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Luiz Millan: Brazilian Match



Luiz Millan - Photo by Marilia Millan
Luiz Millan - Photo by Marilia Millan

There is something about the alchemy of Brasilian [the correct spelling of the nationality, by the way] character that dwells in an atmosphere of saudade [longing] and alegria [joy] the proportion of which is eminently fluid. This has shaped the tone and texture of Brasilian musicians and its music to such an extent that there is no music on earth quite like it. Taking the language of its colonists and softening it; even changing both viscosity and velocity of some alphabets, [especially] Brasilian vocalists have become a class apart.

Luiz Millan, like the great Brasilian bards – João Gilberto, Tom Jobim and Chico Buarque – is just that kind of musician, who captures this soft, gleaming ‘Brasilliance’ in both his music and his vocals. And now, Mr Millan, in partnership with Michel Freidenson has teamed up with the incomparable producer Arnaldo DeSouteiro to produce a sweeping epic of an album – Brazilian Match – that is evocative of everything this unique ‘Brasillance’ stands for in the grand manner.

Luiz Millan: Brazilian Match
Luiz Millan: Brazilian Match

Mr DeSouteiro’s a potent voice, a producer that recalls the very best production approach of Phil Spector [at his best] in terms of sweeping musical vision. Taking Mr Millan and Mr Freidenson’s compositions and arrangements respectively, he has distilled the musicians’ distinctive brand of succinct and penetrating expressivity, amplifying their best qualities onto a canvas large enough to depict not only their music, but with singular brushstrokes, the whole character of urban Brasil with cinematic grandeur.

Mr Millan pays homage to all the past Carioca and Paulista masters – indeed all [of] beloved Brasil – with sixteen charts. These narratives, and elegiac songs rivet attention through a varied juxtaposition of poetic musings and technical [such as traditional dances and rhythmic] colourations. In the Grove of the Jacarandas, Madrugada, Morungaba and Farrapos de Lua represent what are, perhaps the most outstanding tracks on this album.

The Brasilian violão, the guitar, drums and percussion, horns and strings execute mysterious and iconic slides, quite literally ‘painting’ the music onto dramatic soundscapes, superbly aided and abetted by Mr Freidenson’s piano and a slew of marvelous vocalists led by Mr Millan and also featuring members of the New York Voices, Alice Soyer, Ellen Johnson, Jorge Pinheiro, Lisa Ono and iconic performances by Clémentine and Giana Viscardi. The vocalists alone make this album worth the money.

However, there is more… much more. The production coup of sorts also includes outstanding contributions by bassist Mark Egan and drummer Danny Gottlieb, trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonists Teco Cardoso and Ada Rovatti. To this roster add truly marquee names such as the great clarinettist Eddie Daniels and alto saxophonist David Sanborn, vibraphonist Mike Maineri, accordionist Toninho Ferragutti, the harmonica player Humberto Clayber de Souza, and the drummers Edu Ribeiro, Mauricio Zottarelli and the young Igor Wilcox, and the great percussionist Chico Batera.

These performers combine to turn Mr Millan [and Mr Freidenson’s] works into an album of luscious splendour. Each musician – no matter where he comes from – is immersed in the evocative Brasilian musical ethos and brings an intensity to this music that transforms the plethora of black dots on staved paper into a dreamy panoply of a myriad wonderful sonorities. Extended techniques, including microtones, are used that come across as essential components in the music’s emotional trajectory.

In everything Mr DeSouteiro combines lustrous lyricism with dramatic panache that illuminates the extremes of Mr Millan [and Mr Freidenson’s] music. The composer makes trenchant contributions with his soft voice, anchored by equally distinctive creations by the pianist, and the rest of the stellar cast.

Deo gratis…

YouTube Playlist – Luiz Millan: Brazilian Match

Music – 1: Pacuíba; 2: Full Moon; 3: Andar Descalçao; 4: In the Grove of the Jacarandas; 5: Madrugada; 6: Morungaba; 7: Quem Sabe; 8: Still Looking for the Moon; 9: Sopro de Esperança; 10: Montparnasse; 11: Que de Ventos Limpem os Tempos; 12: Ecos da Juventude. [Bonus tracks] – 13: Morungaba; 14: Farrapos de Lua; 15: Lua Cheia; 16: Século XXI.

Musicians – Luiz Millan: composer and vocals; David Sanborn: alto saxophone [4]; Eddie Daniels: clarinet [5, 10]; Mike Mainieri: vibraphone [5]; Randy Brecker: trumpet [3, 7] and flugelhorn [6]; Chico Oliveira: trumpet [8, 14] and flugelhorn [1, 8, 14]; Francois de Lima: trombone [2, 7, 15]; Ada Rovatti: tenor saxophone [3, 7]; Teco Cardoso: flute [1, 2, 4, 6, 9 – 11, 15], soprano saxophone [1, 7], alto saxophone [7] and baritone saxophone [7]; guitar [1]; Michel Freidenson: arrangements, piano [1 – 3, 5, 7, 9 – 13, 16], Fender Rhodes [2 – 4, 6, 8, 14, 15] and keyboards [6, 8, 14]; John Tropea: guitar [1]; Barry Finnerty: guitar [15]; Camilo Carrara: acoustic guitar [4 – 8, 11 – 14]; Mark Egan: bass [2, 4, 15]; Josh Marcum: bass [5, 10]; Sylvio Mazzucca: bass [1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14]; Thiago Espiritu Santo: contrabass [8, 14];. Danny Gottlieb: drums [2, 15]; Edu Ribeiro: drums [1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 13]; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums [4]; Igor Wilkox: drums [8, 14]; Chico Batera: percussion [7]; New York Voices: vocals [2]; Alice Soyer: vocals [8]; Lisa Ono: vocals [6]; Clémentine: vocals [10, 13]; Ellen Johnson: vocals [4]; Jorge Pinheiro: vocals [15], backing vocals [3, 9] and acoustic guitar [1 – 4, 9, 12, 15]; Giana Viscardi: vocals [3, 9, 14]; Humberto Clayber: harmonica [16]; Toninho Ferragutti: accordion [10, 13]; Adriana Holtz: cello [1, 2, 4, 11, 15]; Luiz Amato: violin [1, 2, 4, 11, 15]; Amanda Martins: violin [1, 2, 4, 11, 15]; Yohanna Alves Pereira: viola [1, 2, 4, 11, 15].

Released – 2023
Label – Jazz Station Records [JSR 6083]
Runtime – 1:02:08

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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