Trio Mocoto -- Fritz Escovao, Joao Parahyba and Nereu Gargalo -- became famous for backing samba-funk god Jorge Ben in the late 1960s and early '70s, helping shape the "samba rock" groove that made Jorge Ben the coolest of the cool. They also recorded a few albums on their own, back in the day as well as when they reunited decades later; in 2003 the musician known as Skowa joined the band, replacing Fritz as a permanent member. Here's a quick look at their work...
Trio Mocoto "Muita Zorra" (Philips, 1971)
Jorge Ben & Trio Mocoto "Live In Japan" (Philips, 1971)
Trio Mocoto "Trio Mocoto" (RGE, 1972)
These recordings were made after their work backing Jorge Ben on the Forca Bruta album; they're simultaneously soulful and slightly goofy, with an easygoing mix of groove and easy listening -- jazzy guitars, samba percussion and a light string section, very typical of late '60s/early '70s Brazilian pop... This doesn't have the same grit and drive as their work with Ben, but it stops well short of being outright Muzak, and has a fair share of sly, soulful moments. It's not earthshaking , but definitely worth checking out.
Dizzy Gillespie "En Brasil Con Trio Mocoto" (Biscoito Fino/Random Records, 2011)
These 1974 sessions, recorded in Sao Paulo with Gillespie and three of his '70s stalwarts -- drummer Mickey Roker, bassist Earl May and guitarist Al Gafa --- were a dry run for Gillespie's album, 1976 Bahiana, which wound up being recorded in LA with Paulinho da Costa pitching in on percussion, but not the Trio Mocoto dudes. Just as well: they don't quite mesh with Gillespie and his crew, who were in a kind of a blues jam-meets-cool jazz mode, but also eager to absorb some local-flavor Brazilian-ocity... The Mocoto band provides fairly demure percussive backing, but the never really cut loose or hit a real groove with the jazz cats; it's all very polite and Latin-jazzy, but I guess Dizzy just wasn't quite able to wrap himself around the samba rhythm. Even on a track like "Rocking With Mocoto," where the Trio burst into a sizzling, fast-paced batucada arrangement, Gillespie and Gafa quickly fall back into Afro-Cuban mode, and Dizzy decides to cut loose with some old-fashioned bebop solos... It's not that anyone is playing anything "wrong," it's just that the super-groovy '70s Brazilian vibe seems to elude them, sort of like knowing how to speak Spanish and being flummoxed by Portuguese, I guess. Anyway, this is historically interesting, but it didn't totally wow me. Too much jazz, and not enough Brazil.
Trio Mocoto "Trio Mocoto" (Brasis/Movieplay, 1975)
(Produced by Waldemar Marchetti; Arrangements by Daniele Patucci)
Another self-titled set, but a much different album. These later recordings are simultaneously soulful and slightly goofy, with an easygoing mix of groove and easy listening -- jazzy guitars, samba percussion and a light string section, very typical of late '60s/early '70s Brazilian pop... Seems like it's a late-edition album, partly recorded in Italy, partly in Brazil, with additional string arrangements recorded in England and added later. Although they eventually do get a little funky and samba-ly, for the most part this disc is pretty darn cheesy... It certainly doesn't have the same grit and drive as their work with Ben, although it stops well short of being outright Muzak. I guess it's worth checking out... But, geez... what happened?
Trio Mocoto "Samba Rock" (Six Degrees, 2002)
These old guys have still got it... in fact, I'd even say this disc is stronger overall than their "classic" early work, reviewed above. Nice, chopsy funk and soul, with predictable, but delicious dips into rap and electronica. What's great about this album is the old-timer confidence that these guys exude throughout. Definitely worth checking out.
Trio Mocoto "Beleza! Beleza! Beleza!" (Crammed Disc, 2004)
Trio Mocoto "Que Nega E Essa? (E Outros Sucessos)" (Globo, 2003/Atracao, 2010)
As far as I can tell, this is a straight reissue of the 1975 Trio Mocoto album...
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