Ryan Keberle’s Collectiv Do Brasil
Sonhos Da Esquina
Trombonist and composer Ryan Keberle, who traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2017 and 2018, began to collaborate with the city’s longstanding trio of Felipe Silveira (piano), Thiago Alves (bass), and Paulinho Vicente (drums), eventually forming the quartet Collectiv do Brasil and recording this beautiful album, Sonhos Da Esquina, a year later. Rarely will one hear more lyrical, expressive, and wide-ranging tonality on a trombone, as Keberle’s acutely emotional playing fills the role of a vocalist accompanied by a piano trio. In Brazilian music this emotional quality is called “saudades,” and it’s easy to hear how Keberle, the director of the jazz program at Hunter College, became so enraptured by the sound, made famous primarily through the music of Brazilian icons Milton Nascimento and Toninho Horta, both of whom are respectfully honored through this gorgeous music.
In fact, the program begins with Nascimento’s “Cio Da Terra” with his “Clube Da Esquina 2” and “Tarde” following later. The band also covers Horta’s “Aqui, Oh!” and “Francisa” while Eberle shows how much he fully absorbed this aesthetic by authoring three originals. Silveira’s light piano touch introduces the opener as Eberle and the pianist soon share the melody, which like Nascimento’s music, soon brims with a spiritual quality, as the pianist and trombone trade melodic phrases. After a glistening piano break, Eberle’s entry sounds almost like vocalese, with such voice-like quality to his playing. Silveira is such a prime mover in this piece, it is not surprising to learn that he crafted the arrangement with a key eye to detail. The piece sets the stage for the beauty of what follows.
Eberle’s “Campino” features his moaning trombone with its cries seductively sustained over Silveira’s delicate touches while his “Carbon Neutral” also gently traces a similar path, though more somber in tonality. Keberle’s interlude-like “Sonhos da Esquina” sets ups one of Nascimento’s most iconic tunes, “Clube da Esquina 2,” where the piano and bass set a relaxed mood for Keberle’s languid, elegant, extended lines.
Silveira’s opening piano introduction replicates gently cascading water in Horta’s tune of the same name and his next set of sequences evoke small ripples on a calm lake over which Keberle’s melody floats like a sailboat gradually gaining wind and speed, accented by drummer Vicente’s cymbal work, making for the most energetic track in the set. Nascimento’s “Tarde” returns to the spacious, soothing, achingly beautiful qualities of the opening tracks while Horta’s closing “Francisca” has the unit again alternating between that and a more swaggering, swinging tempo.
The trombonist’s chemistry with this trio just seems seamless and totally natural. Keberle and Collectiv do Brasil deliver some of the most calming, pensive, and lush music heard recently.
- Jim Hynes