Music made with pleasure and that affords pleasure and information. This is Leo Gandelman’s goal in “Lounjazz“, a CD he produced and is launching under his own record label, Saxsamba (with distribution by Rob Digital). As the title suggests, we are introduced to a symbiosis of lounge sonority (relaxed and relaxing) with the free spirit of jazz, from a cauldron containing samba, bossa nova, choro and other genres duly manipulated by the saxophonist, composer and arranger.
Jazz and Brazilian pop music – two streams that are miscellaneous by nature, which in essence have never strived for any kind of purity, but instead have become stronger due to the assimilation of different rhythms – have been the cornerstones of Leo Gandelman’s work. “Lounjazz” clears new paths and the biography of the musician shows that he has a license for these flights. In addition to his classical background (son of a classical pianist and of a maestro, at the age of 15 he was already playing the flute in the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra), he also studied at Berklee College of Music and, as of the 80’s, worked at studios and on stages with veritable Brazilian musical celebrities. His solo career, initiated in 1987 with the record “Leo Gandelman”, was characterized by instrumental music that banked on both lyricism and swing, or groove. A recipe that was enthusiastically
received in the American market, where Leo launched many of his records, living most of the 90’s and beginning of the 21st century in New York. There, besides doing solo work, he also participated, next to jazzmen such as Bernard Purdie, Grant Green and Rueben Wilson, in the Masters of Groove group – which Gandelman brought for performances in Brazil in 2002.
“Lounjazz” is the consolidation of many aspects of the story told above. Recent work produced by Leo, such as “Brazilian soul” (1999) and “Pérolas negras” (1997), already anticipated this musical synthesis, but stemmed mainly from popular song classics. Now, as is the case of his first record, the repertoire is almost entirely original, written by the saxophonist in partnerships with keyboardist William Magalhães (a traveling companion since the end of the 80’s) and drummer Juliano Zanoni (a young musician who Gandelman met at the end of his season in New York and who has been a constant partner since then). During the recordings, instrumentalists such as Alberto Continentino (acoustic bass), Nico Resende (guitar), André Vasconcellos (bass), Bernardo Bosisio (electric guitar), Sidinho (percussion) and David Feldman (piano) also made a significant contribution towards the consolidation of this concept.
In the opening, “Bossa Rara” summarizes the intentions and the atmosphere of the CD: totally original bossa nova, in which acoustics and electronics come together in favor of a sonority that combines smoothness and swing. This is followed by “Gavião”, a more rhythmic track, with the flavor of samba, which maintains the atmosphere – by the way, Leo and Magalhães had just finishing composing this track when a hawk appeared in front of the window, offering its name as the title. “Dançarará” got its lyrics from Seu Jorge, written on the same day as its recording. Leo produced some ideas and the pop samba composer translated into words what the topic suggested in a creative brainstorm session in the studio.
Another synthesis track, in “Lounjazz (true blues)” Gandelman’s alto sax moves sinuously through the impressive percussion (the electronic part, programmed by William Magalhães, and the “instrumental part”, by Sidinho). “Bari bossa” is the vehicle to a great solo by Leo on the baritone sax, hence the title.
“Sociedade desconhecida” is the most unconventional track of the CD, with echoes that graze both the tango on the accordion of Marcos Nimrichter and free jazz in the piano solos of David Feldman. Leo’s alto sax functions as the conductor wire of this trip, holding dialogues and approximating extremes.
“O iate” has the classic “O barquinho” as a starting point. Leo created a new composition based on a phrase from the music by Roberto Menescal (and Ronaldo Bôscoli), which is now progressing into other areas.
“Love total” is one of the themes that Leo wrote for the soundtrack of “Estrela solitária”, in this case, the love story between Elza Soares and Garrincha. A passionate Bota Fogo fan, to compose the soundtrack of the movie that tells the story of the most symbolic player from his team, Leo became deeply involved in the music of the time, based on a survey of the fabulous record collection of writer Ruy Castro. Besides this survey, the sounds of the period have always accompanied Leo. At the beginning of the 60’s his father, Henrique Gandelman, maintained a label called Plaza, pioneer in the merger of samba with jazz, which launched records such as “Saxsambando” – which also served as inspiration for the name of the label now created by Leo.
In the recreations of “Lounjazz”, the approaches are also original. One example is the approach to “Tico tico lounge”, which brings the quasi-centenarian “Tico-tico no fubá” (Zequinha de Abreu) to the dance floors, without forsaking the playfulness of this choro. Or to reaffirm the contemporaneousness of the afros-sambas of Baden Powell (and Vinicius de Moraes) in a vibrant version of “Canto de Ossanha” (pay attention to Leo’s fluent solo on the tenor saxophone).
Another hit is the beautiful samba-canção “Inquietação”, by Ary Barroso, with the participation of Zélia Duncan, a track included in
the CD as a bonus. The instrumentation, a basic and fantastic quartet, with Zanoni on the drums, Continentino on the acoustic bass, Feldman on the piano and Leo Gandelman on the soprano sax, is also a tribute to saxophonist John Coltrane and his classic record with singer Johnny Hartman. The result, as in another classic produced by Ary, is pure luxury, cool and deep.
To end the CD, another bonus track, the remix of “Dançarará”. “Dançarará remix”, “Tico tico lounge” and “Canto de Ossanha” were also produced in a small quantity in the form of vinyl records, to be distributed to DJs by Leo Gandelman.
For dance floors, lounges and minds, “Lounjazz” is an irresistible ticket to a fantastic musical trip.
Antonio Carlos Miguel
Editor of Segundo Caderno and Musical Critic of Jornal O Globo