Eddie Daniels


Off the heels of 2017’s acclaimed archival release Just Friends – Live at the Village Vanguard from 1988, jazz clarinet icon Eddie Daniels has a new project paying tribute to the world-renowned Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist, Egberto Gismonti. Heart of Brazil features Daniels with the top-shelf trio of pianist Josh Nelson, bassist Kevin Axt and drummerMauricio Zottarelli, plus the Grammy Award-winning Harlem Quartet. With new arrangements by Ted Nash, Kuno Schmidt and Josh Nelson, Heart of Brazil collects songs from Gismonti’s classic early 1970s albums on Odeon/EMI Records, such as his self-titled 1973 album, Água & Vinho (1972), Corações Futuristas(1976), Carmo (1977) and others. The album was produced by Resonance president George Klabin, who has long felt Gismonti’s work has been under-appreciated and deserving of wider recognition. Gismonti says in his interview with acclaimed author James Gavin, “When I heard the record I felt immense joy…The repertoire spans a rich period of my composing. What a great present for my seventy years of life.”

From Producer George Klabin:

The music on this recording was written in the 1970’s and 80’s and originally released in Brasil on LP. Since the very first time I heard them, these magnificent and diverse musical creations settled in a special place in my heart, as deeply transportive experiences.

For a long time I wanted to produce a tribute to this extraordinary musical genius, but could not find anyone who wanted to take on arranging these complex masterpieces. They said it was like trying to repaint a Picasso!

Finally, in 2016 while speaking to my old friend clarinetist Eddie Daniels about Brazilian music, I mentioned a brilliant composer who was born in Carmo, a very beautiful small town in the state of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I explained that his works were not at all like typical Brazilian music of the 70’s such as samba or bossa nova, but rather defy simple characterization. This composer joined elements from folklore, classical, contemporary and world music with stunning virtuosity and melodic invention.  Eddie was curious, so I sent him numerous examples. He was deeply moved and stunned by the beauty and power, and said he would love to record this. So, after many years, I had finally found my lead artist for this project. Eddie suggested Grammy award winning jazz musician Ted Nash for arrangements, and also the concept of using The Harlem String Quartet.

We eventually settled on the instrumentation of Eddie on clarinet and tenor sax, piano, bass, drums and string quartet. For arrangers, I chose Nash; as well as my good friend and regular collaborator, German arranger Kuno Schmid; and pianist Josh Nelson. We chose 12 originals by Gismonti, and Eddie also wrote a new tune , Tango Nova, arranged by Mike Patterson.

Next  I assigned the pieces among the arrangers, and asked them to preserve Gismonti’s unique and cinematic musical “paintings”, explaining my vision to treat each composition as one would a classical piece,  respecting and retaining the original treatments, melodies, moods, and intent, while adding or expanding jazz improvisation sections as vehicles for the brilliant players such as Eddie and pianist Josh Nelson. I also wanted to weave the Harlem String Quartet in and out so I told the arrangers to handle them as a unit to not only provide backgrounds, but at times play solo sections. Finally, I chose Brazilian drummer/percussionist Mauricio Zottarelli as the unifying rhythmic “voice”. His passion, incredible technical ability, and innate understanding of each style, made him so easy to work with that I could trust his choices on every song.

I could not be happier with the final result. Apparently Egberto Gismonti agrees as shown by his comments. As I look back on this project I am honored to have collaborated with all these special musicians to create this tribute to one of the world’s great musical geniuses.

And of supreme importance, this project would never have been realized without Eddie Daniels’ presence, his musical brilliance, and total mastery of his instruments.  I consider him without question the greatest living jazz clarinetist and it was an honor to collaborate with him.

GK

Program notes by James Gavin

In his half-century as a professional composer and musician, Egberto Gismonti has shown the world an incomparably broad panorama of his native Brazil. His songs, which have filled over seventy albums, are windows to the culture: its Indian, European, and African cross-breeding; its connections with nature, rhythm, and melody; its relation to the rest of mankind. Born in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Gismonti is a lifelong student of his country’s musical roots; he even trekked into the Amazon forest and lived with an indigenous tribe in order to play their music with them.

His writing is exceptionally refined, yet full of adventure. He dips into French impressionist harmonies and post-bop jazz; he loves sudden changes of tempo and rhythm. Some of his pieces unfold in movements. When he found that the standard six-string guitar couldn’t contain his pianistic conceptions, he designed guitars with ten, twelve, and fourteen strings. Some of his songs have words (most of them written by the lyricist, poet, and playwright Geraldo Carneiro), but Gismonti’s music is so atmospheric that it tells its own stories. “I want to represent the entire human experience,” he says. “I don’t want to write the kind of music that only Brazilian musicians born in Rio de Janeiro would know how to play; I never wanted that in my life.”

This album was recorded in 2017, the year of Gismonti’s seventieth birthday. The material and personnel were selected by the owner of Resonance Records, George Klabin, who wanted to give the music a jewel-like setting. As soloist, he chose Eddie Daniels, a jazz clarinetist and sometime sax player whose technique, expressiveness, and radiant tone have been hailed by authorities ranging from Leonard Feather to Leonard Bernstein. Since making his first album for Prestige in 1966, the Manhattan-born Daniels has aced every challenge. In the ‘70s he was a first-call studio musician, working alongside Billy Joel, Angela Bofill, and Sister Sledge. He has played Brahms and Satie, Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker. His third-stream album on GRP, Memos from Paradise (1988), won a Grammy.

Yet Gismonti’s work gave him pause. “I freaked out on several levels, one of them being, how was I ever going to express how ridiculously beautiful this music is? George threw me into it and I fell in love with the originals, while still wondering, how can I pull this off?”

Gismonti’s response: “When I heard the record I felt immense joy. The arrangements and playing maintain the Brazilian flavor of the originals; at the same time, they add cadences that are improvised, that are a clear variation of Brazilian music. I very much like the album’s use of strings; they give the group a high-level polyphonic concept and capture the tone color of an orchestra. The repertoire spans a rich period of my composing. What a great present for my seventy years of life.”

Date City Venue Country
10/12/18 Fairfax, Virginia George Mason University US
Time: 8:00pm. Address: 4400 University Drive.
09/02/18 Detroit, Michigan Detroit Jazz Festival US
07/07/18 - 07/10/18 Ostend, Belgium ClarinetFest 2018 UK
Time: 6:00pm. Admission: 35.00 EUR*.
06/10/18 San Francisco, California SFJAZZ Center US
Time: 8:00pm. Address: 201 Franklin Street. Venue phone: (866)920-5299. Benny Goodman Tribute with Anat Cohen and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.
06/01/18 - 06/02/18 New York, NY Jazz at Lincoln Center US
Time: 7:00pm.