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Nana Vasconcelos portrait Hailing from the coastal city of Recife, percussionist Nana Vasconcelos (1944-2016) was one of the key figures in Brazil's fusion and avant-jazz movements, as well as a pioneering figure in the global "world music" movement. His work may be a little too "out there" for many listeners, but for his loyal fans there's really no other musician like him... Here's a quick look at his work...


Nana Vasconcelos/Nelson Angelo/Novelli "Africadeus" (Saravah, 1972)

Nana Vasconcelos "Amazonas" (Philips/Phonogram, 1973)
(Produced by Raimundo Fagner & Nana Vasconcelos)

Deep, but insufferable. This artsy album by percussionist Nana Vasconcelos delves deep into Amazonian music, both real and imagined, mixing the psychedelic tropicalia ethos with the sounds of the deep jungle. It's an admirable and sincere effort and has some powerful performances, but it's also kind of silly and unless you're really out to prove a point, maybe not a record you'd want to listen to recreationally. But again, maybe this is one of those records where not doing drugs puts me at a disadvantage -- it's possible this record is "a real trip" if you're completely zonked out and stoned on whatever.

Nana Vasconcelos, Nelson Angelo & Novelli "Nana Vasconcelos, Nelson Angelo & Novelli" (Saravah, 1974)

Nana Vasconcelos/Joyce/Mauricio Maestro "Visions Of Dawn" (Far Out, 1976/2009)
A "lost album" of spacy jazz-folk recorded by three members of the Sagrada Familia collective...

Nana Vasconcelos & Egberto Gismonti "Danca Das Cabecas" (ECM, 1977)
The very definition of noodly, this disc is sort of a softer, quieter extension of the free jazz of the 1960s -- flashy in parts but not terribly cohesive. Initially it focuses on Gismonti's acoustic guitar, then shifts into endless improvisational piano riffs. The playing is in essence solo work, with very sparse and minimal accompaniment by a small ensemble. Not really my cup of tea, although this is one of Gismontis best distributed and most well-known albums in the United States.

Nana Vasconcelos "Saudades" (ECM, 1979)

Collin Walcott, Don Cherry & Nana Vasconcelos "Condona" (ECM, 1979)
The band's name is a mash-up of the first letters in each man's name: CO-DO-NA...

Collin Walcott, Don Cherry & Nana Vasconcelos "Condona 2" (ECM, 1982)

Nana Vasconcelos "Zumbi" (Europa, 1983)

Collin Walcott, Don Cherry & Nana Vasconcelos "Condona 3" (ECM, 1983)

Nana Vasconcelos & Egberto Gismonti "Duas Voces" (ECM, 1984)

Nana Vasconcelos "Nantronics" (Europa, 1985)

Nana Vasconcelos "Bush Dance" (Island, 1986)

Nana Vasconcelos And The Bushdancers "Rain Dance" (Island, 1989)

Nana Vasconcelos & Antonello Salis "Lester" (Brass Star, 1990)

Nana Vasconcelos "Contando Estorias" (Velas, 1994)

Nana Vasconcelos "Fragments - Modern Tradition" (Tzadik, 1997)

Nana Vasconcelos "Contaminacao" (M. Officer, 1999)

Nana Vasconcelos "Fragmentos" (Nucleo Contemporaneo, 1990)

Nana Vasconcelos "Minha Loa" (Tratore, 2002)

Nana Vasconcelos & Itamar Assumpcao "Isso Vai Dar Repercussao" (Tratore, 2005)
A live recording from 2001, with Sao Paulo's < href = "assumpcao_itamar_01.html">Itamar Assumpcao

Nana Vasconcelos "Chegada" (Azul, 2005)

Nana Vasconcelos "Trilhas" (Azul, 2006)

Nana Vasconcelos/Mauricio Maestro "Upside Down" (Far Out, 2011)
A new collaboration -- recorded in 2010 -- from two Brazilian experimental musicians whose partnership spans back to the early 1970s. Guitarist Mauricio Maestro and percussionist Nana Vasconcelos rekindle their creativity with this mellow, melodic set which is primarily instrumental music, punctuated by nonsensical vocalizations, simple chanted refrains, and on a few tunes, full lyrics. It's similar in style to the amorphous folk-jazz-MPB of Vasconcelos or Milton Nascimento, but Maestro -- who co-founded the 1980s pop group Boca Livre -- has a more pointedly "pop" approach, with light, lilting melodies and a joyful vibe filing the sound. It's a little Sufjan Stephens-y, and easy on the ears... Singer Kay Lyra sings on several tracks, reprising the role that Joyce played on the Maestro/Vasconcelos session, Visions Of Dawn in 1976. A little gooey, but pretty listenable overall... Definitely worth a whirl.


Nana Vasconcelos "Storytelling" (EMI-Hemisphere, 1995)


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