Portrait in Black and White

Hélio Alves

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Portrait in Black and White Review

by Ken Dryden

Brazilian pianist Helio Alves joins forces with bassist Santi Debriano and drummer Matt Wilson for this inspired studio session. His "Frenzy" is well named, beginning with an insistently repeated motif before taking off in an uptempo post-bop direction. "Sambetinho" is a delicious samba in which Alves' dancing licks are complemented by Wilson's imaginative percussion and Debriano's spacious bassline. "Loose Samba" has a Latin flavor but breaks loose from the normal rhythmic constraints of the style. "Song for Anna" is a delicate jazz waltz dedicated to the composer's young daughter. Alves' approach to well-known compositions is equally fascinating. "Angel Eyes" is far faster than typical recordings, played as a bop vehicle with Wilson's creative percussion challenging the leader for the spotlight. His sensitive interpretation of Steve Swallow's "Falling Grace" showcases Debriano's flawless arco bass, while Alves occasionally hints at the influence of the late Bill Evans in his post-bop rendition of Michel Legrand's masterpiece "You Must Believe in Spring." Warmly recommended.

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