with arrangements by Ted Nash,
Kuno Schmid, and Josh Nelson
featuring Eddie Daniels (clarinet, tenor saxophone)
Josh Nelson (piano) • Kevin Axt (bass) •
Mauricio Zottarelli (drums) • Harlem Quartet:
Ilmar Gavilán (violin) • Melissa White (violin) • Jamey Amador (viola) • Felix Umansky (cello)
Available June 1, 2018
CD Release Performances: June 1 & 2
Jazz at Lincoln Center (Appel Room)
with Eddie Daniels, Ted Nash and the
Harlem Quartet featuring pianist Hele
and bassist Scott Colley
For nearly fifty years, Eddie Daniels has continued to be one of the leading voices of modern jazz clarinet. Just as Buddy DeFranco made the transition from Benny Goodman to Charlie Parker, Daniels helped bring the clarinet from the post-bop era into the modern age. For this exciting project, Daniels focuses on the work of one of Brazil’s most important modern composers, Egberto Gismonti, with arrangements by Ted Nash, Kuno Schmid, and Josh Nelson.
Daniels’ producer George Klabin has been a fan of Gismonti for decades. “For a long time, I wanted to produce a tribute to this extraordinary musical genius, but could not find anyone who wanted to take on arranging these complex masterpieces. They said it was like trying to repaint a Picasso!”
It finally happened in 2016 while speaking about Brazilian music to his old friend and clarinetist Eddie Daniels. Klabin told Daniels all about Gismonti and explained that his works were quite different from typical Brazilian music, such as samba or bossa nova, but embrace a wide world of sound, joining elements from afro-Brazilian folklore, to contemporary classical music, to modern jazz and beyond. Daniels came on board immediately after hearing the music for himself.
“I freaked out on several levels, one of them being, how was I ever going to express how ridiculously beautiful this music is?” Daniels says. “George threw me into it and I fell in love with the originals, while still wondering, how can I pull this off?”
Heart of Brazil was recorded in 2017, the year of Gismonti’s seventieth birthday. Klabin selected the material and personnel. He chose twelve originals by Gismonti, and Daniels also wrote a new tune, “Tango Nova.”
Gismonti’s response: “When I heard the record I felt immense joy. The arrangements and playing maintain the Brazilian flavor of the originals; at the same time, they add cadences that are improvised, that are a clear variation of Brazilian music. I very much like the album’s use of strings; they give the group a high-level polyphonic concept and capture the tone color of an orchestra. The repertoire spans a rich period of my composing. What a great present for my seventy years of life.”
In his half-century as a professional composer and musician, Egberto Gismonti has shown the world an incomparably broad panorama of his native Brazil. His songs, which have filled over seventy albums, are windows to the culture: its Indian, European, and African cross-breeding; its connections with nature, rhythm, and melody; its relation to the rest of mankind. He even trekked into the Amazon forest and lived with an indigenous tribe in order to play their music with them.
Gismonti’s writing is exceptionally refined, yet full of adventure. He dips into French impressionist harmonies and post-bop jazz, and loves sudden changes of tempo and rhythm. When he discovered that the standard six-string guitar couldn’t contain his pianistic conceptions, he designed guitars with ten, twelve, and fourteen strings. With or without lyrics, his music is so atmospheric that it tells its own stories. “I want to represent the entire human experience,” he says. “I don’t want to write the kind of music that only Brazilian musicians born in Rio de Janeiro would know how to play; I never wanted that in my life.”
“As a composer, what matters most to me is knowing that my music is being heard or played by musicians,” Gismonti says. “Sometimes they are Japanese, German, English, Brazilian or French, and sometimes they are musicians who are independent of nationality because of their uniqueness and musical qualities.”
In America, Eddie Daniels is nearing a kind of legendary status in his own right. His technique, expressiveness, and radiant tone have been hailed by authorities ranging from Leonard Feather to Leonard Bernstein. Since making his first album for Prestige in 1966, the Manhattan-born Daniels has aced every challenge. In the ’70s he was a first-call studio musician, working alongside Billy Joel, Angela Bofill, and Sister Sledge. He has played Brahms and Satie, Benny Goodman, and Charlie Parker. His third-stream album on GRP, Memos from Paradise (1988), won a Grammy.
Unparalleled in his ability to fly around the clarinet at dizzying speeds, Daniels has inspired a new generation of clarinetists by bringing a new sonic concept to the jazz clarinet world. His sound combines the smoothness and evenness of the western European tradition but with the accents and articulation from the African American tradition. In the tradition of western European or “classical” finger technique, his level of mastery is unparalleled and equivalent to someone like Michael Brecker or Brad Mehldau.