João Donato is next up for the Jazz is Dead series
Pianist and composer João Donato is considered amongst his peers as a genius of Brazilian music. At age 24, he was considered one of the best musicians in Rio de Janeiro. His explorative nature of the Bossa Nova music helped inspire many young musicians in his home country and around the world. Now, he has teamed up with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad on the seventh installment of the Jazz is Dead series. The album’s smooth transitions and complex harmonies allow listeners to really understand Donato’s genius.
Greg Paul takes the lead on the drums while Younge and Muhammed are on the remaining instruments. This remains throughout the project, which contributes to its overall cohesiveness. The opening track, “Não Negue Seu Coracão,” which translates to “Don’t Deny Your Heart,” is a lighthearted beat. It’s romantic and allows for Loren Oden’s vocals to melt over it. “Aquarius (Bring Her Back Home)” is scattered throughout with electric instruments and saxophones. The oohs lift the instruments, making them brighter and the track fuller. “Forever More” is more rhythmic than the previous tracks, really tracing back to a jazz feel. The melodies and complicated rhythms of each instrument provide listeners with so much to grasp at once. However, Oden’s soft vocals make the instruments less harsh.
“Sua Beleza e Beleza” kicks off right away with a drum kit pattern overwhelmed with snares and cymbals. A thick bass follows suit about 10 seconds in to oppose the light twinkle coming from the cymbal and snare. As the song progresses, more instruments find their way into the beat from Donato’s keyboard, electric synths and vocals. “Adrian, Ali and Gregory” is a bouncier track. Donato is really given the room to shine here with playful melodies. The descending and ascending notes leave the ear to take a journey through the polyrhythmic composition. “Conexão” ends the project. A fuzzier filter to some of the instruments gives the chaotic nature of the many rhythms to be toned down and cohesive. So much is happening, but it fits perfectly well.
Donato was known as someone who was hard to define. His music was so far out from the sounds that were happening in Brazil that he took them to the United States. Once his polyrhythmic sounds became popular in the States, he went back home to inspire countless others. With the help of Younge and Muhammad, Donato’s sound on João Donato JID007 is fun, fresh yet still true to the composer’s own music genre that he crafted himself.