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. The intro is a link between the first wave of compositions and this new, second wave. 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 contrast and excitement before going back to the initial melody. The overall mood of the music is tranquil and contented.
Track 4: Bate Papo by Maurício de Souza.
"Bate Bapo" means, "chit chat". In the music, the converstaion starts with the bass and the drums. The piano joins in with the melody and the saxophone comes in later with the bridge. Since improvised music is all about communication and interaction, this medium, soothing Bossa conversation continues throughout the tune.
Track 5: BB by Maurício de Souza.
"BB" stands for "BeeBee" which, at the time, was my girlfriend's nickname (it can also stand for "Bossa Brasil" as a secondary thought...). This tune is dedicated to Emily Cyrier. When I began working on it, I wanted to write the sweetest, most delicate music I had written up until that point, in order to express my love through the notes. The use of brushes was a logical decision for this soothing and happy medium Bossa.
Track 6: Paisagens by Maurício de Souza.
Meaning "Landscapes" in Portuguese, this tune explores different Brazilian rhythms (different musical landscapes), starting with a "Partido Alto" in the intro, a "Baião" for the first part of the head and solos, and a slow Bossa for the second part of the head. The idea is to take the listener on a trip through the rich musical landscape of Brazilian music.
Track 7: Ave Maria by Franz Schubert.
Growing up in Brasília, Brasil, I used to listen to mostly my dad's library of American jazz and improvised Brazilian music (in the car or at home). However, there was one song I used to listen to in my mom's car. One of the local radio stations used to play Ave Maria every day around 6pm. Mom would always turn on the radio to listen to it when we were driving back from "Casa Thomas Jefferson", where I studied English at the time. Years later, I had this idea to play it as a slow Bossa. I mentioned it to my good friend, pianist Bob Rodriguez, and, at first, he was a little hesitant. A few days later, while I was talking to him, the idea came up in conversation and he said, "Let's try it! I have the music for it, we can give it a shot on our next gig." And so we did and it instantly became a crowd and group favorite. I remember mentioning to Bob that we should record it as soon as we could! Unlike many jazz tunes, Ave Maria isn't that flexible when it comes to how fast/slow it can be played. It has its own unique tempo in which it sounds and feels good. The perfect way to set it up is to have Bob play a beautiful piano intro and bring us in at the right tempo for the song. Just like we did on the recording.
Track 8: O Barquinho by Roberto Menescal.
A Bossa Nova classic and a very easy choice for a composition by another Brazilian composer. We have been playing this tune on gigs for as far back as I can remember. It was a pleasure to record it and to do so in one take. It's such a joyful Bossa with such a positive, soothing energy to it. If I close my eyes when listening to or playing it, I can clearly feel myself in a small boat, enjoying the ocean breeze and the warmth of a beautiful, sunny day.
Track 9: Valsinha Para Elvira by Maurício de Souza.
This track is dedicated to my mom. Waltz is one of her favorite styles of music. On a Saturday afternoon, I had finished teaching my lessons for the day at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts. I wanted to write a waltz and inspiration hit like magic that day. I wrote the entire tune in two hours (with the intro, melody, solo section, everything!). We had a live version of the tune which was recorded for a live video I produced. I thought it would be nice to have one tune with a live feel to it in the album so I decided to close off this journey with it.