O Som Do Jazz: Go!
David Manson has been a mainstay on the Florida music scene forever, and we are the better for it. He was a member of the original Bogus Pomp band performing the music of Frank Zappa and a member of the most notable experimental jazz group Shim. He is director of the EMIT series highlighting truly creative music, teaches in the MIRA program (Pro Tools) and jazz studies at St. Petersburg College, and is the director of the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, which begins its 12th annual event this Wednesday through Sunday, February 26-March 1.
One of Manson’s most impressive projects has been his Brazilian group O Som Do Jazz, who have graced the scene in and around St. Petersburg for years. The group just released its third album, the delightful Go! Recorded at MIRA Studio in St. Petersburg, this album was released in 2019 and has received critical acclaim. Manson, who plays trombone and percussion, wrote a dozen of the album’s compositions. The other two belong to vocalist Andrea Moraes Manson from Rio de Janeiro, who also plays percussion.
This bouncy gem highlights, as Manson reminds us, Brazilian music in many forms: samba, bossa nova, MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), balanço, and baião (driving rhythm from northeastern Brazil). And this is dancing album, meaning that Andrea’s voice dances with the band on the six songs she sings, and on most others two instruments play in harmony or in unison, intertwining melodies as they go.
José Valentino Ruiz, a Latin Grammy winner and multi-instrumentalist best known for his remarkable work on flute, is featured on four tracks. Austin Vickery plays soprano and tenor saxophones on a number of songs, and Alfredo Rivera’s guitar accents several as well. The piano work of Jeremy Douglass is lovely, and it is impossible to overstate the contribution of the La Lucha rhythm section of Alejandro Arenas, bass, and Mark Feinman, drums. Feinman’s time in particular is simply brilliant.
The baião tune “Coco” sets the pace after a lovely piano intro from Douglass with a beautiful rhythm highlighting Valentino’s flute as it dances with the trombone. This is a pattern that repeats successfully throughout the album. Valentino and Manson also solo. Andrea is featured on “Seize the Day” with a fine piano solo. There is a tender homage to the late and much loved musician and WMNF DJ Ray Villadonga titled “Samba for Rayzilla.” It is the perfect tribute, Valentino and Manson dancing again. Valentino and Douglass solo. Rivera’s guitar and Douglass create a magical bed for Andrea’s vocals on “Summer Rain.” Rivera takes a wonderful turn here.
Vickery enters with soprano saxophone to dance with Manson’s trombone, and he solos on “Ondulantes,” also a baião rhythm. Rivera stands out again, and Feinman has a brief powerful feature. Rivera and Douglass again support Andrea on “Floating.” Properly, “Soaring” follows, another Valentino/Manson duet on a tune which is as evocative as was Vince Guaraldi’s “Skating.” Valentino and Rivera each shine. Andrea again stars on “All I Wanted,” highlighted by piano and trombone. “What We Give” begins as a slow ballad before it accelerates as Vickery on tenor sax and Manson team up, with solos from Vickery and Douglass. The last of the Valentino/Manson dances is part of “This Time.”
Douglass switches to electric piano for “Follow Your Heart” in support of Andrea’s vocals; he and Manson solo here. “Right Now” is another chance for tenor sax and trombone to make beautiful music, with solos from both. Then soprano sax and trombone dance on “Moqueca,” again both soloing. Finally, we get to “Goal,” a soccer song and the only song Andrea sings in Portuguese. It is very uptempo, introduces by big drums from Feinman.
Let yourself drift to Brazil with O Som Do Jazz. Their album Go! is on most music platforms, and you can hear them in concert Wednesday, February 26, at 7:30 at The Palladium Side Door as part of the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival. They will also perform at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin April 4. And check out our Spotify playlist below!