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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

CD Review: Flavio Lira - Coffee Gold Sugar Cane

(Review by Max G)

Hailing from Brazil, Flavio Lira is based in New York City, active in a wide variety of genres and musical forms. This policy is present throughout the album which Lira refers to as ‘a rhythmic fusion of samba, baiao, regional folklore, tumbao, clave, Partido Alto, jazz influence from the north, classical fugue, and more.’

This sounds like an ambitious mix, and perhaps an album which brings together 38 different musicians from 15 different countries might struggle to maintain a clear identity if each of their musical personalities is simultaneously foregrounded. However, the album’s identity retains a central core of, in the broadest terms, Latin influence.


The album is also defined by Lira’s dense arrangements, featuring a mass of different instruments and timbres. For example, on the album’s second track, his highly original and complex arrangement of All the Things You Are. However, in this track, the constant chopping and changing of sounds, feels, and his intense melodic interplay and elaborations at times become overwhelming. The same could also be said of Sol no Frio

Whilst Lira’s ambition, which leads him to attempt the broad synthesis of styles and musical backgrounds he describes, should undoubtedly be applauded, perhaps that ambition should be reined in slightly.

Despite these criticisms, the album does definitely have some nice moments. 5 to 9 grooves really naturally, with a great vibes solo from Ryan Fedak. I personally am often suspicious of attempts to cross the classical-jazz divide. However, the album’s concluding Bass Fugue is executed with originality and showcases Lira’s excellent bass playing – something which perhaps could be more prominent through the album as a whole.

Overall, this is a fun, thoroughly enjoyable album. But just perhaps not quite a classic.
Max G.

Coffee Gold Sugar Cane is available on Interrobang Records.

Flavio Lira (bass); Ryan Fedak (vibraphone); Anibal Cruz (piano); Takafumi Nikaido (congas, cajon); Graciliano Zambonin (drums); Kan Yanabe (pandiero, tamborim, clave); Edmar Colon (alto sax, bari sax); Gaciliano Zambonin (drums);  Nella Rojas (vocals); Yoshie Nakayama (trombone); Jon Weidley (trumpet); Juan Ruiz (alto sax); Anggie Obin (flute); Nacho Gonzaled (guitar); Julio Santos (pandeiro); Martin Musaubach (Rhodes, organ); Yaure Muniz (trumpet); Xito Lovell (trombone); Howard Levy (harmonica); Kevin Scollins (guitar); Eduardo Mercuri (guitar); Naty Hernandez (vocals); Valentine Komissarouk (vocals); Vitor Goncalvez (e-piano); Livio Almeida (soprano sax); Laura Crespo (bongo, guiro); Thiago Vitori (synths, pads); Clay Steininger (guitar); Alexi Tsiganov (piano); Raphael Lehnen (bombo leguero); Catherine Bent (cello); Leandro Pellengrino (guitar); Fernando Brandao (flute); Keisel Jiminez (tishbales, congas, vocals); Ronaldo Andrade (surdo, cavaco, banjo, vocals); Bruno Brandalise (trombone).

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