Friday, February 19, 2016

Duduka Da Fonseca: A Drummer's Delight

© -  Steven A. Cerra - copyright protected; all rights reserved.

When the editorial staff at JazzProfiles received a preview copy Trio Da Paz 30 [Zoho ZM 201602] featuring guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, it started a bit of a quest to locate more information about a drummer who had obviously been around for awhile, but who was new to me.

Duduka certainly impressed me with the clarity of his drum sounds and the light, yet insistent feel of the rhythms he laid down.

I knew that I had heard that name before - “Duduka” - one is not likely to forget such an uncommon name, but where?

Then it dawned on me: in an interview I had done with Jazz author and President of the Jazz Journalist Association, Howard Mandel, Howie had listed Duduka’s music in his list of favorite musicians on today’s Jazz scene.

In response to my request for “more Duduka” which I could reference to develop a blog feature on him, Jim Eigo at Jazz Promo Services kindly sent along a copy of Duduka Da Fonseca: New Samba Jazz Directions [ZM201310] which coincidentally contained insert notes written by none other than - you guessed it - Howard Mandel. The Trio Da Paz 30 contained commentary by Duduka himself and a nice overview of the highlights of Duduka’s career as written by Joachim "Jochen" Becker,” so I thought I would combine all three into the following blog posting at the conclusion of which you’ll find a video offering a sampling of Duduka’s music.

Jochen on Duduka

“For decades, Rio de Janeiro-born drummer Duduka Da Fonseca has been hailed as one of the leading drummer/band leaders in Brazilian Samba Jazz, the exciting hybrid of native Brazilian rhythms and American Jazz. "Growing up in Ipanema in the 50s was fantastic," Duduka recalls. "Its beaches were beautiful and pure. Ipanema was a neighborhood of mostly family homes with very few buildings and cars. We played soccer in the streets and climbed trees. It was peaceful."

"I was very fortunate that my parents loved good music. I was brought up listening to Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Dorival Caymmi, Luis Bonfa, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and many others."

Duduka began playing the drums at thirteen: "I am self-taught. My way to learn was playing along with the vinyl records of the Brazilian musicians and American Jazz masters." Following several years of performing in Brazil both as a leader and a sideman, Duduka moved to New York in 1975. There, he followed his dream of playing with American Jazz musicians, blending the musical cultures of Brazil and the US. "When I arrived in New York City, it was a much different musical scene from today. Samba Jazz was not on the map at that time. I am very proud to be one of a few musicians who helped revive the Brazilian Jazz scene in New York City in the late 70s."

Duduka has appeared on over 200 albums and performed with artists such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, Gerry Mulligan, Claudio Roditi, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Tom Harrell, Eddie Gomez, Rufus Reid, Lee Konitz, Herbie Mann, Jorge Dalto, Joe Henderson, Kenny Barron, Emily Remler, Nancy Wilson, Slide Hampton, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Gil Goldstein, Joanne Brackeen, Marc Johnson, George Mraz, John Patitucci, Renee Rosnes, Bill Charlap, Maucha Adnet, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, and Phil Woods amongst many others.

Among these recordings are three prior releases as a leader for the ZOHO label, including: Duduka Da Fonseca Quintet: Samba Jazz in Black and White (ZM 200603) in 2006; Brazilian Trio: Forests (ZM 200806) in 2008; and Duduka Da Fonseca Trio Plays Toninho Horta (ZM 201115) in 2011. In 2009, his Brazilian Trio album "Forests" was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the "Best Latin Jazz Album" category. —Joachim "Jochen" Becker”

Duduka on Duduka

Samba and Bossa Nova (which originated from Samba) have been at the heart of my playing since the beginning. They are usually played on the drum set, with the traditional ostinato pattern (= dotted eighth/sixteenth notes) played on the bass drum. The "Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66" album, with Joao Palma on drums, is a good example of this way of playing.

But I believe that in Samba or Bossa Nova one can also choose to use the bass drum much more freely, without the obligation of playing the traditional ostinato pattern the whole time, using the bass drum to play syncopated accents as an accompanying voice. I sometimes like to alternate between the two approaches, even in the same song. I also love "feathering" the bass drum; a technique, as the word implies, in which you play very softly.

In America, modern Jazz bass drum syncopations and accents were developed by Kenny Clarke (1914-1985), who found a way to match the new conversational language of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. Growing out of the styles of Chick Webb, Papa Jo Jones and "Big" Sid Catlett, Kenny Clarke's innovations paved the way for Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones and many others, and changed the approach of Jazz drummers all over the world.

The concepts that were created by these legendary Jazz drummers were eventually adapted to Samba Jazz and Bossa Nova drumming. In Brazil, the first to do so was Edison Machado (1934-1990) whose 1965 recording "Rio 65 Trio" with Dom Salvador (piano) and Sergio Barrozo (bass) heavily influenced myself, Robertinho Silva, Ze Eduardo Nazario, Tutty Moreno, and several others. In the early 70s while living in Rio, I began to develop this way of playing Samba in a trio setting with Cesarius Alvim (piano) and Ricardo Santos (bass).

In 1975, I moved to New York to pursue my dreams; I fell in love with the city and have lived here ever since. It has been a great learning journey, and has led me to understand that gratitude, perseverance, patience and kindness are some of the key qualities that can lead to a better knowledge of life.

In the early 80's I began playing and recording with the pianist of the Rio 65 Trio, Dom Salvador, who had also moved to New York. In 1997 we recorded a joint album, "Transition" with Rogerio Botter Maio on bass. Because of the chemistry between us we were able to explore ideas of a more freely played Samba.

Years later I found a new trio setting in which to continue this musical conversation. Our first recording together was "Duduka Da Fonseca Trio plays Toninho Horta" for ZOHO Music.

David Feldman, Gutto Wirtti and I are able to think and feel musical time in uncannily similar ways, creating an ideal musical landscape for us to further explore new forms of Samba and Bossa Nova playing, using our roots for musical inspiration. The result is a time/beat with a much wider and elastic feel, but without losing the essence of Samba, which is in our blood.

Our new album was made in Rio de Janeiro where the sounds of our music originally took root at "Beco das Garrafas", (Rio's 52nd Street). Recording in the neighborhood of Ipanema where I was born and raised was a wonderful experience for me, and I hope that you enjoy listening to the album as much as we enjoyed making it. Here is our heartfelt effort to present New Samba Jazz Directions.

Deep thanks to David Feldman and Guto Wirtti for their invaluable musical suggestions. This album is dedicated to my beloved wife Maucha Adnet. Best of luck and peace. - Duduka Da Fonseca”

Howard Mandel on Duduka

Trio Da Paz "30" (Zoho ZM 201602)
Street Date: February 5, 2016
Romero Lubambo - Acoustic & Electric Guitars,  Nilson Matta - Acoustic Bass,
Duduka Da Fonseca - Drums

“Only very special collaborations last 30 years, and rarely do they become more exciting and together over the decades. Trio da Paz, however, is one such long-lasting and still lightning band. The team of drummer Eduardo "Duduka" Da Fonseca, guitarist Romero Lubambo and bassist Nilson Matta, all Brasilian jazzmen of New York City, is just as dashing today as when the three first met in 1985.

So 30, their seventh album and ZOHO debut release, wastes no time glancing back. Rather, Trio da Paz celebrates the past as a way to get to what's now and what's next. This is not to imply that the band or 30 denies history. As friends, Duduka, Romero and Nilson are utterly secure in their enduring triangle, and as musicians they tap well-established elements of bedrock Brasilian samba and bossa nova -- the music of Jobim, Gilberto and Bonfa -- as well as bebop and its developments, Wes Montgomery, third stream and even free improvisation for ingredients of their signature sound. Romero's urban gypsy melodies and percussive chording, Nilson's firm yet flexible baselines and Duduka's rhythms - which, whether surging or simmering, are always energized - flow fast and inseparably over the course of 30.

Sampa 67 is characteristic: A brisk tune that welcomes the listener to enjoy the musicians' empathic interplay. The composition is slangily named for Sao Paulo, where Nilson, its composer, was born, and his rubato statement is at the track's center. Hear how Romero and Duduka, in stimulating exchanges, ramp the tempo back up to where it started.

In a similar mood and moving quickly, For Donato is Romero's tribute to bandleader and pianist Joao Donato, a Brazilian master who absorbed Caribbean accents during his stints with Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader and Tito Puente, among others, when he lived in the United States during the late '50s and '60s. The tune uses an afoxe’ rhythm that comes from Bahia, and is closely related to an Afro-Cuban groove.

The pace slows somewhat - Duduka using brushes instead of sticks - for Romero's bossa nova Outono ("Autumn"). Says the guitarist-composer: "With its changing of colors and cooler days after the summer, autumn is really a season for romantic music." And this is really music for romance. Alana is Duduka's piece for his older daughter, now an adult. Her father says Alana's personality is reflected in the song, which changes meter from 15/8 to 6/8 to a doubletimed 4/4 for the bass solo to Duduka's own episode in 15/8. So may we assume Alana is a sparkling and strong woman whose many dimensions fit together gracefully? Complementary yet contrasting, Luisa is for Romero's daughter, currently 17. The guitarist calls her "a beautiful person inside and out, who I love very much!" Although written in 3/4 "Luisa" is not phrased as a jazz waltz but instead sways in a way that Duduka identifies as a waltz with a Brasilian lilt. Brasilian guitar virtuoso Baden Powell (1937 - 2000), obviously a hero to Romero, Nilson and Duduka as an early exemplar of the pan-stylistic approach Trio da Samba favors, wrote Samba Triste which at a breakneck tempo doesn't seem triste at all. Nilson's Aguas Brasileiras refers to the Atlantic ocean, which has exerted implacable influence on the Trio's native land. A ballad, the song moves in soft waves; the trio's improvisation opens up the theme's depths and crosscurrents. Nilson recorded this previously, on his 2010 ZOHO album Copacabana.

Sweeping the Chimney, which Duduka calls "fast, really fast," was inspired by workers attending to Romero's house in New Jersey. "Luisa was three years old when I wrote that," the guitarist mentions, "and she helped me decide some of the notes." Duduka contributed Flying Over Rio, the melody of which came to him in an airplane taking off over Guanabara Bay, giving him a view of the mountains around Rio and Sugar Loaf, their peak. "Wow, it was gorgeous," he remembers - also remembering to credit Paulo Jobim (Tom Jobim's son) with suggesting to him one perfect note that launched the bridge "in a completely different direction."

To conclude, Nilson's LVM/Direto Ao Assunto (the initials of his wife and sons/"to the point") goes in a flash from subtle reflection to searing line. Both of these songs have been recorded before by Duduka and Nilson with pianist Helio Alves: "Flying over Rio" in 2008 on The Brazilian Trio's ZOHO release "Forests", and "LVM/Direto ao Assunto" on that group's album Constelacao. Nilson introduced the song on the late pianist Don Pullen's album Kele Mou Bana, released in 1991.

That was just one year before Trio da Paz's own recording debut, Brasil from the Inside. Annotating that album, I wrote, "If North Americans hadn't invented jazz, surely Brasilians such as guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta and percussionist Duduka Da Fonseca would have." In fact, the members of Trio da Paz have invented jazz that's personally and musically unique. Their music is cool and hot, rooted in Brasilian heritage but cosmopolitan, timely and timeless.

"After 30 years together, we still bring the same energy, emotion and happiness whether we're stepping onstage or into a recording session," says Nilson. "That's the secret to Trio da Paz, what captivates our fans and why we keep making new ones all over the world." Romero agrees: "To play as Trio da Paz is a unique experience because the music always transcends notes, chords, tempos and anything written on sheet music. Naturally, because we've been playing together for 30 years, we know each other so well that we don't need to explain anything.

These are qualities that are impossible to teach or articulate in words. They come from the hearts, souls and feelings that we have as individuals and as a group." Duduka adds simply, "When we play, we're very organic and spontaneous. Even to songs we perform often, we like to take a fresh approach. Sometimes one of us does something a little different, and we all realize it's better, so we stick with that. It's like a democracy. We all have ideas and try to do our best." The best of Trio da Paz is very fine. And though journalists used to use "-30-" to indicate the end of a story, 30 whets the appetite for more from a band in its prime. - Howard Mandel”

Label website:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments here. Thank you.