Dave Pietro

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Embrace Review

by Ken Dryden

Dave Pietro's approach to Brazilian music avoids the tepid attempts by Americans who simply add Brazilian rhythm sections to their existing front lines and expect the results to astound everyone. Instead, the saxophonist mixed and matched musicians from both continents in different combinations from one track to the next, fusing elements of post-bop into original compositions with Latin rhythms. Pietro's "Never Nothing" features adventurous solos by the leader (on alto sax) and trumpeter Scott Wendholdt. The delightful "Equanimity" suggests children playing, while his writing for the backing horns and reeds, along with the wordless vocals of Valtinho Anastacio, make it a song worth returning to. The engaging percussion of Anastacio and drummer Paulo Braga provides the foundation of "Cururu," which would likely get any crowd on their feet to dance. Pete McCann introduces the timeless bossa nova "Canto Triste" on nylon-string acoustic guitar as Pietro switches to the infrequently heard C-melody sax for this bittersweet ballad. Pietro plays soprano sax in his tense, uptempo "Hamartia" and his mellow ballad "Embrace." The supporting cast of musicians also includes either Helio Alves or David Berkman on piano, bassist Nilson Matta, drummer Duduka Da Foncesa (of the group Trio da Paz), trombonist Pete McGuinness, and tenor saxophonist Tom Christensen, among others.

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