Livio Almeida
Brasília Sessions

Release Date: July 19, 2024
UPC Code: 880956240626
Availability: Worldwide
Selection #: ZM 202406

1. SAMBASUS Livio Almeida 5:15
2. PARTIDO CERRADO Livio Almeida 5:02
3. BRASÍLIA AFRO SAMBA Livio Almeida 6:27
4. FOLHAS SECAS Nelson Cavaquinho/Guilherme de Brito 8:31
5. ROCKS IN MY PATH (Pedras no caminho) Livio Almeida7:35
6. DITMAS AVENUE Livio Almeida 7:39
7. UM GIRASSOL DA COR DO SEU CABELO (A sunflower the color of your hair) Márcio Borges/Lô Borges 6:54
8. Q TRAIN SAMBA (Sambete do trem Q) Livio Almeida 5:57

Livio Almeida
- tenor saxophone, compositions and arrangements
Misael Silvestre - keys
Daniel Castro - bass
Pedro Almeida - drums

When Livio Almeida arrived on the New York jazz scene a few years back, we were all put on notice. There’s a new Brazilian tenor saxophonist who can shred. His lights-out playing and performances undoubtedly created a stir among fellow artists and aficionados. Almeida was quickly absorbed into Arturo O’Farrill’s musical crew. This is how even more began to realize and recognize the Brazilian’s incredible prowess, as he began to tour with Arturo in several formations. Almeida’s 2016 CD release Action and Reaction, produced by O’Farrill, received enthusiastic reviews and left listeners wanting more.

Brasília Sessions isn’t just more. It’s one of the most remarkable Brazilian jazz albums in recent memory. It showcases Almeida as a composer, arranger, soloist, bandleader, and conceptual artist. One has come to expect stunning playing on an Almeida project, but the start-to-finish sonics of this album reveal his meticulous attention to detail. We hear ambient soundscapes, timbral contrast, legato lines, and feel-good rhythms.

“This music is deeply rooted in my Brazilian tradition. It’s a synthesis of my cultural experience as a Brazilian immigrant in New York,” he said. Recorded in Brasília, his hometown and Brazil’s capital, the album is indeed a full circle for the maestro. Joining him are tremendous artists Misael Silvestre (keys), Daniel Castro (bass), Pedro Almeida (drums).

Sambasus begins with sounds simulating a jazz club. Welcome to Village Vanguard, Birdland, or pick your favorite spot. Almeida welcomes listeners with this song because samba is the most well-known Brazilian rhythms. This modern samba greets, prepares, and habituates listeners for what’s to come. For jazz theory buffs: the suffix “sus” refers to the suspended chords that shaped the tune’s progression. Indeed, it’s these very chords that give the piece such rich harmonic movement and texture.

The syncopated bass intro on Partido Cerrado brings a lively vibe. Almeida composed this piece as an homage to Cerrado, a region in Eastern Brazil known for its grassy savannas. “I grew up in this environment, and I’m very familiar with it,” said Almeida. To connect the music to the land, Almeida invokes a partido alto, a variation of samba.

Brasília Afro Samba builds from the ground up with a bass groove that feels like the opening soundtrack of a James Bond movie or another thriller. Almeida invokes the feel of Afro-Samba, similar to what you might hear on a quintessential Baden Powell number. By now, you know that Almeida puts his own stamp on his homages. The angular melody pairs with atypical harmonies on the B section. “I wanted the melodic intricacies to emulate Brasília’s architecture,” he said.

Brasília is an architectural wonder, with its construction beginning in 1956 based on a plan designed by Lúcio Costa. Conceived as a modern architectural utopia, Brasília’s bold buildings convey a sense of futurism with vibrant white structures and enigmatic silhouettes.

Folhas Secas (“Dry Leaves”) was composed by Nelson Cavaquinho, an acclaimed twentieth-century singer and composer. Almeida selected this searching and elegant piece, which was immortalized by singer Elis Regina in a 1973 recording. “This seemed like the perfect classic samba to include,” said Almeida. He turned in a tremendous instrumental arrangement manifested with a mellow and tasteful performance. Almeida shines as a soloist on this number, as he thoughtfully delivers melodic ideas with spirit and vim.

Almeida wrote Rocks In My Path (“Pedras No Caminho”) because he was inspired by this quote: “Rocks in my path. I keep them all. With them I shall build a castle someday.” The upbeat and can-do spirit is felt throughout this piece, which is in a minor key and set to a 7/8 meter. These elements of tension gradually give away or resolve to the rhythm of samba. Almeida tells a story with this piece, and he’s bringing us all along on this upward and even motivational journey. There’s a reason this music is hopeful. Almeida wanted it that way.

Groove with Ditmas Avenue and nod along to its well-placed percussion. It’s named after the street where Almeida lives in Brooklyn. “It represents the dizzying nature of the city while also connecting with my ancestry,” said Almeida. He employs the Baião and Maracatu rhythms, which are characteristic of the

northeastern part of Brazil. Almeida’s grandparents hailed from this area to Brasília decades ago. Through the use of modal harmony, he takes the piec through different key centers to evoke a sense of migration and movement. Indeed, Almeida and his family seem to be most at home when they’re in motion. Such restlessness can result in the collision of ideas, which is the very stuff of genius.

Um Girassol Da Cor Do Seu Cabelo (“A sunflower the color of your hair”) was written by Lô Borges, who is frequently associated with the “Clube da Esquina” which also includes Milton Nascimento, famous singer and multi -instrumentalist born in Rio de Janeiro but raised in the State of Minas Gerais. This piece is a mashup of a familiar melody with a saxophone trio. Almeida explores what can be when you take something known and give it a colorful and appealing twist.

Almeida wrote Q Train Samba (“Sambete do trem Q”) with a playful and sunny vibe, and you can readily hear the allusion to “Take the A Train.” We’re all passengers on this adventurous ride with Almeida driving towards a world of no musical borders. Brasília Sessions is part biography and part geography. It draws upon the seminal chapters of Almeida’s life, born in Brasília and living in New York City. It’s a joy to experience his mind and music traversing hemispheres with such skill and wonder.

Kabir Sehgal

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orbis Studios, Brasília, by Marcos Pagani, in January 2024. Photography: George Kopp. Art Direction and Package Design: Al Gold. Producers: Livio Almeida, Kabir Sehgal, Joachim “Jochen” Becker. Executive Producer: Joachim “Jochen” Becker.

Publishers: Lalmeidmusic (1 – 3, 5, 6, 8); Universal Music Publishing (4, 7).

Livio plays exclusively Selmer Paris Saxophones and Vandoren Paris Mouthpieces and Reeds.