Thursday, August 13, 2015

Flora Purim and Airto Moreira — The Magicians


   In the years of fusion and jazz rock explosion some new trends and styles were seen as next stage of modern jazz with new melodic and rhythmic idioms, new sound and different formal solutions. Those were the times when popularity was not in contradiction with ambitions and number of copies sold was not the measure of quality. Those years names of Flora Purim and Airto Moreira were definitely at the top of jazz celebrities’. They were playing and singing with many greatest artists. Later this popularity helped them to achieve good position in jazz and to continue their careers with smooth jazz. In their discography many records are made with greatest artists of last half of the century, but best known part of their catalogue are mutual recordings signed by both or by one of them.
   Observing habits and social values in artistic circles one can find interesting feature connecting jazz rather with classical music than with rock or more popular genres. Jazz musicians often play with members of their families while rock musicians in most cases were separated musical career and their families, sometimes even hiding family life out of fans sight. No such politics in jazz. Flora Purim and Airto Moreira, the two Brasilian jazz musicians are probably most famous marriage in the history of jazz, although marriages of jazz artists were quite common since early jazz and through all later decades. They were active long before their US debut, but their international fame begins with groundbreaking recordings with revolutionary electric Miles Davis band (Moreira) and with Chick Corea’s Return to Forever (Moreira and Purim). Contribution to artistic qualities of these bands and to whole fusion style was proportional to their fame.

Flora Purim and Airto Moreira — The Magicians (1986)

   Most albums Flora Purim and Airto Moreira (or just Airto) have ever recorded, they were doing together. Many issues were signed mutually by both or they were taking part in each other’s projects. Optimistic, light mood was a kind of original temper in their early works in eighties became main movement in smooth jazz. One of their popular releases of these years was The Magicians album. It was recorded in March and April 1986 at Les Gonk Studios in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara Studios in Santa Barbara and Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Flora Purim once again confirmed she was number one vocalist of fusion jazz era. Melodious phrase, deep and subtle voice, wide spectrum of expression means with some fusion electronic modifications, everything natural and tasty. In the title song main vocal was recorded by Airto Moreira, who once again occurred to be quite competent singer. This song opening the second side of the album is new version of classic Airto’s song written by Egberto Gismondi and Airto Moreira and published on 1975 album Identity.
   In 1986 everything was softer and easier. It is striking even if quite understandable – times have changed and music has to fit. Nine relaxing songs covering span between Latin jazz and funky, mainly in samba and bossa rhythms, with perfect solos of keyboardists George Duke, Marcos Silva and Kei Akagi, guitarists Ricardo Peixoto, Larry Ness, David Zeiher, Jeff Elliott on trumpet. Whole list of performers was much longer including drummers supporting Moreira, Celso Alberti and Tony Moreno, four bass players Gary Brown, Bob Harrison, Keith Jones and Randy Tico, vocalist Kenny Loggins, trombonists Daniel Reagan and Rolando Gingras. Featured position had saxophonist Mary Fettig. She played some great solos on tenor, alto and soprano saxes. The sound of this San Francisco born saxophonist, perfection of phrase and construction of solos made Mary Fettig third hero of this album. Four stars to avoid frustration of underestimating good crossover between smooth jazz and popular music.

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