Joao Donato / Adrian Younge / Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Joao Donato 007

Jazz Is Dead

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31.80 LP

Regular black vinyl edition, full colour custom die-cut sleeve, sealed.

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Jazz Is Dead’s Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad collaborate with João Donato, legend of Brazilian Music
Where’s João Donato? It’s a frequently asked question, referring simultaneously to
the physical location and the musical moment he inhabits. A sampling of some of his
more descriptive song titles suggests Donato’s comfort with musical hybrids:
“Bluchanga,” “Sambolero,” and “Sambongo,” to name just a few. Lacking a formal
genre for his style of music, Donato’s is a distinct sound, immediately recognizable
from the first few bars of any of his compositions. He was funky back when “funk”
was a bad word (listen to either of his 1960s Brazilian LPs, Sambou, Sambou and
The New Sound if Brasil, for proof). His compositions are deceptively simple, while
his arrangements are harmonically complex, revealing their intricate details upon
repeat listening.
Today, Donato brings this flavor, now near synonymous with his name, to a new
album in the Jazz Is Dead series with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad:
Joāo Donato JID007. “Donato is one of the greatest Brazilian composers from that
golden era. His signature style, simple melodies combined with colorful chordal
progressions, establishes a new lane for Jazz Is Dead,” explains Younge. “Joao is
one of the most innovative Brazilian jazz composers of the last century. Creating with
and learning from this maestro was one of the greatest experiences of my career.”
On the first day of recording, João Donato was so flattered that to learn Younge and
Muhammad had crafted some tunes for him to grace that on the second day, the
maestro showed up to the studio with a composition in honor of his new musical
partners: “Adrian, Ali and Gregory.” Gregory (aka Greg Paul) delivers an effortlessly
buoyant rhythm to support Donato’s whimsical and wistful Fender Rhodes. Younge
and Muhammad added the flute melody after the sessions, a perfect tribute and
compliment to this master arranger, sweet and melancholic at the same time.
Building off a sinister interlocking drum and bass pattern, Donato, Younge,
Muhammad, Paul and vocalist Loren Oden, assemble a swaying and swirling tune
with a romantic mantra, “Nāo Negue Seu Coraçāo,” which translates to “Don’t Deny
Your Heart.” Aspirational saxophones dance among cascading monophonic synths, a
churning Hammond B3 and cutting fuzz guitar while Donato’s subtle and slinky
Fender Rhodes leads the way through the musical maelstrom. Delivered in
Portuguese, Loren Oden sings the song’s emotional energy into existence.
If Jon Lucien made a fusion album, it would have sounded something like “Forever
More.” Oden’s vocals capture the longing and romanticism of the title, while the
rhythm section harkens back to the last album Donato recorded in Los Angeles in
1970, a jazz fusion fore-runner full of pulsing polyrhythms and urgent melodies. “You
guys made me like L.A. again,” Donato told Younge and Mohammad towards the end
of his 2019 trip to record this album and perform at the Jazz Esta Morto series.
João Donato deserves a place among the legends of Brazilian music, alongside
Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto, Dorival Caymmi, Ary Barroso, and select few
others. Ironically, his constant experimentation with different genres – the very
essence of his greatness – make him a challenge to classify and perhaps held him
back from becoming the household name some of his peers became. Asked how he
would describe his own work, he says, “It’s my style of music, the way I think about
[music]. I don’t even think about it, it’s just the way I do things. I don’t know if it even
has a name.” Donato has finally received long overdue accolades for his
contributions to date. An archetypal “musician’s musician,” Donato’s stepped out of
the shadows more recently, recording at an unprecedented rate and collaborating
with a variety of musicians, from Brazil and beyond, old and young. Still going strong
at over eighty years old, the late praise and recognition is finally coming for the artist
who Claus Ogerman offered to arrange an album, who Antonio Carlos Jobim called a
genius, and who no other than João Gilberto claims invented the bossa nova beat.

Weight350 g


Joao Donato 007


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Release Date

June 11, 2021

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