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.

Hermeto: Voice And Wind

The new album, out now!