Brazilian musicians always had a crush on Brazilian-sounding big bands. Unfortunately, there’s always the logistic pressure: they are overly expensive. Also, there are the commercial considerations: people usually prefer jazzy arrangements over a true Brazilian sound. Banda Mantiqueira’s Aldeia is a happy experience of a genuinely Brazilian big-band sound. Inspired in the gafieira (a kind of ballroom in which dance and music are characteristic, swinging and virtuosic) orchestras, Naylor “Proveta”‘s arrangements are truly Brazilian in their essence but are also modern, with plenty of altered chords and a cosmopolitan scent ranging from an ethereal texture to the immediate impact of the powerful rhythmic attack.
The album opens with the hard-swinging samba “Linha de Passe” (João Bosco/Aldir Blanc/Paulo Emílio), with the first exposition of the theme carried out by a solo trombone, then being the album immediately reminiscent from the gafieira sound from its very first minute. Influences of impressionism can be caught at “Seis No Choro,” a medley idealized by Naylor with two classic choro compositions. Next is a really tender “Carinhoso” (Pixinguinha), carried sensitively and delicately by Naylor at the clarinet. “Insensatez” (“How Insensitive, Tom Jobim/Vinícius de Moraes) is presented in an unsurprising arrangement that keeps the bossa nova beat. A straightforward tenor sax exposition and subtle trumpet and guitar soloing are backed by a slow-motioning brass section. “Cubango” (Edson José Alves), a funky composition and arrangement with plenty of brass attacks, would be more appealing to a broader audience. The trumpet and sax solos, though, are backed by a swinging samba bass/drum rhythm with sparse orchestral interludes. “Aldeia” (Naylor “Proveta”) takes the propulsive samba feel again to provide support for baritone and trombone solos, followed by a drum solo and a surprising ending. All in all, a must-have record if the listener is into Brazilian and big-band instrumental music. – Alvaro Neder