Erik Charlston - JazzBrasil - Voice And Wind

Release Date:

Record Label:
Sunnyside Records


  1. Voz E Vento
  2. A Gandaia Das Ondas / Pedra E Areia
  3. Maracuta Blue
  4. Os Guizos
  5. Fatima
  6. Alegria Do Vaqueiro
  7. Nem Um Talvez
  8. Loro
  9. A Fala Da Paixao
  10. Aquela Coisa
  11. Bonus: Nas Quebradas
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About This Album

From his earliest days, vibraphonist Erik Charlston has been attracted to a wide spectrum of musical sounds. His simultaneous introductions to classical and soul music along with his exposure to the African-inspired street drummers near his childhood home in South Chicago prepared him for his multi-faceted career as a professional percussionist covering many genres.

That mélange of early sounds also propelled him toward challenging music without boundaries. His quest for mind-bending music led him to one of the most celebrated musical geniuses and idiosyncratic minds of the past fifty years, the Brazilian composer/performer Hermeto Pascoal. The influence of Pascoal and his musical catalog led Charlston to create his JazzBrasil ensemble and to record his new album, Hermeto: Voice and Wind.

Being from Chicago, Charlston had a wide breadth of musical exposure. His school friends were in soul and funk groups. Jazz was an influence in and out of the home, not to mention that his mother was a classical vocalist who instilled the importance of lieder and art song in her son’s musical vocabulary. After moving to New York City, Charlston became involved in musical projects of all description, from jazz ensembles to commercial work and symphony orchestras to Broadway.

It was Charlston’s friend, percussionist and Brazilian music expert Gordon Gottlieb, who introduced the vibist to Pascoal’s unpredictable genius and to his style, which is fearless, but respectful of tradition. Charlston was immediately attracted to the way Pascoal combined many different musical cultures with his own brilliantly twisted music. Charlston reflects: “Tradition and near insanity are close brothers in Hermeto’s world.” Inspired by all of this, Charlston created JazzBrasil, a band built with the intention of melding the harmonic sophistication of jazz to the rhythmic intricacies and variation of Brazilian music.

JazzBrasil incorporated a tremendous blend of jazz and Brazilian music experts, including woodwind master Ted Nash, piano great Mark Soskin, bassist Jay Anderson, drummer/percussionist Rogério Boccato and percussionist Café. The group recorded the album Essentially Hermeto, which was released in 2012.

An integral association that Charlston made was with Brazilian keyboardist Jovino Santos Neto. Neto was a one-time member of Pascoal’s touring ensemble and had access to original scores and first hand knowledge of the composer’s approach to music. Neto’s influence and suggestions helped provide a spark and many musical choices for JazzBrasil as it continued to evolve.

Over the past seven years, JazzBrasil’s repertoire continued to grow and it became apparent that it was time to record. The group’s musical canon had also incorporated tunes from other composers, including the great Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti and singer-songwriter Lenine. The ensemble was able to reconvene at Avatar Studios in New York City in 2017 with the aid of engineer Adam Abeshouse. The only substitution from the original ensemble was the addition of the versatile percussionist Keita Ogawa instead of the group’s regular percussionist, Café.

The recording begins with Pascoal’s striking baião “Voz e Vento,” here with a very different arrangement from the original featuring a 6/8 rhythm feel and contrasting sections. Charlston chose Lenine’s beautiful “A Gandaia Das Ondas/Pedra e Areia” because it reminded him of Faure’s “Clair de Lune” and its imagery of the ebb and flow of the ocean being like that of life. Charlston’s “Maracatu Blue” uses the north Brazilian maracatu rhythm in a blues form to great effect while Pascoal’s delicate “Os Guizos” features a harmonically expansive duet between Charlston’s vibes and Soskin’s piano.

Pascoal’s “Fatima” is named for his oldest daughter. Charlston dramatically rearranged the piece so that it begins with a chromatic whirlwind that switches to a more traditional choro, highlighting the clarinet of Nash. The joyful “Alegria do Vaqueiro” is a traditional cowboy song from Brazil that celebrates the sound and movement of the herds across the plains, the ensemble making it into a percussion led highlight. The gorgeous melody of “Nem Um Talvez” was first heard on Miles Davis’s Live/Evil and is performed here by Nash’s flute supported by marimba and bass.

Egberto Gismonti’s buoyant “Lôro” is introduced by Charlston’s dancing marimba before the band tears into the appealing baião. “A Fala Da Paixão” is another Gismonti composition, which has Charlston’s marimba providing a space for an intimate conversation between Soskin’s melodica and Nash’s clarinet. Pascoal’s super dynamic samba “Aquela Coisa” is a typical set closer, allowing the energy of the two percussionists to really shine. The asymmetrical “Nas Quebradas” is an encore of sorts and shows the playfulness of Pascoal’s amazingly fun writing.

Erik Charlston has been intrigued by the sound of surprise since his childhood. It is no wonder that he has been so drawn to the inexplicable delights of the music of Hermeto Pascoal. The music that Charlston makes with JazzBrasil is a delightful tribute to the Brazilian legend and can be heard to astonishing effect on Hermeto: Voice and Wind.

Released September 6, 2019

Erik Charlston – vibes, marimba & vocals
Ted Nash – saxophones, flute & clarinet
Mark Soskin – piano & melodica
Jay Anderson – bass
Rogério Boccato – drums & percussion
Keita Ogawa – percussion


Erik Charlston - JazzBrasil - Voice And Wind

Erik Charlston JazzBrasil – Jazz Weekly

Author: George W. Harris

Lush and warm atmospheres are created by Erik Charlston, as he plays vibes, marimba and even sings a bit with a suave team of Ted Nash/fl-sax-cl, Mark Soskin/p, Jay Anderson/b, Rogerio Boccato/dr and Keita Ogawa/perc.

Tropical marimba veers into a rich salsa for Nash’s alto on the cool toned “Voz E Vento” with a post bop percussion simmering for Nash on “Maracatu Blue.” A coy “Fatima” combines wood blocks and clarinet with a lovely flute floating over the percussion on “Nem Um Talvez.” Charlston’s voice is earthy for the folk-themed “Alegria Do Vaqueiro” and emotive as the team saunters during “A Gandaia Das Ondas/Pedra E Area.” The team shows bop chops with good vibes on “Aquela Coisa” and a sensuous samba features the breezy melodica provided by Soskin during “A Fala Da Paixo.” Summer breezes!

Erik Charlston - JazzBrasil - Voice And Wind

New York City Jazz Record – Hermeto: Voice and Wind

Source: New York Jazz Record
Author: Anna Steegmann

Vibraphonist Erik Charlston is a versatile artist who has performed/recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, the New York Philharmonic, Tony Bennett, Metallica, Sting and Elton John, to name a few. Growing up in Chicago, he was exposed to classical, soul music and street drummers, which prepared him for a career in many genres. More than seven years ago he founded the sextet JazzBrasil, inspired by Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal’s way of combining different musical cultures, a fearless style nevertheless respectful of tradition. Its debut Essentially Hermeto from 2012 was critically acclaimed and won the sextet many fans.

Hermeto: Voice and Wind showcases interpretations of six of Pascoal’s compositions as well as works of guitarist Egberto Gismonti, singer-songwriter Lenine, a traditional tune and a Charlston original. The sextet is made up of excellent musicians: Ted Nash (saxophone, flute and clarinet), Mark Soskin (piano and melodica), Keita Ogawa (percussion), Rogério Boccato (drums and percussion) and Jay Anderson (bass). Charlston also plays marimba and sings in Portuguese on three tunes.

Listeners will find themselves captivated by the earthy traditional Brazilian rhythms and highly sophisticated jazz harmonies. There are many outstanding tracks: on “Nem Um Talvez”, first heard on Miles Davis’ Live/Evil, Nash’s flute leads the beautiful dreamy melody supported by marimba and bass; Charlston’s “Maracatu Blue” infuses Brazilian rhythms with the blues to astonishing effect; “Os Guizos” presents a harmonically expansive duet between vibraphone and piano; and in “A Fala Da Paixao” marimba makes room for an intimate conversation between melodica and clarinet. The most energetic and exuberant tune and percussion highlight is found on “Alegria do Vaqueiro”, a traditional cowboy song that evokes the sound and movement of herds across the plains. Try as you may, you will not find fault with this recording. You might just wish you could understand Portuguese and the lyrics.

Erik Charlston - JazzBrasil - Voice And Wind

Percussive Notes – Hermeto Voice And Wind

Source: Percussive Notes
Author: N. Scott Robinson

Hermeto: Voice and Wind is vibist Erik Charlston’s second recording featuring the music of Hermeto Pascoal, the inventive multi-instrumental icon from Brazil. The recording features his band, JazzBrasil, with Charlston on vibes, marimba, and voice with Ted Nash on reeds/winds, Mark Soskin on piano and melodica, Jay Anderson on bass, Rogério Boccato on drums and percussion, and Keita Ogawa on percussion.

One of the highlights for this listener is the jazz marimba playing of Charlston. His infectious rhythmic sense as a jazz soloist coupled with fine recording production put the marimba in a spotlight role when featured on this recording such as on the opening track, “Voz e Vento.” He is particularly complemented by the outstanding saxophone soloist Ted Nash on “Maracatu Blue.”

I found Charlston’s overall musicianship as both a jazz vibist and marimbist to bring up the most immediate shortlist pantheon of great jazz mallet players. Charlston’s name doesn’t typically come to mind, but it most assuredly should as he has the confidently endless flowing improvisational ability of a Mike Mainieri on the vibes as evidenced on “Os Guizos.” His impressive ma-rimba playing and flexibility is akin to that of the late Dave Samuels, and his ability to convincingly blend the mallet instruments across the entire recording as inventive accompaniment is Dave Friedman-esque! In a single performer there is so much variety and skilled musicianship as a mallet player that it’s easy to overlook his convincingly Brazilian sounding vocal ability.

The rhythm section of JazzBrasil is a tight and complementary unit with the always outstanding Japanese percussionist Keita Ogawa blending nicely throughout. Hermeto: Voice and Wind is so much more than an homage to the great Brazilian maestro. That Charlston and JazzBrasil know Pascoal’s music well is evident throughout, as the Brazilian authenticity of their performances goes hand in hand with their strong jazz sensibilities.

  • – N. Scott Robinson