[16 September 2008]
A Brazilian percussionist long based in New York, Portinho has worked with such Latin Jazz royalty as Paquito D’Rivera, Airto Moreira and Gato Barbieri, even if his approach echoes an era when Rio was awash with trios led from the back by guys like Dom Um Romão and Helcio Milito. As such then, his playing is bossa-subtle to the marrow, catalysing the arrangements without overpowering them, cradling the melodies so they tingle rather than sting. On a setlist which swings between jazz standards (“Footprints”, “Satin Doll”) and well travelled tributes to the old country (Ary Barroso’s “Aquarela do Brasil”, Hermeto Pascoal’s “Viva O Rio De Janeiro”), Portinho moves with the grace and vitality of a player half his age, as does trombonist and longtime Claudio Roditi associate, Jay Ashby, whose lyricism carries Carlos Lyra’s “Canção Que Morre No Ar”. Pianist Klaus Mueller and bassists Itaiguara Brandão and Lincoln Goines are likewise flawless, and while it’s this very stylistic fidelity that probably precludes wider appeal, this is a beautifully executed listen all the same.