Saturday, 7 April 2018

João Donato "A Bad Donato"1970 Brazil Latin Funk,Jazz Funk


João Donato  "A Bad Donato"1970 Brazil Latin Funk,Jazz Funk
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Like many musicians of his stature, by 1970 João Donato had already left Brazil and was living in the US, where his music was much more respected. So much so that he was given a free hand by his US label, Blue Thumb Records, to record his most experimental album yet: A Bad Donato….~


What is A Bad Donato? I would say the devilish recipe would include a little salsa, velvet curtains, straw slippers, some coke, some uppers, White Russians and unlimited studio time. It is short and sweet, but I will say a little bit of the Bad Donato goes a long way. Along with some of the other recordings that reviewers have compared this to on this site, I am reminded of Zappa’s Hot Rats period instrumentals. The only difference is that Donato is not trying to demonstrate some amazing dexterity as an instrumentalist, each track is tight and never outstays its welcome. Starts off brilliantly with the slick groove of A Ra, which I know from Gal Costa’s underrated Cantar album. Everything has a real big beat on this album, and one gets a feeling that everyone just had fun on the session. One of my favorite instrumental albums, in the jazz-funk vein…by…lanky caravan….~


This is an early, maybe the earliest successful amalgamization of Jazz, Funk, MPB and Bossa Nova. The album reminds me at times of Herbie Hancock’s album, Fat Albert Rotunda. Keyboard player João Donato may be heard on numerous productions by people like Sergio Mendes, Cal Tjader, Antônio Carlos Jobim, the list goes on. This California session involved, among others, Jeff Porcaro, Bud Shank, Dom Um Romão, Chuck Domanico, Ernie Watts, Oscar Castro-Neves and Tommy LiPuma. 
The already existing collaboration with Deodato continues on this album. I particularly love the arrangement of The Frog (A Rã). Before this album, I hadn’t been aware that great song was composed by João Donato. It’s been covered many times, the best being the versions by Gal Costa and Sergio Mendes. Listen to Deodato playing the melody on the wahwah-distorted organ, juxtaposed by the funky horns, then he repeats the melody played by the horns; all this is driven by a super-funky beat - check out the two drummers! - fantastic! Other highlights include Cadê Jodel (The Beautiful One), Malandro, Lunar Tune and Celestial Showers….by…yofriend ….~


This is a classic early 1970’s recording of super-funky Brazilian music of the highest order. I first heard of this record by a DJ friend of mine. He played a few tunes in his regular set and I was floored. When this re-release came up on Amazon I jumped immediately. 
The liner notes explain how the record came to be. Joao Donato had already made a name for himself in Brazil with his lovely jazz sound and piano playing, and he was invited to make this record at his complete discretion. He brought in a cadre of fine musicians and made a tight collection of incredibly funky and influential tunes. If you grew up in the 1970’s, you will hear all those cop show themes in this music - it’s clear where they got their influence! 
This is jazz/Brazilian/funk at it’s greatest. If you have any interest in those sultry Carioca sounds, instrumental grooves, funky breaks or just like to hear an electric piano get a workout, this is a must-have….by… Michael H. Ricereto….~


In 1970 Brazilian genius João Donato was living in Los Angeles when the Blue Thumb label offered him carte blanche to make a record. Produced by Emil Richards, horn arrangements by Deodato, this is a funky Brazilian monster! 
Featuring Bud Shank,Dom Um Romao,Ernie Watts,Conti Candoli,Chuck Domanico,Oscar Castro Neves and the best of L.A.s session men. 
A totally essential Brazilian Funk monster of an extremely rare album!….~

“A Bad Donato” was an attempt to break into the contemporary overseas market. I wanted to be successful and bossa nova wasn’t my thing anymore, it was too much singing — João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim were all working closely with lyrics. Frank Sinatra had recorded their songs. Yet, my music didn’t fit into any genre, or if it did it was jazz that wasn’t such a commercial success. Jazz musicians were moving more into popular music, such as Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery, and they were starting to play to big audiences. Fusion came along and my record was something like that, a fusion of Brazilian music with jazz rock and electronica.’ 
“I don’t play acoustic piano on this record at all, just the keyboards. At the time, music was very raw, noisier. The Beatles were happening, shouting out their lyrics, and Jimi Hendrix … who shouted with his guitar. And I made the noisiest record I can ever remember making.” 
–João Donato, 2004, liner notes….~

This record has so accumulated so much respect among the “rare groove” crowd that it is no longer particularly rare or known. As the quotes above show, this could be looked at an effort by Donato to “cash in”, so to speak, but with lovely results. Having been approached by the label Blue Thumb to make any kind of record he wanted, he felt encouraged to update his sound and gave him a bunch of cash to go buy new electronic instruments and contemporary albums to contextualize them. The only old tune on here is the first one, ‘The Frog (A Rã)’, which had been a hit for Sergio Mendes and would be recorded quite a few other times (including by Gal Costa on an album he arranged for her, ‘Gal Canta’). The rest of the material is written for the session. Also unique is that he wanted to have “two of everything” — drummers, guitarists, bassists… The two-bass idea didn’t work out, however. Donato chose to use a bunch of musicians from Stan Kenton’s orchestra, in particular Bud Shank who had helped João out considerably after his move to the United States, along with Brazilian luminarias like Dom Um and Oscar Castro Neves. They brought Eumir Deodato in after the sessions had already begun, and João is right to point out that this collaboration precedes ‘Thus Sprach Zarathrustra’ by two years but basically sets the blueprint for it. And the closer you look and listen, the more it is obvious that this album is not at all about ‘cashing in’, as much as jazz purists would have called this album a sell-out. Donato was taking his cues from what interested him in contemporary music while dealing with the perpetual musical wanderlust he has always demonstrated. When he was not collaborating with some of the most significant figures of musical hybridities in the second half of the twentieth century (Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Eddie Palmieri and Dizzy Gillespie for starters) Donato was constantly pioneering trends and then abandoning them for new pastures while others made them into successful and lucrative genres. From when he essentially invented bossa nova on the accordian (inspiring João Gilberto), inaugurated bossa-jazz combos, or making one of the adventurous early jazz-funk-rock/fusion albums in ‘A Bad Donato’, he was always one step ahead of just about everyone. And in all this electric career his playing and arranging style has always been inimitably his own and warmly recognizable. Every track on this album is intense even when offset by sunny jazz-pop sensibilities. The two-drummer approach lends an almost ominous quality to certain moments much like double-tracked drums can achieve. Personally I would like to have heard what some these tunes sounded like with only one drummer (Dom Um Romão, principally) just to hear the difference, as sometimes I wonder if its a touch ‘too much’ having two — although, as is the case with many a classic album, I don’t really think I would want it any other way. Not much point in picking highlights since this short record is a winner from start to finish, but lately I have been particularly fond of ‘Celestial Showers’, the appropriately-titled ‘A Lunar Tune’, and the percussion-heavy ‘Debutante’s Ball’. 
It is nice that the reissue CD prompted João Donato to write new liner notes reflecting back on this album which. It is a drag that they couldn’t find some outtakes or bonus tracks from the session, however — since the original album clocks in at a mere 28 minutes of music. This is the first official release of the album on CD……~


João Donato – organ, piano 
Ernie Watts, Jack Nimitz, Bill Hood, Don Menza – reeds 
Pete Candoli, Conte Candoli, Jimmy Zito – trumpets 
Jimmy Cleveland, Ken Shroyer – trombone 
Bud Shank – flute 
Oscar Castro Neves – acoustic guitar 
Warren Klein – electric guitar 
Chuck Domanico – bass 
Mark Stevens, Paulinho Magalhães, Dom Um Romão – drums 
Joe Porcaro, Emil Reichards – percussion

Tracklist 
A1 The Frog 2:33 
A2 Celestial Showers 2:36 
A3 Bambu 2:24 
A4 Lunar Time 4:58 
A5 Cade Jodel? (The Beautiful One) 2:09 
B1 Debutante’s Ball 3:02 
B2 Straight Jacket 3:30 
B3 Mosquito (Fly) 3:01 
B4 Almas-Irmas 2:54 
B5 Malandro 2:37 

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