Pianist Kerry Politzer releases her sixth jazz album, a modern tribute to the late Brazilian jazz guitarist/composer Durval Ferreira. She has assembled a fine cast of sidemen in this endeavor: John Nastos (Dianne Schuur, Esperanza Spalding) on saxophone, flute, and clarinet; noted pianist George Colligan, here on drums; Seattle bassist Tim Carey (Jovino Santos Neto); Ben Graves on acoustic and electric guitars; and Simon Lucas on Brazilian percussion. The album features eight arrangements of Ferreira’s compositions and three originals inspired by his bebop-meets-bossa style.
This year, Politzer received a Regional Arts and Culture Council grant from the City of Portland to explore Ferreira’s music. After transcribing 30 of his compositions from the bossa nova era, the pianist chose eight beloved melodies made famous by Sarah Vaughan, Sergio Mendes, Leny Andrade, and others. “Batida Diferente” is transformed into an uptempo 7/8 whirlwind, while a reharmonized “The Day It Rained” adds a lovely flute part as well as Politzer’s hushed vocals. “Chorinho No. 2,” a contrafact written to Ferreira’s original “Chorinho No. 1,” features Nastos’ tuneful clarinet playing. Politzer’s “O Gato” is a beboppy tour-de-force that references Ferreira’s nickname (he performed with the group Os Gatos and had piercing “cat eyes”). The album closes with one of Ferreira’s most popular Brazilian jazz compositions, “Estamos Aí.”
Politzer has been enamored of Brazilian music ever since studying with Luciana Souza at the New England Conservatory of Music in the mid-1990’s. The pianist went on to continue her rhythmic studies with New York percussionist Vanderlei Pereira. She currently heads Bossa PDX, a Portland-based band that pays tribute to the masters of the bossa nova era.