Claudio Roditi is on a roll coming off the critical triumph of Grammy nominated Brazilliance X 4 (2009), and the master trumpet player continues “trumpeting” his Brazilian roots with Bons Amigos. Using a rotary valved trumpet (a rarity in jazz), a flugelhorn and a piccolo trumpet for these recordings, Roditi opts for a warmer, more lyrical tone that fits fight in with the breezy Brazilian tunes played here. Another small combo setting as on Brazilliance, the rhythm section is completely changed up: Donald Vega (piano), Marco Panascia (bass) and Mauricio Zottarelli (drums) are joined by an additional instrument, guitar, played by Romero Lubambo on half of the cuts.
The songs comprise of a combination of Roditi originals and Brazilian-penned covers carefully chosen equally by Roditi and producer George Klabin, also head of Roditi’s record label, Resonance. Compositions from Toninho Horta, Jobim, Johnny Alf and Eliane Elias are given fresh treatments, with just as much emphasis on jazz as there is on Brazil. As on prior Roditi records, the main draw is his unique trumpet sound, blending the softness of a flugelhorn with the range of a conventional trumpet. On this outing, Roditi even cuts loose a little bit more than normal, especially on tracks like “O Sonho” (Youtube below), “Bossa de Mank” and “Piccolo Samba,” while maintaining the grace and touch that are fundamental elements of his style. Other high points are the elegiac playing complemented by Lubambo’s acoustic six-string on “Para Nada” and the crisply swinging rhythm section performance on Roditi’s own marvelous composition “Levitation.” He even takes a sensitive vocal turn, on “Ligia,” but his muted horn remains the main spotlight on this Jobim ballad.
With Bons Amigos set to release on September 13, Claudio Roditi once again successfully reconciles the country of his youth—Brazil—with his adopted environs—America, reminding us that Brazilian jazz is one of the most natural and sweet sounding fusions of two cultures in modern music.