"FABULOUS CD ... You guys are really doing some sweet stuff." - Mike Marshall
"Payne makes the challenging seem effortless on 'Inspiration' (Dexofon Records), a trio date with Brazilian guitarist Antonio Mello and percussionist G. Thiago de Mello. Payne's breathy clarinet tone is a soothing complement to his bandmates' thoughtful interplay. Relaxing and intellectual at the same time, 'Inspiration' might remind some American ears of the classic Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd collaboration, 'Jazz Samba'."
-Bret Saunders, Denver Post, Sun Feb 13, 2005
CD Review, Missoula Independent, June 3, 2004
Antonio Mello, Dexter Payne, & Thiago de Mello
Inspiration (Ethos Brasil):
Brazil and its music(s) radiate something irresistible to foreign musicians: Paul Simon, David Byrne and Arto Lindsay, to name a few, have proved fruitful cross-pollinators.
Sometimes, though, the most satisfying Brazilian-flavored records aren't the artsy egghead hybrids, but those closer to the tradition of artists who brought the country's music to American ears in the mid '60s: Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Inspiration grew out of a collaboration between clarinetist Dexter Payne, a "reedman on a musical pilgrimage," Brazilian guitarist and composer Antonio Mello, and percussionist Thiago de Mello. All three musicians play bossa nova with winning subtlety, fitting together like pieces of an intricate, intimate puzzle. Payne's clarinet (he occasionally switches to alto sax) carries most of the melody on these 11 tracks (including a Jobim cover); finally, a virtuoso musician who really hears the Brazilian whispers, and not just the carnival clamor. (Andy Smetanka)
"Antonio is one of the formost examples of the huge talent which naturally flows from the Brazilian musician. I was absolutely moved by his recording with the American clarinetist Dexter Payne. the pieces on this CD undoubtedly reflect his maturity as a composer and instrumentalist." ~Sergio Assad
LINER NOTES by Arnaldo DeSouteiro
(translated by Dexter Payne and Thiago de Mello):
"At a moment of indolent poverty in Brazilian music the appearance of a work of high level such as "Inspiration" deserves from all of us a grateful prayer . It is with deep concern that I watch the current growth of a rancorous new wave of xenophobia mixed with cultural provincialism complete with fascist arguments in favor of a supposed "pure music". Fortunately this is impossible in a country like ours which by nature has its foundation in a mix of different cultures. Suddenly, like a blessing, the works of Antonio Mello emerge. Dispensing with nationalistic cliché, he shows that it is possible to universalize our turf without losing the Brazilian essence.
A composer of great aesthetic nobility, and a guitarist whose virtuosity never succumbs to juggling tricks, Antonio Mello reveals a touch always precise without sounding mechanical, sure without falling into harshness. The lyrical moments are without artifice, and the most intricate passages escape trivial arabesque technicality and the
pretentiousness of gratuitous affectation. In the case of Antonio Mello, classical training did not lead to academicism, nor did it restrain his balance. In this sense, he fortunately approaches the lineage of masters beyond label such as Laurindo Almeida, the great patriarch of Brazilian guitar or the phenomenal Sergio & Odair Assad, also renowned international exponents.
For this outing, Antonio is in excellent company, to begin with, Dexter Payne, a clarinetist with beautiful sonority, fascinating fluency and - for the general astonishment of those who still think that "Americans cannot swing playing Brazilian rhythms" -, he proves otherwise, with his own incredible mischievious phrasing. To define him as a mixture of Artie Shaw and Severino Araújo would be no exaggeration whatsoever.
Other luminary, Gaudêncio Thiago de Mello, the high Chief of organic percussion performs with his costumary artistic shrewdness. A true alchemist of sounds, he goes way beyond the usual rhythmic patterns, coloring the tracks in which he participates with the arquitectonic logic of his orchestral conception. His association with Antonio Mello is the most recent chapter in a series of memorable collaborations with two other notable guitarists, Carlos Barbosa-Lima and Sharon Isbin, for which he received world-wide acclaim.
In the mischievousness of "Coraçâo Latino", in the moaning evocation of the wasteland of "Nordestino nº 2" (in which Dexter changes clarinet for alto sax, at times resembling oboe in the highest passages), or in the seductive romanticism of "Rapsodia in Choro", our heroes confirm their illustrious talents. They continue enchanting hearts and minds through the oblique "Marte" and the sinuous melodic line of "Infinitivamente" (duet of Antonio & Dexter), as well as by means of the mournful "Obrigado Paulinho da Viola".
There is still the ethereal atmosphere of "Canto dos Pássaros" and the reflective enchantment of "Inspiration", punctuated by sudden appearance of the most subtle Berimbau playing in the history of music!
Completing the musical menu are two choros, "Radamés and Pelé" (from Jobim in his last record, "Antonio Brasileiro", of 1984) and "Mais Uma Vez", of a certain Sebastião Barros (1917-1980), known by the nickname of K-Ximbinho who died penniless and today is practically forgotten, is here paid homage by the contagious pulse of the last piece, Antonio's "Tema para K-Ximbinho", with the voice of Thiago transformed into an extra percussive sound.
The feats of three wise men joined for the passion of music."
About Arnaldo DeSouteiro:
In Brazilian jazz circles, Arnaldo DeSouteiro commands the sort of respect and admiration that Orrin Keepnews and Quincy Jones enjoy in the United States -- he is a heavyweight producer who has worked with his share of major Brazilian artists, just as Keepnews and Jones are famous for the American artists they've worked with. The list of Brazilian stars DeSouteiro has produced includes João Gilberto, Luiz Bonfá, Dom Um Romao, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Yana Purim, Mario Castro-Neves, and João Donato, among many others. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide