Street Date 04/17/12
Debut releases that venture outside the norm of the more traditional western improvised music are normally feast or famine. Azul which is the debut release from Anne Sajdera, a long time and incredibly valuable member of the Bay area Brazilian music scene showcases a deft touch at the piano, a keen sense of melodic development and a textured rhythmic nuance adding a delightful sonic depth of field difficult to find on similar releases.
Sajdera works with her stellar trio of Gary Brown on bass and drummer Paul Van Wageningen with the end result an organic feast that attacks both the visceral and cerebral. The incomparable co-producer Ray Obiedo does a marvelous job adding his prolific talents. Azul includes original compositions as well as Brazilian and jazz standards with beautiful arrangements that allow each tune to develop with a natural ebb and flow. A song within a song.Opening with the somewhat bright and breezy "Rashid" there is delightful harmonic development as Paul Van Wageningen and master percussionist Airto Moreira add a subtle texture and energy to a tune that is so lyrically strong that they carefully avoid too much of a good thing. Sajdera shows cases her prolific talents at the piano bench and masterfully drives this sonic train to a most fitting conclusion. A uniquely personal release where tunes are specifically designed for the celebratory and the conciliatory as well. "If I Should Care" dials back the intensity but not the emotionally charged harmonic display and shifting meter that are infectious when couples with such a magnificent composition. A thoughtful piece which is highlighted with the syncopated nuances of percussionist Michael Spiro and drummer Paul Van Wageningen. Lyrical bassist Gary Brown also shows full well why his talents mesh so well with such a delightful trio. "Frevo" is a solo piano work, a ballad. Perhaps the most intoxicating tune in that the melody and the lyrical dynamics take center stage and not the artist. In this particular setting far too many pianists take advantage of the situation to then try and work the self indulgent high wire act and normally without a net with the end result almost consistently a sonic disaster.
While an important fixture on the Brazilian scene in the Bay area, Sajdera has managed to fuse the Brazilian with the more traditional western sound for a musical voice that is refreshing and uniquely her own. An absolutely stunning release.
Tracks: Rashid; Ana Maria; Azul; I Should Care; Love Dance; Sambinha; Frevo; Tema Em 3; Time Passes; Touch.