Brazil is better. In jazz, classical, psychedelic, and folk traditions, Brazil just wins, appearing to be both closer to the aboriginal impulses of music than everywhere else and further along in its evolution. It's like the state of Indiana and the jump shot: Music belongs to Brazil. Tough noogies. Pat Metheny turned an obsession with Jobim into a major, midcareer direction shift. Paul Simon reset his songwriting in the Brazilian milieu on Rhythm of the Saints, borrowing Milton Nascimento and a Brazilian supergroup to make it work. David Byrne kicked off his post-Talking Heads age of imperialism by incorporating Tropicalia and championing the work of Caetano Veloso. Now Rhinebeck violin whiz Brian Silber offers up Brazilliant, a sparkling collection of contemporary, acoustic, and unrelentingly virtuosic Brazillian music.
The catch is this: Violin is not an instrument often heard in traditional Brazillian music, until now. The light incongruity of that voice over those rhythms gives this session much of its novelty and charm. On tracks like "Freviricando," Silber's burning chops and bouncy touch come off like an alternative-history Stephane Grapelli. Silber assembled an elite cast of contemporary Brazillian musicians to both compose and perform this material. Breakneck execution is the norm, but many of the albums finest moments are lyrical and moody, such as Renato Anesi’s “Sohno de Gabriel” and “Pernambucano,” and the tender “Meia Noite,” on which Silber’s daughter Kayla takes an impressive turn as vocalist. BrianSilberMusic.com.