In listening to Alexander's The First Milestone
and The Second Milestone
CDs as they first appeared in 2000 and 2001, you could sense that the saxophonist was blossoming into a complete player, both technically and emotionally. The driving up-tempo hard bopper was now becoming a compelling ballad interpreter as well, and his primary George Coleman and Dexter Gordon influences had been fully absorbed and transformed into an unmistakably individual style.
The confident and expressive manner in which Alexander performs the beautiful and deceptively spare "Estaté" is a sure sign of his then new-found maturity. Sounding somewhat like Stan Getz in his lilting intro, Alexander introduces the theme with a more distinctive, sensuous tone. He exudes both a calmness and a total commitment to the melody at hand, limning it with grace and perceptiveness. In his solo, Alexander brings more of a bluesy flavor to bare, and while some of his phrases resemble those of Getz, the swaggering modus operandi
of Stanley Turrentine is also recalled. But in the end, as he fluidly revisits the theme and concludes with a swirling, breathy coda, you are left admiring Eric Alexander, young mainstream tenor master. No more, no less.
Not many Italian songs are part of the global jazz repertoire, but "EstatÃ©" (composed by Bruno Martino and Bruno Brighetti) is one of the few to have made the leap. Ironically, the song is best known as a bossa nova
number, due to a memorable recording by Brazilian JoÃ£o Gilberto
. But if Italian jazz players are planning to reclaim this song as a Mediterranean-drenched ballad, no better repo men could be found than trumpeter Enrico Rava and pianist Stefano Bollani. These two artists have more than a decade of collaborations under their belt, and the duo's interaction on this track radiates their simpatico
chemistry. This version of "EstatÃ©" leaves the bossa nova
far behind, although it still retains a dose of Gilberto's saudade
. The performance moves from introspective lyricism to rhapsodic rubato, but never strains for effect. Highly recommended!
It's not often that a modern Italian song becomes an international success . . much less a jazz standard. So when the bossa nova founder, João Gilberto, recorded "Estaté" (eh STAH tay) in the fall of 1976, he achieved a rare feat. Although written in 1960 (and not as a bossa), "Estaté" had lived in obscurity until revived by Gilberto. Besides the indisputable beauty of the song's melody and chord changes, its message of love's hope and sorrow must have appealed to João's own sense of saudade
– Brazilian longing or melancholy. On this recording – indeed, throughout Amoroso
– Gilberto's gentle vocal style, accent, and understated rhythmic guitar are balanced by Claus Ogerman's lush orchestral arrangement, resulting in a moving, memorable listening experience. Bravo João!
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