Jazz CD Reviews

Scott Feiner and Pandeiro Jazz – A View From Below

Sure to be on some folks' top-ten lists for this year.

Published on June 10, 2014

Scott Feiner and Pandeiro Jazz – A View From Below

Scott Feiner and Pandeiro Jazz – A View From Below [TrackList follows] – self 884501972758, 49:03 [3/25/14] ****1/2:

(Scott Feiner – pandeiro; Guilherme Monteiro – guitar; Rafael Vernet – Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer)

On the self-released A View From Below, percussionist Scott Feiner continues to bring a little-known instrument to the forefront. As the title of Feiner’s trio, Pandeiro Jazz, implies he utilizes the Brazilian hand drum called the pandeiro, which looks like a tambourine but has a wider range of rhythmic sounds, akin to a handheld drum kit. When put into service by a master percussionist, nothing else is needed. Feiner’s previous albums were mostly acoustic and relied on a mix of Latin jazz material, covers and some originals. Here, on his fourth outing as leader, Feiner pens all the tunes and the emphasis is on a modern, fusion-inclined quality which has a power trio arrangement. This is not Brazilian jazz, although there are some Latin influences which permeate some tracks. Feiner is joined by two Brazilian players, electric guitarist Guilherme Monteiro and keyboardist Rafael Vernet. Vernet switches from Fender Rhodes to Wurlitzer and also supplies bass notes via his left hand. Feiner explains about his music, what it was like working with his new trio members and other aspects of his latest album during a short online promo video.

Bold rhythmic statements and memorable melodies are tantamount, which are part of Feiner’s personable style. The 49-minute record opens with the grooving title track, which percolates with soulful, 1970s-era Fender Rhodes, a solid backbeat and Monteiro’s somewhat distorted electric guitar lines. Feiner’s odd time signatures are more noticeable on “Raizes,” i.e., “Roots,” which commences with a loosely structured pandeiro solo intro, which shows Feiner’s talent on the ten-inch drum. He employs a Brazilian-tinted groove, then a four-on-the-floor backbeat and then a shuffle. Monteiro enters with a rock-jazz guitar tone reminiscent of pop-jazz luminaries such as Larry Carlton. Steely Dan’s inspiration can also be heard. The interplay between keyboards and guitar and the easy, rhythmic sway would feel right at home on any mid-70s Dan LP. Hints of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker can also be detected in the B-section of “Raro Momento.” Conversely, the A-section is jazz-related, and according to Feiner is evocative of both Charles Mingus and Weather Report.

“Mother Nature” (the longest cut) holds a light funk-rock groove, but is peppered with a salsa-shaded segment. The mid-tempo saunter and vigorous beat provide plenty of room for Vernet, who makes good use of Wurlitzer for flowing single-note turns and muscular chord rolls. Another notable piece is “Sienna,” which is based on a smooth 6/8 pattern and surges warmly due to a medium-tempo waltz-like slant.

Authentic Brazilian rhythms are only apparent on two numbers. The popping, up-tempo “O Forno” (Portuguese for “The Oven”) includes the baião musical scale. However, “O Forno” is not a straightforward Latin-jazz tune, but focuses on fast-paced fusion. Monteiro races across his fretboard like Al Di Meola, and Vernet follows suit on his keyboards. The B-section of “Fonte” (in English, “Source”) contains an ijexá rhythm. Feiner doesn’t make this the cornerstone of the track, but rather merges the traditional cadence into a bigger arrangement which stresses stateside fusion elements. A View From Below is readymade for fusion fans who want something eminently melodic but with a fresher viewpoint. Don’t pass this by. This very likeable album is sure to be on some folks’ top-ten lists for this year.

TrackList: A View from Below; Raizes; O Forno; Mother Nature; Sienna; Raro Momento; Fonte; Jasmine; The Visitor.

—Doug Simpson




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