The saxophonist Paulo Moura is one of the few Brasilian musicians of note to be associated with the classic 60s period of bossa nova and Brasilian groove who also had a recording career pre-bossa. In the late 50s Moura was recording in a straight jazz style for the Brasilian RCA label. Both the artwork and the arrangements of his albums had more than a nod towards the West Coast jazz movement that so influenced the early creators of what became the bossa nova in Brasil. These records featured arrangements of jazz standards like 'East of the Sun' and 'Tenderly' by fellow 'jazzophiles' Moacir Santos and CipÃ³.
Paulo Moura was already a musician of some stature in Brasil by the time that the bossa nova phenomenon occurred, and, as such, was in a prime position to take part in the new experimental groups that were mixing bossa nova with the sound of American jazz from the 60s, such as Os Gatos and Os CatedrÃ¡ticos. Moura played with Sergio Mendes in a group that did exactly that and was part of the famous Cannonball Adderley Sextet in NY. He also played on countless record sessions where there was a need for improvised solos, however short. But Moura's twin loves of jazz and Brasilian popular music (later to be heard in his almost complete transition to a player of folkloric 'choros') reached their apogee in the few recordings that he made for the tiny, but highly influential, Equipe label during the second half of the 1960s.
Of these three jazz recordings as leader, this album 'Paulo Moura Quarteto' is perhaps the rarest and least known. With a band that included the young pianist Wagner Tiso, fresh from Minas Gerais and the group SambalanÃ§o, (later so instrumental in the career of Milton Nascimento) and the drummer Paschoal Meirelles (known to fusion fans as founder of Cama de Gato in the late 70s), Moura is in his element. Taking their cue from popular tunes of the day like Antonio Adolfo's 'SÃ¡ Marina' (which enjoyed massive success in the US with the Sergio Mendes version called 'Pretty World') the group show what the sidemen where capable of given a free rein and a willing producer. Forget the countless American tenor player's LPs in a 'bossa nova setting' - the Paulo Moura Quarteto improvise naturally over subtle and organic bossa rhythms that are the real thing!
whatmusic.com June 2002
Original liner notes from Equipe EJ 6.003
Long before my first trip to Brasil, I'd written down the name of Paulo Moura in a little notebook that I carried everywhere in which I would write down the names of musicians who had most impressed me and whom I most wanted to meet in person. I can still remember my first contact with his music. It was in Stockholm, in Sweden, just as I was preparing to leave the country. My baggage was already too heavy and I had resolved not to buy any more records. But I couldn't resist the temptation. As I passed in front of a record store I heard a version of 'Blues Walk' - irresistible, animated, happy and full of warmth - in bossa nova time. I went in and bought the album, which had been released under Herbie Mann's name. The American flautist had had the good taste to record with Sergio Mendes and Paulo Moura, amongst others. I was extremely impressed by the personality of these two Brasilian musicians. The saxophone is a marvellous instrument, having as it does, the flexibility to reach in its expression the warmth and subtlety of the human voice. Paulo Moura possesses the necessary love and respect for his sax to allow him to the extract from his instrument the most sonorous beauty. The release of this recording in which Paulo Moura once again proves his musical talents also helps to fill a void in this series of Brasilian recordings.
The music contained in this album shows an artist in possession of a rare ability to develop a style of his own, one that can be immediately identified as such. This is the result of a synthesis of elements discovered in the some of the greatest jazz saxophonists: Cannonball Adderley, Art Pepper, Paul Desmond and, perhaps less evident, the immortal Charlie Parker. The influences were all assimilated and adapted to the necessities of a temperament both vigorous and sensitive, whose 'Brasilianness' has always been lovingly cultivated, alongside his true jazz affinities.
It was always inevitable that there should be an alliance between jazz and popular music, because jazz with all its resources, uses the rhythms and themes of popular music albeit more intelligently, with more variety and more freedom. I believe that because of the adaptation of the principles and fundaments of samba to a jazz approach that the music that Brasilian musicians play today is, in my opinion, probably the most advanced in the world. They have taken from jazz just exactly what they need which is, principally, the harmonic richness, a preoccupation with development and the love of an expressive sound, whilst rejecting the rest. It could be they have managed to create something that could be called 'Latin Jazz'. It's under this title that I would attempt to define the music of Paulo Moura, which here uses essentially Brasilian rhythms (that swing in a highly contagious nature!) along with Brasilian themes (with one exception: Charlie Parker's 'Yardbird Suite' - a beautiful adaptation), leaving ample room for improvisation - something which Moura practices with a real ingenuity and a solid sense of melodic construction.
The pianist Wagner Tiso (author of the excellent 'Retrato de Benny Carter' ['Portrait of Benny Carter'] and the notable interlude that precedes 'Yardbird Suite'), the bassist Luis Carlos Carvalho and the drummer Paschoal Meirelles are a revelation in all respects. All show full confidence in the leader and contribute much towards making this album such a splendid recording.
In this Equipe LP, which also includes the popular 'SÃ¡ Marina', the themes are worked out in a highly personal manner; thereby producing a sound that will satisfy not only those jazz aficionados but also anyone that loves popular music of the highest quality. The Paulo Moura Quarteto prove that it is possible to make popular and advanced modern music and still remain hugely enjoyable.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Lamento Do Morro
2. Eu E A Brisa
3. Meu Lugar
4. Aos PÃ©s Da Santa Cruz
5. Yardbird SuiteYardbird Suite
6. SÃ¡ Marina
7. Retrato De Benny Carter
9. FeitiÃ§o De OraÃ§Ã£o