Among all the dialogues in jazz the encounter between the acoustic guitar and the double bass might be the most intimate - and at the same time one of the rarest. Such an encounter can only succeed if a delicate, fine-tuning between the two musicians develops and their chemistry results in blind understanding. They have to be kindred spirits, creating a sort of secret fraternity. But the two musicians in question are an odd pair of brothers : one of them hasn´t even finished his thirtieth year of life, the other one looks back on five decades of contributions to jazz history. Starting from the shores of Lisbon, where explorers like Vasco Da Gama embarked on their adventurous journeys, the younger one conquered his way onto the international music scene, while his elder counterpart was involved in the making of modern jazz in the narrow streets between the skyscrapers of Manhattan. They hadn´t even known each other until minutes before starting to work together in the studio. Thus the magic that guitarist Joel Xavier and jazz bass giant Ron Carter created for this recording is all the more amazing.
Lisbon guitarist Joel Xavier has always been full of surprises. Being born on the day of the ‘Carnation Revolution’; playing football / soccer in his youth beside future superstar Luis Figo; ranking among the most famous Latin guitarists of the world at the age of 23. It was from this kind of astonishingly diverse background that he continued the steps of his career. But Joel was not content with sharing the scene as virtuoso partner of Larry Coryell, Bireli Lagrene or Tomatito in the US, Havana or Barcelona. Four years ago he completely re-invented himself - in an acoustic way. The ‘new musette’ style, created by his friend Richard Galliano, inspired him to devise a language that links jazz and fado in an intimate context and talks in a new Portuguese idiom. It is this idiom that has given birth to the nine miniatures that you can witness on this recording.
"When I composed the last bars, out of the blue the name Ron Carter struck me. I was convinced that only his bass would suit the mood of these songs", recalls Xavier. ‘Songs’ not ‘pieces’, mind you, since Xavier is a singer through and through. You get the impression of listening to a wistful ‘fadista’ when he begins to play a theme. Never would he - contrary to most of players of his generation - cast a cloud over a melody by starting to improvise too early. The melody first - and then the virtuosity, that´s his ‘old-fashioned’ way.
It might be a little bit presumptuous to contact the ‘best bass player of the world’ and invite him to be the guest on your next CD. But Xavier was convinced that on the other side of the Atlantic he possessed a kindred spirit, a ‘singer’ on his instrument - just like him.
Rhythm, swing and especially melody - Carter´s playing assembles all these virtues. He is familiar with the duo situation, of course - just think of his masterpieces with Jim Hall from the 1970s. And certainly he knows the heartbeat of Latin music: his recordings with Jobim, Airto Moreira and Hermeto Pascoal are legendary. But it was still a surprise when Carter agreed to do the session. Xavier sends his compositions and then is welcomed in a New York studio. Moments later a wonderful, three hour-long dialogue begins: "In spite of the enormous difference in age, Ron treated me as an equal musician", says Xavier. "Originally I had planned to add a second guitar track into the arrangement. But soon I realized how intimate the atmosphere of our playing was, how much space it opened. Ron was a very nice guy, we laughed a lot about musical jokes - and since then we are close friends."
So here we can witness a unique, close collaboration: Xavier’s ‘neo fado’ with its different cantabile variations joins with Carter´s flexible basis, at times stepping out in a relaxed swinging manner. Listen how the quiet, foklore-like pathos of the guitar goes together with the glissandi of Carter´s cheerful interlude in "Moments". The bitter-sweet ‘saudade’ is reflected in the minor-major change of "Maria" - nostalgic memoirs of an exile in the New World. And in "Destiny" the plaintive melody dissolves into a lively swinging cadence of improvisation. The transatlantic friendship is sealed; the Portuguese soul firmly anchored in the jazzy heart of America. Never have the waters of the Hudson River listened to sounds like these.
- Side A
- Side B
- 9.Simple Things04:22