The virtuosity and the playful wit of clarinetist Eddie Daniels, who is equally at home in classical music as he is in jazz and and who also stands his ground on the saxophone, is also beyond question on his album dedicated exclusively to compositions by Egberto Gismonti. The album stands out for its unique arrangements, which reinterpret, not to say smooth, the sometimes-rough fusion of different musical styles of Egberto Gismonti. Why not. Thus, the arrangements of the Gismonti titles are, as far as the instrumental accompanying band with the pianist Josh Nelson, the bassist Kevin Axe and the drummer Mauricio Zottarelli are concerned, although more or less far from Gismonti, at least skillfully peculiar. Why the arrangements, however, provide for strings throughout in the form of the Harlem Quartet is a matter of taste. And this is not because strings cannot be acceptable in jazz if they make a serious contribution to the compositions that goes beyond non-binding accompaniment on the level of providing pink clouds. And for exactly this purpose the strings on the album Heart of Brazil are unfortunately used in all too pleasing form. Rather problematic. It's therefore a good thing that the good string sound was usually recorded at a low level.
Nevertheless, the string substructure on Heart of Brazil is a matter of taste, especially since Egberto Gismonti had used strings in masses on his own album Circense from 1980. But not as non-binding as it is on Eddie Daniel's Heart of Brazil. If you manage to hide the strings from hearing or even better, if you like them, Egberto Gismonti is very taken with the arrangements of his compositions on Heart of Brazil, according to the booklet, you will enjoy this album thanks to the instrumental wealth of the clarinetist, whose playful wit carries you away with the lively first title "Lôro (Parrot)". Very South American and full of atmosphere, "Água e Vinho (Water and Wine)" features a short tenor saxophone intro by Eddie Daniels. "Ciranda (Folk Dance)" presents itself as a more pronounced playing field for the saxophone, which Daniels replaces quite wildly in Folia (Revelry)" with his beloved clarinet. The musicians go into "Maracatú (Sacred Rhythm)" with Afro-Brazilian cheer. In French Impressionism one finds oneself in "Adágio", before with "Tango Nova (New Tango)" one is tuned into the Romanian colored Cigana (Gypsy Woman) with typical South American swing. For "Trem Noturno (Night Train)" Eddie Daniels uses his saxophone for the last time, which he plays much more earthy than the clarinet, only to let Heart of Brazil fade away calmly with his fellow musicians.
Heart of Brazil is a fest for fans of the virtuoso, swinging clarinet playing for which Eddie Daniels has been successfully playing on the stages of the world for decades. His instrumental accompaniment band professionally provides the appropriate mood for the Gismonti arrangements and the Harlem Quartet decorates the arrangements with a string sound that however takes getting used to.
Eddie Daniels, clarinet, tenor saxophone
Josh Nelson, piano
Kevin Axt, bass
Mauricio Zottarelli, drums
Ilmar Gavilán, violin
Melissa White, violin
Jamey Amador, viola
Felix Umansky, cello