Jovino Santos Neto
Tiger Turn Records
BY CARLOS SNAIDER
Spontaneous musical creation, carrying the extended presence of the performer through continuous moments of music making, is a tremendous gift to any listener and a testament to the healing power of sound. Pianist and composer Jovino Santos Neto’s 2021 release Luz is a profound celebration of such spontaneity, achievable only by a master of creative music such as himself. With Luz, Santos Neto, a long-time presence in Seattle and a native of Brazil where he was renowned for his collaboration with legendary musician Hermeto Pascoal, presents eight solo piano pieces recorded with no plan or preparation before the one-day recording session.
The achievement and resulting beauty cannot be overstated. Each song is its own journey traversed by Santos Neto’s consciousness, rooted in the story of each composition, and animated by Santos Neto’s musings in the moment of execution. Each piece begins with a free improvisation, as if he is listening for the direction to take, and eventually finds his way into grooves and themes that feature his signature blend of jazz harmony with Brazilian musical styles. There is a sense of intimacy throughout, which speaks to the relationships and untold stories Santos Neto holds with each piece.
Santos Neto, in selecting his repertoire, presents a delightful array of Brazilian styles: samba (“A Cerca de Macaco”), choro (“Illuminado”, “Choro de Inverno”), bossa nova (“De Mansinho”) and Northeastern Brazilian baião (with covers of The Beatles’ “Black Bird” and Hermeto Pascoal’s “Bebê”). Two re-imaginings of Hermeto Pascoal compositions are special treats; the ballad “Campinas”, which was the first piece Santos Neto learned when he joined Pascoal’s group in 1977, and “Bebê”, one of Pascoal’s most celebrated compositions. Stylistically, expect subtle yet gripping contrasts in density, velocity, and intensity throughout.
Perhaps the most amazing part of this album is that in addition to the heart-stirring resonance from Jovino’s piano, there is the sound of him, listening and discovering along with you. Once again, a testament to the power of spontaneity. Listening is recommended to be done in one sitting, as the aliveness of the music makes for an experience not unlike a deeply moving concert.