João Donato - One of a Kind
My Thoughts Regarding His "Amazonas" CD":

I just received this ["Amazonas"] CD in the mail and please pardon my overt enthusiasm for it, but this is simply one of the nicest, most interesting (and at the same time, "easy-on-the-ears") piano trio CDs I've heard in a very long time. It's been quite a while since I heard something brand new that I felt sure was going to become an "instant" classic; but if any recent recording deserves that status, this is sure to be it.

Donato is masterful on the piano, playing with a light touch and creating just enough improvisation to keep things interesting. I was very familiar with his compositions played by others, but this is the first time I'm hearing him play this many of his own selections. Claudio Slon, (along with being the Trio's drummer) is featured in a few 'nice and not-overdone' drum solos, and Jorge Helder is excellent on the bass.

The CD features all but two compositions written by Donato himself (the other two are written by Donato and J. Gilberto). The tight sound of the Trio gives one the impression that these musicians have been playing together forever (which they haven't)! I won't spoil the history or the interesting story of how the members of this trio and its producer (Vartan Tonoian) all got together to make this CD (it's all recounted in the booklet that comes with the disc), but it is clear that it was a very enjoyable collaboration for all parties involved. And there is also the suggestion that there is going to be more to come in the future from this new trio of musicians.

Even though this is an album made by three Brazilian musicians, I actually think that an audience who is used to listening to jazz piano trios originating from the U.S. will enjoy it more. I'm not sure why I say that; it's just a strong feeling I have when listening to the tracks. Maybe the reason is that it may not be "Brazilian enough" for much of Brazil (i.e., because the album lacks the playing of Brazilian percussion instruments). But I love the album just the way it is, and I'm also a big fan of Brazilian percussion!

The CD, which is contained within a digipak instead of a jewel case, also comes with a booklet loaded with photos and liner notes; one page of the notes is written by Vartan and the other page written by drummer Claudio Slon.

A thoroughly enjoyable CD--highly recommended!

May 2000


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