Felipe Salles,
South American Suite
(Curare, 2007)

South American Suite is Brazilian music presented in a somewhat formal context, using jazz arrangements. It is not orchestral as the title might indicate, however, since only eight musicians are used.

The structured format gives the seven pieces a bit of a classical sound, particularly with Laura Arpiainen playing violins on each cut, but Felipe Salles includes many varieties of Latin rhythm. One piece alone, "Xate Manco," has three different Brazilian rhythms.

There are just a percussionist and a drummer on these sessions, so at times their changes are hard to detect. The compositions do not quite have the fire often found in Latin American music, although Salles allows for soloing to spice things up.

The instrumentation is a bit different from the usual Latin band setup. A piano and trombone are included, and Salles and Jacam Manricks between the two of them play all four of the saxes, flute, piccolo, alto flute, clarinet and bass clarinet.

Some of the compositions are more like tone poems than songs, and at up to 15 minutes in length, a few might have been tightened a little. However, Salles changes the dynamics often in these pieces and takes the melodies through some twists and turns. This is a worthy experiment that is pleasant to listen to, and successfully reflects the wonderful variety of Brazilian music.

review by
Dave Howell

28 November 2009

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new