Amaro Freitas, “Sankofa”
By John Morrison · July 06, 2021 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

Sometimes visually represented as a heart, or a bird flying with its head facing backward (or taking an egg from its back), the Akan principle of Sankofa states that in order to move forward, we must look back to our ancestors and traditional practices to help guide the way. For Brazilian pianist Amaro Freitas, Sankofa not only provides the title for his latest release, it also acts as a guiding principle for his approach to the music.

Working in a trio with bassist Jean Elton and drummer/percussionist Hugo Medeiros, Freitas’ playing throughout Sankofa straddles the cultural and historical intersections of post-bop and samba batucada. The title track is a beautifully understated piece, in which Freitas’ rich chords and melody lines swing hazily against the rhythm section. On “Ayeye,” the trio dances over Medeiros’ funky midtempo groove, while “Cazumbá” combines imaginative playing with delightfully irregular rhythms. “Batucada” builds tension with a dramatic opening before giving way to a truly open-concept arrangement guided by Freitas’ Cecil Taylor-esque playing. The music here is consistently inventive, both rhythmically and melodically engaging, delivered by a trio more than capable of commanding a wide range of African diasporic musical traditions.

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