In the sweltering North-Eastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco lies the coastal city of Recife, Amaro Freitas is pioneering the new sound of Brazilian jazz. From the Afro-Brazilian maracatu born on the sugar plantations of slavery, to the high intensity carnival rhythms of frevo and baião, the young pianist's heavily percussive approach to jazz is as indebted to these Pernambuco traditions as it is to Coltrane, Parker, and Monk. As with many of the greats before him, Amaro began playing piano in church aged 12, under the instruction of his father, leader of the church band. He won a place at the prestigious Conservatório Pernambucano de Música but had to drop out as his family could not spare the money for the bus fare. Undeterred, Amaro gigged in bands at weddings and worked in a call center to fund his tuition.
The transformative moment came at age 15 when Amaro stumbled across a DVD of Chick Corea concert. Despite not actually owning a piano, Amaro devoted himself to studying day and night. By the age of 22 Amaro was one of the most sought-after musicians in Recife and resident pianist at the legendary jazz bar, Mingus. He met and begun collaborating with bassist Jean Elton and the found drummer Hugo Medeiros. The Amaro Freitas Trio was born.
"I want to show the simplicity of music, to break the stigma that the piano is for a particular social class." Following his critically acclaimed debut album Sangue Negro ("Black Blood"), the title of his sophomore release Rasif is a colloquial spelling of Amaro's home town. A love letter to his native northeast, Amaro explores it's traditional rhythms through the jazz idiom, employing complex mathematical patterns reminiscent of some of the most challenging works by fellow Brazilian masters Hermeto Pascoal, Egberto Gismonti, and Moacir Santos. "Dona Eni" is a scorching reconstruction of the baião rhythmic structure, played in seven measures instead of two. Title track "Rasif" is a serene homage to the coastal reef and it's ecosystems. "Aurora" is a suite of three parts, representing the sun's journey from the light and soft of the rise.
Personnel: Amaro Freitas - piano; Hugo Medeiros - drums and percussion; Jean Elton - double bass; Henrique Albino - baritone sax, flutes, and clarinet.
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