On Sharp Egdes:
This CD is filled with sweet melodies and sophisticated harmonies. Just listen to some of them. Or, better yet, ALL of them and have a taste of a Brazilian Indian from the Amazon Rain Forest living and performing in another jungle: New York City!
Thiago 3 new CDs - including SHARP EDGES
Review by Alex Henderson
Brazilian musician Gaudencio Thiago de Mello, who is now 76, has not only been prolific as a recording artist—the veteran composer and master of organic percussion has also been enjoyably diverse. A variety of albums can be found in his ever-growing catalogue, and de Mello’s versatility is illustrated by the simultaneous release of three excellent—and very different—CDs that he was a part of: Sounds of Brazil, A Flame in the Dark and SHARP EDGES. While Sharp Edges is a straight-ahead Brazilian jazz offering, A Flame in the Dark and Sounds of Brazil both have a strong classical influence.
Of the three releases, Sharp Edges (which was recorded mostly in 1991) is the album that has the strongest jazz appeal. Sharp Edges, which was produced by de Mello and co-produced by Rio de Janeiro’s well known Arnaldo DeSouteiro, often swings joyously, although the material is consistently melodic and accessible—and de Mello is joined by an impressive cast of Brazilian and American players that includes, among others, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, trombonist Jay Ashby, alto saxophonist Mark Kirk, pianists Cliff Korman and Haroldo Mauro, Jr., guitarists Romero Lubambo and Antonio Mello, and drummers Paulo Braga, Helio Schiavo and Duduka Da Fonseca. The musicians vary from one track to the next, but the album is impressively consistent—and excellence prevails on songs that range from the optimistic “Winning Streak” and the good-natured samba “Mellow Dee” to the reflective “O Canto da Yara” and the Thelonious Monk-like “Kimbolian Dawn.” The lively, gospel-flavored “Show Me the Way” has a strong soul-jazz appeal and points to de Mello’s Baptist background (he was raised Baptist in the largely Catholic Brazil), while the haunting “Macumba Chant” contains both an African influence and the influence of Amazonian Indians. From the exuberant to the tender, Sharp Edges is a fine addition to de Mello’s catalogue.
Some musicians slow down and put out fewer albums when they grow older, but lucky for us, de Mello is not one of them. He maintains a busy schedule at 76, and all three of these memorable albums demonstrate that when it comes to music, de Mello still has a lot to say.
Alex Henderson is a Philadelphia-based journalist whose work has appeared in Billboard, Spin, JazzTimes, Jazziz, the L.A. Weekly, CD Review, HITS, Black Radio Exclusive (BRE), All About Jazz. Since 1996, he has written thousands of reviews for the All Music Guide.