Considerando

What started as Ryan Keberle’s torrid love affair with Brazilian music has blossomed into something far deeper and more enduring. Considerando, the trombonist’s second album with the São Paulo-based Collectiv do Brasil, confirms that this is a singular relationship built to last. Slated for release on July 14, 2023, it’s a deep dive into the songbook of Edu Lobo, the beloved and pervasively influential composer, guitarist and vocalist, still going strong at 79, who bridges the bossa nova-era with the 1970s flowering of MPB (música popular brasileira).

“I love that early and mid-70s period when there was this explosion of the most creative songwriting. So many of the Brazilian songwriters were able to do their thing, and Edu was at the center of it,” says the New York-based Keberle. “Edu was there in the beginning in the ’60s with the Quarteto Novo, the first time artists combined, jazz, Brazilian folk and pop, and just blew open the world for Brazilian composers.”

Considerando follows in the footsteps of Collectiv do Brasil’s acclaimed 2022 debut release Sonhos da Esquina, a ravishing celebration of Milton Nascimento, Toninho Horta and the landmark Minas Gerais-centered Clube da Esquina collective. The project features the original members, drummer Paulinho Vicente and pianist Felipe Silveira (who also contributes three arrangements), with Felipe Brisola taking over the bass chair from Thiago Alves, who had enrolled in a prestigious Swiss jazz program.

“This trio had been performing together their entire adult lives, playing three or four nights a week for more than a decade creating this shared language that we just don’t the opportunity to do here,” Keberle says. “Thiago was in Europe when we toured and recorded this new material and they’d replaced with him with Felipe. Of course, I trust them completely.”

The trust and commitment to creating an improvisation-laced musical world around Lobo’s ingenious compositions is evident throughout the album’s 10 tracks, which include original arrangements of seven Lobo songs. Drawing heavily from his classic 1971 album Sergio Mendes Presents Lobo, the album opens with the crackling “Zanzibar,” an arrangement that exemplifies the Brazilian jazz/jazz Brazilian conversation at the heart of the Collectiv collaboration.

Sonhos da Esquina

Ryan Keberle’s Collectiv do Brasil – Sonhos da Esquina

While in São Paulo in 2017, Ryan met three leading – and rather busy – paulista musicians: pianist Felipe Silveira, bassist Tiago Alves and drummer and percussion colourist Paulinho Vicente. The trio and Keberle became instant soulmates, sharing a deep love for Brasil’s sophisticated music tradition, represented by Ivan Lins, Edu Lobo, Toninho Horta and Milton Nascimento, and also a love for American jazz.

It wasn’t long before Keberle and the Brasilian trio became firmly entrenched as the quartet that was to become Collectiv do Brasil.

The story of Collectiv do Brasil and Sonhos da Esquina.

Of all the horns in a modern ensemble, the trombone might easily replace the vocalist. This probably has to do with the unique instrument’s tone, colour, range, and pitch which enables a trombonist to evoke the human voice, moaning and crying like the very best blues singers. The trombone in Brasilian music is able to do something altogether different. It evokes that ephemeral Brasilian emotion called “saudades”. When Ryan Keberle plays the trombone with his Brasilian colleagues in Collectiv do Brasil, he gives that emotion wings.

“That’s how I fell in love with Brasilian music… when I first heard Elis Regina’s music decades ago.” 
– Ryan Keberle

In 2017 Keberle took time off from his duties directing the music program at Hunter College to travel to Brasil. While in São Paulo he met three leading – and rather busy – paulista musicians: pianist Felipe Silveira, bassist Tiago Alves and drummer and percussion colourist Paulinho Vicente. The trio and Keberle became instant soulmates, sharing a deep love for Brasil’s sophisticated music tradition, represented by Ivan Lins, Edu Lobo, Toninho Horta and Milton Nascimento, and also a love for American jazz. It wasn’t long before Keberle and the Brasilian trio became firmly entrenched as the quartet that was to become Collectiv do Brasil.

“Toninho, Paulinho and I have been playing together for 17 years… with Ryan we’re like four brothers”
– Felipe Silveira

Soon new music by Keberle came into existence and was added to the repertoire that the quartet began to fine-tune and perfect at regular gigs around in and around São Paulo. The extraordinary chemistry between the musicians was electrifying, transcending cultural topography, immersed; in the universal beauty of the afro-centric roots of Jazz and Brasilian music. It came as no surprise to anyone, then that plans were drawn up for Keberle to return to Brasil; something he did a year later, to pay homage to the music they loved – specifically to some of its legendary creators Toninho Horta and Milton Nascimento. Thus the album Sonhos da Esquina was born.

“Caress the earth / Know the earth’s desires / the earth in heat, the ideal season / fertilize the ground…” – Milton Nascimento in “O Cio da Terra”

In paying homage to Milton Nascimento and the music he made during his legendary years at Clube da Esquina, this music has, almost de rigueur, a prescient and almost spiritual quality to it, much like Nascimento’s own music. But this quartet was also determined to honour another legendary songwriter, Toninho Horta together with three compositions by Keberle as well. This repertoire features Keberle’s beautifully crafted arrangements, each of beguiling variety and sensuousness in every lovingly-crafted phrase of Sonhos da Esquina.
The chosen material, in the exception of the originals, judiciously focuses on some gems by both Nascimento and Horta. Listening to the manner in which Keberle sculpts the sustained inventions of [Silveira’s arrangement] of “O Cio de Terra”, its clear there’s not a single semiquaver that hasn’t been fastidiously considered. On “Campinas” and “Carbon Neutral” Silveira’s piano sashays, while Keberle seductively bends the notes in bittersweet, moaning harmonic conceptions.

The apogee of the album is Nascimento’s iconic “Clube da Esquina 2” which is preceded by Keberle’s original, crafted introduction “Sonhos da Esquina”. Piano and bass herald the music before Keberle’s questing trombone lines take over, each elegant melodic variation is following the other quite inexorably and with languid ease. Horta’s “Aqui Oh!” is a swaggering chart burnished by the musicians’ swing accented by the drummer’s hissing cymbals. Nascimento’s “Tarde” and Horta’s “Francisca” are eloquently elegiac and aching yet spacious and mellifluous.
All of this sumptuous music has been brilliantly captured at Brasil’s legendary Gargolandia Recording Studio on an album to absolutely die for.

Photos by Pedro Nogueira