FIVE ROADS, Maurício de Souza's new, fourth album, features Bossa Brasil® in 9 tracks of compositions by Maurício de Souza and two of his arrangements of "O Barquinho" by Roberto Menescal and "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert as a bossa.
For his compositions, de Souza mixes Brazilian jazz rhythms with American jazz and classical music textures and melodic ideas. The styles range from Bossa Novas, to Baião, to a Waltz and a stylized Maracatú. The music is lyrical, driving, and soothing.
For this album, de Souza worked with long time music contributors and friends Andrew Beals (alto sax), Bob Rodriguez (piano), Gary Mazzaroppi (bass), and Charlie Dougherty (bass on the Live track).
FIVE ROADS was recorded on August 9th, 2018 at Teaneck Sound Studio. The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Dave Kowalski. Cover photo from Getty Images, back cover photo by Peter Murphy, insert group photo by Dave Kowalsky, and studio photo by Maurício de Souza.
REVIEWS and MORE:
Article by Raul da Gama for Hot House Jazz Magazine - January 2019.
Mauricio de Souza’s Bossa Brasil
The Brazilian-born drummer Mauricio de Souza, who studied with Joe Morello for 11 years, has been leading his own bands since 2004. On Five Roads, his Bossa Brasil consists of altoist Andrew Beals, pianist Bob Rodriguez, and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi, with Charlie Dougherty playing bass on one selection. Beals has a versatile tone on alto, sometimes sounding a bit dry and a little dissonant but at other times expressing joy. Rodriguez is a particularly skilled piano soloist while Mazzaroppi keeps the music grooving on bass.
While he is a fine drummer who consistently comes up with catchy drum rhythms that add to the ensembles and inspire the soloists, Mauricio de Souza is equally significant as a composer. His quartet performs seven of his originals on Five Roads plus Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and the standard “O Barquinho.” De Souza’s pieces, while often utilizing Brazilian rhythms, are actually superior modern straight ahead jazz compositions that are both infectious and a little challenging for the musicians. His songs, which are filled with accessible complexity, grow in interest with each listen.
This is an excellent effort which makes me wish that I could see Bossa Brasil live. But until the East Coast-based group comes to the West Coast, this fine CD (available from www.mauriciodesouzajazz.com) will suffice.
Scott Yanow (jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including Afro-Cuban Jazz, Trumpet Kings and Jazz On Record 1917-76)
RELEASE PERFORMANCES (please visit the Performances 2019 page for more details and more upcoming performances):
Saturday, October 19th, 2019 at Music Den Stage in Randolph, NJ. 7:30-9pm.
Sunday, September 8th, 2019 at 1867 Sanctuary in Ewing, NJ. 2-4pm.
Friday, August 9th, 2019 at Moonstruck in Asbury Park, NJ. 6-10pm.
Saturday, June 15th, 2019 at DiMenna Center in New York, NY. 8-9:30pm. A Project 142 production.
Saturday, April 6th, 2019 at 1867 Sanctuary in Ewing, NJ. 8-10pm.
Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 at Mondo in Summit, NJ. 8-10pm. A TEATRO Sí production.
Saturday, February 23rd, 2019 at The House of Good Fortune Music Series in Somerset, NJ. 8-11pm.
Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 at Saint Peter's Church (Midday Jazz Midtown) in New York, NY. 1-2pm.
Sunday, December 9th, 2018 at Jazz Forum in Tarrytown, NY. 4-5:30pm.
"... The rhythmic patterns are extremely nuanced, displaying plenty of finesse and a very skillful approach to composition. (...) Each piece of this sonic puzzle seems to intersect to perfection, making for a beautiful and cohesive studio work. If you are a fan of recorded jazz fusion that has a timeless warmth and feel to it, this one is going to be what you need in your collection." - Stacey Zering, Ink 19.
"Five Roads is an amazing example of contemporary bossa vibes, and this release also features an amazing production which further enhances the listening experience of this effort. (...) The drumming on this release is nothing short of beautiful." - Jazz Corner.
"Five Roads, his fourth release as a leader, is a mostly original set showing his growth as a composer. (...) De Souza’s originals, though typically played in bossa nova style, often include nonstandard chord changes, lending
them a distinctive, slightly unpredictable quality. (...) The most unusual cover is of Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria”, played with impeccable taste (...)" - Tom Greenland, The New York City Jazz Record.
"(...) The ensemble approaches "Bate Papo" with such skillful reverence that its gentle jazz seems almost religiously beautiful. de Souza's arrangement of Schubert's "Ave Maria" is truly religiously beautiful. Everything about this stellar arrangement, performance, and recording informs you that this beautiful piece was originally a hymn. (...) Same for the sly dance of "BB," where de Souza's brushes seem to caress instead of strike, gently pulling rhythms and notes out from, his instrument like it's a magician's hat." - Chris Slawecki, All About Jazz.
"De Souza’s pieces, while often utilizing Brazilian rhythms, are actually superior modern straight ahead jazz compositions that are both infectious and a little challenging for the musicians. His songs, which are filled with accessible complexity, grow in interest with each listen." - Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene.
"...Maurício’s Bossa Brasil project is a masterpiece of subtlety.” - Raul da Gama, Hot House Jazz Magazine.
1. Estações (Maurício de Souza)
2. Bebeto (Maurício de Souza)
3. Folclórica (Maurício de Souza)
4. Bate Papo (Maurício de Souza)
5. BB (Maurício de Souza)
6. Paisagens (Maurício de Souza)
7. Ave Maira (Franz Schubert)
8. O Barquinho (Roberto Menescal)
9. Valsinha Para Elvira (LIVE) (Maurício de Souza)
Maurício de Souza (drums)
Andrew Beals (alto sax)
Bob Rodriguez (piano)
Gary Mazzaroppi (bass) - tracks 1-8
Charlie Dougherty (bass) - track 9
The Making of "Five Roads" by Maurício de Souza
Thank you for taking the time to read my notes on the making of my new album, "Five Roads". It is always a real pleasure to think back at all the steps involved in making a new album. For my latest project, I decided to record mostly my own music. Composition and composers have always fascinated me. I love to sit down behind the piano with nothing but a blank page and (sometimes...) an initial idea. When I began writing more of my own music, I started out numbering the tunes (back to 1, despite the fact that I had already written three other tunes prior. It felt like a fresh start...). When I handed them out to the guys in the band, all the charts had numbers. When I decided to finally name my own tunes (not always easy when dealing with instrumental music...), I had to keep going back to the numbers on gigs and rehearsals so we'd all be on the same page (literally...).
Once the project started taking shape, I decided to dedicate some of the music to people close to me and my music. As a way to thank them for their unwavering support and devotion. Three of the tunes were dedicated to my Dad, my Mom, and my (at the time) fiancé. Details on that below under each tune.
It seems I am driven by motion. There is so much to do and accomplish in life, I can't seem to spend too much time standing still. So, once more, the title of my album reflects that. The idea for the title, "Five Roads" came to me one day pretty much out of the blue. I was thinking about writing a Bossa in 5 and "Five Roads" had a certain charm to it. Then came the challenge of picking an album cover image that would visually reflect that. Emily Cyrier ended up finding that image online (see album cover at the top of the page). It was perfect and even had a not so obvious detail: there are four arrows but one of them is a double arrow, making it five directions (Five Roads). I hope you enjoy/have been enjoying what is hopefully the first of many albums featuring mostly my own music.
Incidentally, most of these tunes were written in the "Brahms" room at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts in Flemington, NJ.
Before I start reflecting about each track in the album, I would like to take a moment to thank Andrew Beals, Bob Rodriguez, Gary Mazzaroppi, and Charlie Dougherty for their hard work in learning all this music and incredible musicianship in playing it.
Track 1: Estações by Maurício de Souza.
This tune kicked off the new wave of compositions. I remember siting down to start working on this tune and thinking I wanted to move my music in a "different direction" (no pun intended...) then "Shasha", which was the last tune I wrote prior to this one. Not that I didn't want to write that kind of complex and challenging music anymore but I wanted to explore other musical avenues and possibilities. Originally entitled, "1", I decided to name it "Estações" ("Stations" in Portuguese) because when listening to it, I picture a train traveling through different towns, landscapes, and stations.
Track 2: Bebeto by Maurício de Souza.
"Bebeto" is my Dad's nickname. I decided to dedicate this tune to him because of its adventurous nature. My Dad thoroughly enjoys the music of Moacir Santos and this tune has some similar elements. I think of it as a lose "Maracatú", with its broken up rhythmic patterns. We kick it off with a march like beat on the drums and the intro uses a sequence of bi-tonal chords (over A Major). The slow Bossa section in the middle of the head in is used as another element of surprise. An that's the only time it happens in the tune. Like with most tunes from this "opus", I treat the solo section as a separate section of the tune. It is based on the chord progression used underneath the melody but it has its own form (in terms of number of measures). In terms of artistic expression, this is the tune I am most proud of in this album.
Track 3: Folclórica by Maurício de Souza.
The melody in this tune has the same character as some Brazilian folkloric music I listened to growing up in Brasil. Hence the title, "Folclórica" (Folkloric). This is a slow and floaty Bossa, with a dreamy introduction. The bridge uses some of the rhythmic elements from the introduction in a more dissonant environment to build some tension before releasing it going back to the initial melody.
Track 4: Shasha by Maurício de Souza.
I began playing with Sharel Cassity in February of 2012. In this short time, not only her playing but also her compositions have contributed greatly to the evolution of the group. After hearing her tune "Kisor the Despisor", I began working on Shasha (that same night). The composition and the title came to me almost at the same time. Nicknames for my friends are always popping up in my head and "Shasha" popped up as I sat down and began thinking of the tune I was about to write. Since I was going to dedicate the tune to a fellow (outstanding) musician, I really focused on doing my best. In Shasha, the goal was to combine different ideas inspired by different sources while keeping Sharel's playing in mind. Some of the other inspirational sources were Beethoven (from when the sax comes in until the end of the piano interlude), Jobim (rhythmic figure used to separate musical ideas and sections), Pascoal (the tune is eccentric after all...), and Gismonti (fast melodic lines before the solo section and at the end of the tune). Sharel, Ben and Gary did a phenomenal job, it is a huge joy to hear my music played so well.
Track 5: Lá Vamos Nós by Luiz Eça.
As I mentioned previously, my dad/co-producer suggested this great tune and now we have a stylish Maracatú in our repertoire. Writing the arrangement for this tune was a lot of work but also a lot of fun. The fact that Sharel was enthusiastic about recording four instruments gave me plenty of room to be creative. Greg sounds great on both trumpet and flugelhorn, his solos are perfect. Sharel easily plays through most of the saxophone family and flute like they're all the same instrument. Trading ideas with Miho on top of this intricate bass line was challenging but a lot of fun. Gary was the anchor for the entire tune (he had a big ship to anchor).
Track 6: Invitation by Webster/Kaper.
It was such a pleasure to be in the studio with one of my favorite guitarists, Mike Stern, for a second time. I'm already looking forward to the third, fourth, fifth... times. Interesting fact about this track: I decided to play some figures just on the cymbals for the intro and switch to the 12/8 Latin rhythm at the beginning of the melody. But, on this take, I ended up staying on the cymbals until the bridge, which ended up being a really nice, unexpected change of events in the arrangement. Initially, I wanted to trade eights with Mike and Ben on this tune but Mike suggested I played a drum solo over the group figure (good man!). Like in "Here. There...", I had to adapt to a new idea overnight (literally), which was, once more, a great experience. Mike's and Ben's solos are killin'! Gary came up with the coolest bass line for this tune, which from the very beginning invites us (and the listeners) in.
Track 7: The Acceptance of Resolve by Sharel Cassity.
It is always a pleasure to play Sharel's tunes and I was really excited about recording her music. This peaceful, floating Jazz waltz is a perfect addition to the album. It provided yet another unique musical direction to the tracks. In it, Sharel displays her outstanding talents both as a composer and as a multi-instrumentalist. The expressive melody is well complimented by a crafty counter-melody beautifully played by Greg. Gary starts off the track, setting up the mood. In the solo section, which transitions to a groovy 9/8 for each chorus, Sharel rips it up on tenor sax, Greg plays his heart out on flugelhorn, and Miho blazes through the piano keys. In the shout chorus, the music appropriately gains intensity and reaches a new level of development and expression.
Tack 8: Different Directions by Maurício de Souza.
I always wanted to write a Jazz Ballad in a minor key. As I mentioned above, this tune is a musical reflection of frustrated love experiences. The unaccompanied opening melody represents how lonely life can be at times. The minor key for the A sections is, obviously, the sad emotions. The major quality of the bridge represents hope, the happy emotions that come from believing things will turn out ok. I decided to sustain this idea for a measure into the last A section (which is a half-step lower than the first A) before going back to the minor mood to represent the idea that hope dies hard. When I began writing this tune, Marc Copland's style of playing came to mind right away. His incredible and musical explorations with dissonance seemed to really fit the music I was writing. I had the immense pleasure of meeting Marc in 2010 by coincidence while parking to go hear him play in New York. When he agreed to record a couple of tunes for the album, I sent the chart to him right away. It was a double pleasure to be in the studio with one of my favorite Jazz pianists and also record my tune with one of my favorite Jazz pianists. In this tune, I used the chords more for texture and color than for traditional function (pretty much what I did in Shasha as well). After going through the tune a couple of times, I remember Gary saying, "It certainly makes a lot more sense now that Marc has played it". Gary played beautifully well. We recorded this tune with almost no isolation: piano and bass were in the same room (with no panels between instruments) and I opened the door to the drum booth halfway.
Track 9: Con Alma by Dizzy Gillespie.
This track is dedicated to my drum mentor and friend Joe Morello. Even after 166 (or so...) lessons, there was always something new to learn from him. Luckily, I also had countless chances to spend time with him, talking over dinner, lunch, a sandwich... The stories he told were life lessons. It was always very inspiring to hear him play live. His drum solos (especially the ones in 5) were incredible. When choosing tunes for the album, I decided to stick to the odd meter tradition and record this great Gillespie tune in the challenging 5/4 meter. Ben always plays extremely well in 5. Gary played with Morello for over thirty years so this was another walk in the park for him. Sharel sounds great, I really like her interpretation of the tune in this different light. Sharel's and Ben's trading of short ideas at the end of the tune is dazzling. My playing in this tune is my homage to Morello's outstanding contributions to Jazz drumming.
Track 10: Straight Up And Down by Chick Corea.
As always, it was a great pleasure to record Corea's music. This tune in particular was very challenging due to all its transitions and off-beat accents. John provided this bigger than life bass foundation for the tune (it was so strong it was making my entire car shake in the first mix we did). Sharel's playing is equally strong, making the walls shake. The result is a very energetic 4:14 minutes of music. Jerry plays a great vibes solo, almost melting the bars on his vibes. I had a blast trading eights with him and Sharel. And, since history tends to repeat itself, we were once more pressed with time to record this track (like when we recorded "Firm Roots" in "Here. There..."). In hindsight, it was a good thing, it made us play it faster!