Street date 04/03/2012
Sometimes the cover art is the only redeeming savior to an otherwise poorly planned release that seems to concentrate on style or vibe more so than substance.
Not here. Enter New World Beat.
After Carnival is a deceptively organic spin on playful melodies, infectious harmonic development all wrapped around the Brazilian jazz sensibilities and world rhythms of vibraphonist/composer Richard Sprince. In addition to a rock solid performance, Sprince pulls off the jazz hat trick of producer, composer and arranger with flawless precision. Nine original compositions and two well executed Pat Metheny covers work in a most cohesive fashion to reinforce a release built around texture and groove more so than the plastic pink flamingo sounds attempted by similar artists.
Artistic frames of reference are dangerous in the hands of an amateur but Sprince refers to the musical direction of the release as containing elements of Pat Metheny, Milton Nascimiento and perhaps a little Return To Forever "light." A conceptualized project by intent the opening "Beyond The Clouds" is an uptempo number with a lyrical driven sense of purpose. The subtle percussive nuances which are oddly reminiscent of some early Spyro Gyra add great depth and character while Matt Vashlishan's soprano work add just the right flavor to set the table for the musical feast that is offered up. The Pat Metheny classic "Last Train Home" could easily spell sonic disaster but is instead reinvented with a fresh contemporary spin. To cover a well known Metheny classic without disrespecting the original or yourself is the sign of a true artist. A far more open and expansive sound while slowing the tempo can allow the listener to take their own sonic journey. "It's Not Far" works into an infectious bossa nova groove and a delightful double time samba bridge while exploring a deep rich sonic color pallet. A chance for the ensemble to stretch their improvisational wings finds guitarist Tom Lippincott, bassist Diogo Oliviera Brown and vibraphonist Sprince in top form.
There are numerous artists and group acts that have attempted to fuse Brazilian jazz with world music in the hopes of coming up with a more inventive hybrid than what has been currently available. The end result of most efforts similar to After Carnival have been nothing more than a sterile collection of what can best be described as "pretty sounds."
After Carnival is a well thought out and magnificently executed look at the possibilities when Brazilian jazz and world music collide in the hands of artists that are well versed in the sonic potential that is put before them. I would dial back the vocals just a touch but otherwise a release that Brazilian and world music fans should flock to. A release of depth, texture and an ambient feel that transcends the electronic, After Carnival is a multi-cultural feast for the senses!
Tracks: Beyond The Clouds; On My Way; The Dance Has Just Begun; After Carnival; Partido Alto; Song For Brazil; Last Train Home; Adios, Buenos Aires; Fantasia De Carnaval; It's Not Far; Sueno Con Mexico.
Personnel: Richard Sprince: vibraphone; Matt Vashlishan: soprano & alto sxes, ewi; Tom Lippincott: 8-string guitar; Tony Cruz & Terezinha Valois: vocals; Cezar Santana: nylon string guitar; Diogo Oliviera Brown: fretless bass; Goran Rista: drums; Dwili Dewongy: percussion; Jorge Pardo: flute solo "Song For Brazil." Gary Damanti: guitar solo "The Dance Has Begun." Alejandro Pino-Sprince: tag vocal "Last Train Home."