The Spotlight Series highlights upcoming Latin Jazz musicians that have yet to reach national recognition. Many of these musicians thrive in local scenes and some tour in support of releases. All these musicians contribute greatly to the overall Latin Jazz scene, and they deserve our spotlighted" attention.
Sounds of Brasil
Ark Ovrutski Quintet
The world is filled with cultural connections; sometimes they simply need a little urging to become obvious. History is filled with exchanges between different countries and as a result, musical ideas have flowed freely into artistic evolution. Borrowed musical conventions often become embedded into the new culture though, hiding their origins and commonalities. Adventurous musicians dig further into art form’s historical landscape and they eventually discover the original cultural relationships. This revelation opens a door onto a world of unheard music, as the cultural commonalities give way to other music from their new bond. While the artist may feel a natural affinity for this world of music, they still need some guidance into the intricacies of the style. Once they make a connection with a well-versed musician and learn the language, the sky is the limit on artistically engaging music. Bassist Ark Ovrutski found a relationship between the early romantic music of Russia and Portugal, leading him to a broad knowledge of Brazilian music, which he displays through a smart set of original compositions on Sounds of Brasil
.Bringing The Rhythmic Vitality Of Brazilian Music Into Jazz
Ovrutski channels the rhythmic vitality of Brazilian music on several compositions, mixing that energy with a strong harmonic foundation. Drummer Duduka Da Fonseca’s deep groove wraps around Ovrutski’s catchy bass line on “2nd Line/Partido Alto,” setting the foundation for a funky melody. Alto saxophonist Craig Handy grabs the inherent feel of the piece with bluesy lines and rides the rhythm section’s growing intensity with cleverly syncopated figures. Tenor saxophonist Jorge Continentino winds through the rhythmic feel with jazz tinged lines, bouncing bop flavored ideas around the groove. There’s a serious nature to the short jabbing lines on “Mr. Hindemith,” that dart around the rhythm section’s movement between baião and samba. Ovrutski races quick lines across his instrument in an attention grabbing improvisation until Handy raises the dynamic with a quote from Hermeto Pascoal that develops into a raging collection of solo ideas. Pianist Helio Alves opens the chords into a dynamic statement, leaving room for Da Fonseca who delivers a stunning collection of rhythm and colors before Continentino closes with a flute solo. Pieces of an afoxé rhythm inform Da Fonseca’s unaccompanied introduction on “Samba In 4th,” which comes alive through his innate ability to embellish Brazilian forms with jazz ideas. An active bass line from Ovrutski kicks the wind players into a tension filled melody, opening the door for Alves to storm through a ferocious improvisation filled with rhythmic and harmonic friction. Continentino plays off the rhythm section’s building intensity with angular lines until Handy comes screaming into his solo on tenor, pushing against the rhythm section’s fierce drive. Ovrutski includes two versions of his composition “Brasilian Carnaval,” providing a full picture of the possibilities behind the dark and powerful song. The melody resonates with a fully formed tension, as the wind players deliver a minor melody over a 6/8 groove. Continentino and Handy both deliver intensive statements on baritone and soprano sax respectively, while Alves tears through a strong piano solo before the band explodes into a collective improvisation. The group digs deeply into several Brazilian traditions on these songs, creating inspired contexts for improvisation that tingle with rhythmic energy.Emphasizing The Delicate Side Of Brazilian Music
Another side of the group emerges within a number of Ovrutski’s compositions that emphasize the more delicate side of Brazilian music. Ovrutski combines chordal passages and single note lines on the electric bass introduction to “SOB” before joining Da Fonseca in a light samba behind the appealing main theme. Continentino floats over the thick texture of Ovrutski’s chordal accompaniment before the bassist leaps into a nimble display of melodic ingenuity and impressive dexterity. Handy tears into the changes with aggressive lines and a razor sharp tone, leading into an energetic improvisation from Alves. The lush sound of Handy and Continentino on flutes floats over a swaying bossa nova and a rich harmonic structure on “Song For My Mom.” Handy slices through the mellow backdrop with a rhythmically active solo, contrasted by the deep sound of Continentino’s alto flute and understated lines. Ovrutski develops a gorgeous theme through the changes with a quiet intensity, giving way to a smart statement from Alves, full of rapid streams of ideas. The rhythm section gently provides a lush backdrop on the spacious ballad “Baby’s Vibe,” while Continentino tenderly interprets the melody. Alves playfully runs uplifting lines through the changes, leading into an ebullient swung statement from Ovrutski that pulls the finest pieces of the harmony into long melodies. Continentino pushes his instrument’s smoky tone into an emotionally charged statement, heightened by flurries of jazz tinged lines and upper register sequels. Ovrutski brings out the melodic beauty of Brazilian music and creates a context for expressive improvisation on these compositions, exposing another side of his group’s strength.Original Jazz Compositions That Resonate With Authenticity And Excitement
Ovrutski reveals a natural connection to Brazilian music throughout Sounds of Brasil
, delivering a seamless collection of original jazz compositions that resonate with authenticity and excitement. As a composer, Ovrutski shows a deep connection to both jazz and Brazilian music, creating songs that bubble with rhythmic vitality and shine with harmonic depth. The melodic beauty of Ovrutski's compositions reflects a broad study of Brazilian composers and the smart integration of their approaches. The stylistic foundation of the music rises from Da Fonseca’s impeccable drum work, drawing upon his vast knowledge of Brazilian music and his ability to approach it from a jazz perspective. His rhythms ground the music while simultaneously interacting with both Ovrutski and Alves to create a dynamic groove. Alves leaps off the recording with supportive chordal work and an attention grabbing solo voice that consistently adds a vital urgency to the group. Both Handy and Continentino provide smart improvisatory contributions that interact beautifully with the power of the rhythm section. The music on Sounds of Brasil
overflows with Ovrutski’s appreciation for Brazilian music and the sympathetic resonance of his bandmates’ performance, revealing a cultural connection that will hopefully continue into the future.
Musicians: Duduka Da Fonsecadrums & percussion; Craig Handyflute (3), alto saxophone (1, 2, 4, 5, 8), tenor saxophone (7); Jorge Continentinoflute (2, 4, 7), alto flute (3), tenor saxophone (1, 6), baritone saxophone (5, 8); Ark Ovrutskibass; Helio Alvespiano