I have always wanted to record a live album, but there were always many reasons keeping me from pursuing such a project. You can plan for a live recording, but there is no certainty that the music will flow that day, that the choice of venue and the sound engineer will be right for the acoustics, or that the right vibe will be there. This is why most artists record a live album during the course of several performances or even a whole tour.
All these were my reasons for delaying this project. So why record a live album now? Some of my favorite live jazz albums are what I would call “accidentally recorded”; the artist was unaware that he or she was being recorded at the time. Such is the case of this record; this was a nice surprise after a very relaxed and successful gig. We were aware that the performance was being broadcasted live on the radio but we did not know that it was also being recorded into a multi-track recording device.
Several weeks after the gig I was given a rough mix of the recording and I was pleased by both the quality of the playing and of the recording. The music we played that night spanned a decade long process, which started in 1999, when I formed the Felipe Salles Group. Although the music has been recorded before, it never stops growing and changing. After many a performance we have felt that some tunes sound even better now than when we have recorded them. Over time repertoire matures, and sometimes even transforms into something completely different. This is a part of any musical project and the reason why it makes sense to re-record tunes at different points in time.
This recording is a celebration of a decade of music by the Felipe Salles Group, a decade during which I have been extremely fortunate to have such great musicians supporting me and committing their talent to my music. A jazz composer is only as good as the performance of his work. The personality, talent and ability of your sidemen are fundamental to conveying your vision, since jazz is much more than what is written on the page. Nando and Bertram have been part of this vision for a decade and Jacam has been in the band since 2005. Jorge Roeder is such a talented musician that he can join a project like this and sound like he has been playing in it for the last ten years. This recording was in fact only the third time ever that Jorge had played with the band.
The music is self-explanatory but the main difference to my previous records is that the emphasis is on the performance and improvisational aspects instead of the compositional ones. Although all compositions are originals by me, they are treated more like standards, in the sense that we have played them for so long that they have become standards to us. The rhythm section work is quite remarkable and keeps the listener and the soloists alike constantly on their toes. The approach and interaction comes from the jazz tradition, but the compositional influences range from jazz to Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music.
I hope you enjoy this recording as much as we did making it.
New York, 2009