16             Sydney, AU                             Big Top

Sun      Oct 17             Brisbane, AU                           The Tivoli

Thu      Nov 18             Buenos Aires, Argentina         Luna Park

Sat       Nov 20             Sao Paulo, Brazil                    Planeta Terra Festival

Tue      Nov 23             Santiago, Chile                        Arena Movistar

Thu      Nov 25             Lima, Peru                              Lima Hot Festival

Marton Sexton readies new album 'Sugarcoating'

Sugarcoating, Martin Sexton’s new album due out April 6, 2010, finds the one-of-a-kind artist doing what he does best: locating larger truths within specific details of the life he’s living. “I write from personal experience — my own hang-ups and quirks, good times and bad times. That keeps it real.”

The Syracuse-born artist tracked Sugarcoating live off the floor in seven days with a remarkably cohesive studio band composed of what Sexton describes as “amazing players, the best you could find.”

“Each song is so stylistically different from the next,” adds Sexton, “I’ve always preferred records that range, sort of like the White Album, from ‘Black Bird’ to ‘Helter Skelter.’ At one time, industry types tried to convince me to stick with one genre, but it was like wearing a suit that didn’t fit.”

“I recorded this album with no rehearsals, no pre-production, using all vintage gear from what went into the mics to what came out on the analog tape . . . I like making records like the old jazz guys did — they just showed up and worked it out.”

The title track, disturbing in its theme and audacious in its presentation, takes “keeping it real” to another level. An unsettling look at post-9/11 reality, the song encapsulates in the lines “I wonder why nobody wonders why/with all the sweet sweet sweet sugarcoating/the nightly news gone entertainment biz/and politicians out showboatin’/One day somebody tell it like it is.” Which is exactly what Sexton accomplishes here. The fact that this urgent message is embedded in a danceable, happy-go-lucky arrangement complete with backing vocals by what Sexton calls his “cowboy trio” only serves to deepen the song’s impact.

Other songs on Sugarcoating include “Long Haul,” a Bakersfield-rooted, bluesy, earth-toned shuffle that celebrates the unparalleled richness of a long-term relationship; “Shane,” in which Sexton imagines the experiences awaiting his infant son; “Found,” which asserts that our wired existence drowns out our ability to see others clearly; and “Always Get Away,” a lament about missed opportunities and unforeseen circumstances. Sexton says, “It’s about forgiveness — forgiving oneself the mistakes you’ve made in the past. It’s about knowing who I am and who I’m not, and about having a conscious contact with my inner voice and my higher power.”

Not every song is heavy. The first single, “Livin’ the Life,” is a buoyant joy-of-existence piece with a churning clavinet burrowing a deep soul groove right through it.  “Stick Around” is a piano-driven Beatlesque bouncer complete with an Abbey Road reference in the lyric; and “Easy on the Eyes” is a finger-snapping, ragtime mating call with a voice trumpet solo from Sexton.

It’s Sexton’s uncanny ability to connect the personal to the universal via songs like these that has earned him such a devoted following among fans and critics alike. The New York Times’ Jon Pareles wrote that the artist “jumps beyond standard fare on the strength of his voice, a blue-eyed soul man’s supple instrument . . . his unpretentious heartiness helps him focus on every soul singer’s goal: to amplify the sound of an ordinary heart.” He’s also renowned among his peers. John Mayer calls him “one of the greatest singers of our generation.”

With Sugarcoating, Sexton may well have made his defining record. It’s an unquestionable high point for the modern troubadour who headlines venues from the Fillmore Auditorium to Nokia Theater Times Square, oversees his KTR label and derives great satisfaction from the life he’s made for himself. These are the fruits of a combination of rarefied talent, fierce determination, “and work — showin’ up,” he adds, sounding like Jeff Bridges’ Bad Blake character in Crazy Heart: “I sing for free man. I get paid to travel.”

Sexton will tour North America with a new band April through June in support of the release.

Track listing
1. Found
2. Boom Sh-Boom
3. Always Got Away
4. Livin the Life
5. Sugarcoating
6. Stick Around
7.  Long Haul
8.  Shane
9.  Wants Out
10. Friends Again
11. Easy on the Eyes
12. Alone 13. Just To Be Alive

Brazilian Trio CD Release Party Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25th at Sweet Rhythm

Brazilian Trio- for the Grateful Web

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