• On Accents, Rio, Brazil-domiciled percussionist Scott Feiner presents his New York-based quartet “Pandeiro Jazz” with saxophonist Joel Frahm, guitarist Freddie Bryant, and bassist John Martin in 6 band originals and 4 jazz standards, including by Herbie Hancock and Mal Waldron, on his ZOHO debut.
• The pandeiro is a Brazilian hand drum similar to a tambourine, and Scott Feiner is the first jazz artist who has successfully employed the instrument in the place of a drum set and Brazilian percussion sections.
• Scott Feiner’s prior CD project was nominated for a 2009 LATIN GRAMMY award!
Accents is my third CD since the Pandeiro Jazz experiment began in 2005. I say “experiment”, because that’s really what it was for me at the time. I wondered if I could record and perform with a jazz group using only this small Brazilian hand drum in place of a drum set. Would the musicians feel comfortable? And would people want to listen to it? Well it’s been five years since that first CD, “Pandeiro Jazz”, was recorded, and it looks like the experiment worked.
What especially pleases me about “Accents” is that I was able to record it with the same musicians who were on “Pandeiro Jazz” saxophonist Joel Frahm, guitarist Freddie Bryant and bassist Joe Martin. That 2005 recording was a first step. “Accents”, on the other hand, captures an entirely different moment.
I’ve known Joel, Freddie and Joe for about 20 years. They were all a part of my musical life in the early nineties in New York City when I was a performing guitarist. They are three of the most wonderful musicians I’ve ever known. We don’t get to see each other very often these days, as I spend most of my time in Rio de Janeiro, but whenever we’re able to get together, it’s always very natural making music with them.
I discovered the pandeiro during my first trip to Brazil in 1999. My fascination and love for the instrument were so strong that I wound up moving to Rio. A few years after that move, I discovered it was possible to combine my roots as a jazz musician with my new instrument, the pandeiro. What you hear on this CD is the result of these experiences.
The CD’s opening track, Alone is one of my favorite Freddie Bryant compositions. His original version was inspired by a Maya Angelou poem of the same name and played at a slow tempo. Here we play it with a med-up 6/8 feel. Wonderful solos by Joel, Freddie and Joe.- I co-wrote Accents with Freddie specifically for this recording. I came up with melody and rhythmic ideas in Rio and emailed the ideas to Freddie in NY to add the finishing touches. The main section of the song is based on the Brazilian Ijexá rhythm, but then it goes a few other places.
One of Herbie Hancock’s most well-known tunes, Watermelon Man, is given a whole new feeling thanks to Freddie’s very unique arrangement. Also worth noting is Freddie’s wonderful blues playing, which is something you don’t hear very often on nylon-string guitar.
7 na Ciranda is a composition of mine. Ciranda is a rhythm and dance form from the Northeast of Brazil. One day I found myself playing around with it at a faster tempo than it’s usually played, and in 7/8. The next thing I knew I was writing this tune. It starts in 7/8, then goes to 6/8 for the B section with one bar of 5/8 (just to make sure everyone is paying attention!). I love Freddie’s work here on 12 string guitar, and Joel’s solo is simply on fire. Also, listen closely to the creative subtlety of Joe’s bass lines while accompanying Joel’s solo.
Share & Share Alike is another one of Freddie’s tunes which he wrote for his two daughters when they were young. Freddie presented it to us in the rehearsal for the recording session, and we all really enjoyed the vibe. The repeating sections during the melody offered some nice space for me to have a bit of fun.
Scott Feiner & Pandeiro Jazz, standing in front of the Jazz Standard in Manhattan. From left : Freddie Bryant, Scott Feiner, Joel Frahm, Joe Martin. Photo: Ira Fox.
Playing ballads is one of the most challenging things one can do on pandeiro. Mal Waldron’s Soul Eyes, made famous by John Coltrane, is a ballad well-loved by jazz musicians. Here we interpreted it as a samba/ballad. Freddie’s intro, as well as Joel’s ethereal interpretation of the melody, are beautiful. - I wrote Before your Eyes in the early 1990s when I was still performing as a guitarist, and deeply involved with black & white photography. Back then I recorded it as a slow/medium jazz waltz. Here, with the pandeiro, it worked better as an up-tempo 6/8.
Joel explains that the title for his samba/bossa Jobimiola came from mixing together “Jobim” and Hemiola , a type of metrical pattern in music. Joel was used to playing it at a faster tempo, but I convinced him that it would also work nicely a bit slower. This is simply a wonderful tune, and both Joel and Freddie’s impeccable solos tell stories, the way great solos should. - Playing a duo tune with Joel has become a tradition on Pandeiro Jazz gigs, and Old Devil Moon is a favorite of ours. Here I start with a bolero-like feel, moving to a baião-like groove and eventually up-tempo samba during Joel’s solo. Having a one-on-one musical conversation with Joel is always special.
Chiclete com Banana is the only tune on the record by a Brazilian composer. A classic, with the two most famous versions by Jackson do Pandeiro and Gilberto Gil. Ours is an instrumental version, but the original lyrics speak of the mixing of North American and Brazilian music: “I’ll only put be-bop in my samba when Uncle Sam learns to play the tambourine”. With that message present in the lyrics, I thought it would be humorous to include it on the CD. The arrangement is Freddie’s, and he did exactly what the song speaks of, weaving be-bop lines throughout this samba. Joe surprised us all by de-tuning his E string down to a D-flat at the end of the song to emulate a Brazilian surdo drum, while Joel imitates a cuica on his tenor. Just wonderful spontaneity by both of them.
Accents, both spoken and musical, have been omnipresent themes in my life while living in Brazil over the last nine years. Out of curiosity, I looked in a dictionary for the various definitions of the word “accent”. The one I found most interesting was “a distinctive manner of expression”. I hope that’s what we’ve captured on this recording.
Recorded at Twinz Studios, River Edge, New Jersey on October 12, 2007 and March 22, 2008. Engineer: Manfred Knoop. Edited by David Feldman at Vira Studio, Rio de Janeiro. Mixed by Carlos Fuchs at Tenda da Raposa, Rio de Janeiro. Mastering by Luiz Tornaghi at Batmastersom, Rio de Janeiro. Producer: Scott Feiner. Cover photograph: Jason Gardner (www.jasongardner.net). Group photo: Ira Fox (www.irafox.com). Package design: Jack Frisch. Executive producer: Joachim “Jochen” Becker.
Arrangements of Watermelon Man and Chiclete com Banana by Freddie Bryant.