Felipe Salles – Quotes & Reviews

“Felipe Salles has truly taken a step into the future with this CD. Possessing a gift for orchestration and arranging, Felipe’s music is definitely pointing to the future.” ~ Dave Liebman

Felipe Salles – Departure

Always loved it, always will: hard bop, small group style. Best with the combo of piano, bass, drums and a front line of tenor and trumpet, but I can slum it and have variations and even an extra instrument. The mix of bop, soul, gospel with catchy melodies with solos that go just long enough without jumping off a cliff make this my go-to music whenever I’m not sure what to play. Here are two recent releases by modern gents who got my attention.

Pianist Joe Gilman leads a snappy little team of Nick Frenay/tp, Chad Lefkowitz/ts-bc, Zach Brown/b and Corey Fonville/dr through a collection of originals that keep the bop flame burning but add extra textures and rabbit trails. Classic toe tappers like “Three Spheres” feature the warm brass provided by Frenay as well as the groove-oriented rhythm section. Gilman displays his lyricism on a couple of solo pieces like “Dewdrop,” while other tunes such as “Sky and Water” and “Three Worlds” have some intriguing harmonies, accents and sidebars that keep you paying attention. Lefkowitz’s tenor is firm and muscular, with the veins popping on “Ascending and Descending.” Put this one right alongside your Jazz Messengers catalogue!

Felipe Salles leads a rollicking team as well. He himself solos on tenor and soprano sax, as well as flutes and bass clarinets, while the rest of the team of Nando Michelin/p, Keala Kaumeheiwa/b, Bertram Lehmann/dr and Laura Arpianen/v is supplemented by the exciting trumpet of guest Randy Brecker. The band gets down and funky on material like “Seagull’s Island” and the darker “B’s Blues,” both which highlight the leader’s red clay sound on tenor. The band is air tight on “Departure” which is kicked up a couple notches by some roller coaster accents just when you least suspect it. On the mellower side, Salles’ soprano caresses “Awaiting” while Michelin’s piano gently coaxes the ivories. A gorgeous “Adagio Trieste” has an almost chamber-like feel to it, with Salles’ flute providing soft winds. Excellent outing. Reviewed by, George W. Harris, jazzweekly.com. (January 24, 2013)
São Paulo native Felipe Salles blends the visceral and the cerebral on his fascinating fifth album, infusing classical modernist strains with the buoyant rhythms of his Brazilian homeland. And that’s by no means all, Departure spans a hard, shape-shifting blues “B’s Blues,” Bartók-ian snake-charmer sounds “Bela’s Reflection,” dappled pastorale “Adagio Triste,” featuring Salles’ floating flute over strings and invigorating postbox in “Natural Selection,” the last track. Backed by a band as wordly as he is, Salles also showcases new ally Randy Brecker, a veteran trumpeter whose biting tone and restless lyricism spark the title track and “Natural selection.” Brecker’s tartness and Salles’ rounder, warmer tone on tenor sax make for an unusual and engaging sonic dynamic. There’s a cinematic quality to the sultry, metrically stimulating “Seagull’s Island” and the blend of Brazilian and New Orleanian rhythmic approaches on “Maracatu D’Orleans.” There’s Salles’ schooling, obvious in song titles like “Bela’s Reflection” and “Schoenberg’s Error.” But there’s little academic about Departure. This supple, subtle album is the work of a fine player and gifted composer conversant in whatever musical form he attempts. Even the ballads – “Adagio Triste” and the full-bodied “Awaiting,” highlighting Salles’ tenor and Nando Michelin’s lovely piano – bring something new to the form. Reviewed by, Carlo Wolff, Reviews Undertones, JazzTimes.com. (February, 2013)
On his fifth leader outing, saxophonist Felipe Salles combines the influences of his native Brazil with compositional techniques gleaned from 20-century classical composers such as Béla Bartók and Arnold Schoenberg. It’s a combination that sounds like it absolutely shouldn’t work, but Salles manages to navigate those treacherous shoals, crafting pieces that juggle intriguing complexity with buoyant rhythms and lush colors. The disc begins with the title tune, where the composer weaves a tense minor-key tapestry from the combination of his own multi-tracked voice with those of his bandmates. His flute see-saws the opening melody with Keala Kaumeheiwa’s bass and Laura Arpiainen’s violin; his tenor soars in tandem with Randy Brecker’s trumpet; his bass clarinet swerves alongside Kaumeheiwa through sudden turns of phrase during Brecker’s solo. Both of these modernist mentors are paid explicit homage: Bartók on the mesmerizing “Béla’s Reflection,” which showcases Salles’ serpentine soprano in a reedy Middle Eastern dance with Nando Michelin’s piano; and “Schoenberg’s Error” takes the legendarily austere composer’s concepts for a muscular spin full of jittery percussion from Bertram Lehmann and some fierce blowing by the leader. In the past, Salles has explored this conjunction of styles with a larger ensemble, which has granted him the breadth of sound and color necessary to embody his jazz. Brazilian and classical inspiration. What’s most fascinating about Departure is his success in translating that approach to a more nimble small band without losing any of the richness or diversity. Reviewed by, Shaun Brady, Downbeat.com. 4 Stars. (January, 2013)
Felipe Salles, who moved to the United States from Brazil in 1995, received a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston and a doctorate from the Manhattan School in New York. After graduation, Salles stayed in New York until joining the faculty at UMass in 2010. His arrangements and compositions have been performed by The Metropole Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Viola Ensemble, Westchester Jazz Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra, New England Conservatory Jazz Band, Five Towns College Jazz Orchestra and Five Towns College Concert Band. In October, Salles released his fifth CD, “Departure.” All of the tracks, which blend elements of Brazilian music, jazz and pop, are composed by Salles. “I’ve been working a lot over the years to try to incorporate a lot of Brazilian tradition, which comes across in the rhythms, and then harmonically and melodically speaking, more of a 20th-century classical influence,” Salles said. Reviewed by Lauren Robinson Jones, Gazette.com. (December 19, 2012)
Brazilian saxophonist Felipe Salles serves up Departure, his fifth CD as a leader. Surrounding himself with the international flavor of: pianist Nando Michelin (Uruguay), a bit of local flavor with Boston resident bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa (NY born), drummer Bertram Lehmann (Germany) and jazz trumpeter extraordinaire, Randy Brecker. Salles blends his musical heritage of Brazil into all that he creates. Get ready to enjoy the lengthy journey of Departure, then breathe in the sea air from “Seagull’s Island”, luxuriate in the mirrored beauty of “Bela’s Reflection”, experience the lush, flowery sound of “Meracatu D’Orleans”, and it all come together nicely on he gentle sound of “Awaiting”. Salles’ saxophone notes move to the forefront on B’s Blues, and there’s no mistaking “Schoenberg’s Error”, moving on to the hauntingly beautiful “Adagio Triste”, and it all becomes history following “Natural Selection”. The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Faculty Research Grant and Healey Endowment Grant made this record possible. Nice to know that our area played a part in the creation of this fine album. Reviewed by, bob morello, Facts on wax, Boston Post-Gazette, (November 23, 2012)
At a glance, our passion for music is driven by individual taste, knowledge, maturity and genre as we wind through this life altering process to satisfy our ongoing hunger for the music we love. With this release, I’m elated to meet for the first time multifaceted woodwind artist Felipe Salles from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He emerges with a fresh palette of jazz from an international perspective that’s relevant, creative and artistically fruitful yet innovative sound which deepens his imprint on his current offering on Tapestry Records appropriately titled Departure his fifth recording as a leader. The versatile Salles defines his chivalrous voice by ingeniously incorporating his unwavering spirit within the context of these nine mesmerizing selections beginning with the harmonic signatures woven into the rousing opener aptly title “Departure” as the springboard to this thought-provoking and stimulating journey. As composer, arranger and producer Dr. Felipe Salles underscores this relishing tapestry of sounds embodied on “Seagull’s Island.” In fact, advance techniques are employed to exhibit seamless textures, shades and colors graciously allows room for his extraordinary collaborators to explore these unmistakable melodies and rhythmic progressions flawlessly. The lyrical “Bela’s Reflection” proves why Salles is truly a master composer, he brilliantly interlaces the timeless elements of Brazilian, jazz, classical and pop music to create an eclectic body of what could be easily painted and framed as world-class fusion on this brilliant canvas. Although he currently lives in New York, Salles also resides as a member of the New World Jazz Composers Octet. On Departure Felipe audaciously knits the fabric of his explorations in music through each song which naturally inhabits the influences of his heritage to perfection with the odd-metered patterns entrenched on “Maractu D’ Orleans” anchored to the melodic nuances outlined on the multi layered “Awaiting.” As a result the melodies are complex, palpable and extremely attractive. The vibrant symmetry enmeshed in the post-bop influenced “B’ Blues” is definitely what’s up at the sixth spot expands this rich collection of music. Felipe’s style is appealing, infectious and soulful yet his riveting tonality is exactly what my heart and soul moans for musically. At this stage, Felipe confidently switches his instrument, tone and flavor with classical ambiance of “Adagio Triste.” With the appearance of this gem he channels his energy by playing the flute. Unexpectedly Departure gives me more than enough reasons to search extensively for Felipe Salles previous and future recordings! No question, I’m amazed and fascinated not only by his cohesive playing but his compositional prowess, tenor and arrangements are simply timeless assets to pursue. Reviewed by, Rob Young, theurbanflux.com. (November 17, 2012)
Nando Michelin: piano
Keala Kaumeheiwa: bass
Bertram Lehmann: drums and percussion
Laura Arpiainen: violin
Randy Brecker: trumpet
Felipe Salles: tenor and soprano Saxes, flutes, and bass clarinet
TAPESTRY/Departure: The list of progressive and left leaning jazzbos this cat has blown his sax with is endless. Here we find him merging downtown with Brazil with the angular kind of stuff Alfred Lion recorded but felt unsure about releasing in real time. A smoking, sure footed date with one foot in the future and one foot in the past, Salles, leading a crack and stellar crew, makes first class sitting down jazz for those Sunday evenings when you’d rather set the DVR for animation domination and groove with something only slightly mellow to put your head in the right place. Tasty stuff that isn’t chill but was made for chilling. Well done. Reviewed by, Chris Spector, MidwestRecord.com. (October 27, 2012)
Having just dropped Departure on the Tapestry label, Felipe Salles’ fifth recording as a leader has found a most unique approach to the musical heritage of his native Brazil while at the same time infusing the advanced harmonies of 20th century contemporary classical music. Departure has Salles reunited with Uruguayan pianist Nando Michelin, Boston resident Keala Kaumeheiwa and German Bertram Lehman and joining them we find jazz trumpet extraordinaire, Randy Brecker. According to Brecker, Salles is the real deal. Thanks to Salles and his Brazilian background combined with his overall knowledge of music, jazz and the long lost art of bebop it is rather easy to spot Salles as a studied composer. Fresh compositions cutting new ground, haunting and cutting a wide musical path through a variety of genres has Salles has seemingly taken a musical road less traveled with tunes that range in influence from Bartok to the blues and from Hermeto to straight ahead jazz always bearing down on what is becoming known as the Salles style and groove. One key to the success is Salles is keeping the same level of complexity his music is known for but making it work with less players. This less is more zen like approach to his music keeps an organic if not accessibly eclectic feel to his music which otherwise may have actually outgrown itself.

Departure opens this most adventurous release with a minor key and shifting meter creating a subtle dynamic tension broken by the distinctive sound of trumpet player Randy Brecker with the eclectic sound of the Salles on bass clarinet multi-tracked just below the surface of Salles on tenor. “Seagull Island” continues an articulated pop of vitality all with a dialed down Brazilian vibe and yet another virtuoso solo performance turned in by Salles. Nando Michelin on piano along with bassist Kaumeheiwa and the nuances of drummer Lehmann fill out the sound of a rhythm section that can hold their own with any band on any stage. Salles is oddly reminiscent of the early sound of a Kenny Garrett and the lyrical sense of purpose on this tune is unmatched by some of what Salles;s contemporaries are attempting to pull off today. “B’s Blues” is another tune in a minor key and while the meter shifts so does the melodic line and lyrical intensity. The syncopated pop is finally dialed down a notch as a beautiful ballad begins to take shape showcasing the versatility and expansive nature of a truly natural talent. Brecker is right, Salles is a studied composer but unlike so many there is a natural ease and flow to his music despite the innate complexity of his work. The most amazing aspect of the talent of Felipe Salles is the constant groove, ease of connectivity and the avoidance of the natural self-indulgent pitfalls that are a-typical of such a prolific talent. The hybridization of jazz over the last two years seems to have grown at a steady and in some cases alarming rate, it is the next big thing. Some artists take the more self indulgent road in an effort to say, “look at me!’ Salles takes the hybridization of his music seriously by instead saying, ” check out what WE just did.” Jazz has the unique ability to make most people tighten up in the same fashion as they do when they hear the words “tax-time” but Salles is a musical chameleon as he keeps it loose, understands when and where to change colors and most of all he keeps it swinging! Reviewed by, Brent Black, CriticalJazz.com. (October 24, 2012)


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