Sam Gendel and Fabiano do Nascimento – ‘The Room’ (2024)

Uncategorized January 16, 2024

Sam Gendel and Fabiano do Nascimento – ‘The Room’ (2024)

Saxophonist/producer Sam Gendel and nylon string guitarist Fabiano do Nascimento have each been making solo albums over recent years, for labels such as Nonesuch and Now-Again.

Between them, the Brazil native do Nascimento and American Gendel have worked with the likes of Ry Cooder, Madlib, and Vampire Weekend. While the two have been musical acquaintances and collaborators since 2011, this is the first album they’ve made as a duo.

Recorded over two days in a basement studio in Southern California, ‘The Room’ is comprised of 10 instrumental tracks featuring do Nascimento’s seven-string guitar and Grendel’s soprano saxophone, which sounds like a flute. The overall feel of the record is of classic Latin jazz, the most obvious reference point being the universally loved 1963 Getz/Gilberto album.

But the timeless-sounding record is not limited to that kind of atmosphere. ‘The Room’ brings to mind any number of jazz greats, Baden Powell and Joao Gilberto among them, but not limited to South American artists. Personally, I’m frequently reminded of Coltrane as I listen to Gendel’s sax. ‘Astral Flowers’ comes off like something you might hear in an old educational film airing on PBS TV in the 1970s. ‘Foi Boto’ could be a record spinning at a big-city coffee shop anywhere in the world, urbanites grooving to the meandering feels and moods as they sip espresso drinks. Each song has its own personality, yet there’s a unifying wholeness to the group of them. When it finishes playing, I long to listen to some of my favorite jazz albums, by the likes of Coltrane and Mingus, then spin TheRoom again. While it’s great to take in the duo’s intuitive interplay without the distraction of vocals, I can’t help but wonder what could be possible if someone like Bebel Gilberto or Nina Miranda sang over some of the tracks.

Gendel’s and do Nascimento’s works aren’t avant-garde to the point of being anything like free jazz, yet they’re experimentally reaching in a way that’s always interesting. The tracks are easily accessible without being overly light. The record sounds like it could have been made any time between the early ‘60s and the present, and it should be pleasing to discerning jazz heads.

Brian Greene

Sam Gendel and Fabiano do Nascimento – ‘The Room’ (Real World Records, 2024)

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