Gary Morgan & Panamericana!: Moragatu
Gary Morgan & Panamericana!
Felicidade (CAP 1014)
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Gary Morgan formed his orchestra PanAmericana! in 1997 to perform primarily Brazilian jazz composed by himself and others. His roots as an admirer of Gil Evans, as a student of Herb Pomeroy at Berklee College, and for seven years as a saxophonist with Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, are all apparent in Morgan's full-bodied orchestrations.
There was a time when it seemed that the then wildly popular bossa nova was synonymous with Brazilian jazz, overshadowing even the samba. In recent years, however, Morgan, Hendrik Meurkens, Felipe Salles, Trio da Paz and many others have also been exploring various regional rhythms. "Moragatu" combines the baião and the maracatú. Except for Ben Kono's engaging hard-bop tenor solo midway, this piece is a showcase for Morgan's arranging skills. The sprightly theme appears to be played by flutes and clarinet with French horn counterpoint, but with textures this thick, it is hard to be certain. There are expressive written parts for plunger-muted "wah-wah" voicings by the trumpets, as well as for staccato bursts from open trumpets. The rhythm section and additional percussionists are outstanding, their stimulating rhythmic variations and overall emphatic support key factors in the success of this engrossing performance. In case you haven't noticed, Brazilian jazz appears to be in a renaissance, thanks largely to groups such as this.
Reviewer: Scott Albin