Brazilian Funk Duo Balako \\ Under the Influence
Introducing Brazilian duo Balako. The pair—AKA Diogo Strausz and Rodrigo Peirao—met in LA in 2015 and struck up a musical relationship. Balako translates to “a good type of mess”, which goes some way to describe their eclectic and infectious sonic approach. They make their own vintage sounding edits from scratch with 70s disco, carimbo, funk and salsa influences.
To celebrate the release of their debut single Hora De Balako, Diogo Strausz and Rodrigo Peirao tell us in depth about their five favourite Jazz albums as we take them Under The Influence.
Elevator To The Gallows OST \\ Miles Davis
Two things I love: Nouvelle Vague movies and Jazz, and it’s incredible how during the specific period they always seemed to walk hand in hand. Louis Malle’s 1958 melodrama Elevator To The Gallows wasn’t only a visual masterpiece with mind blowing performances from the recently passed Jeanne Moreau and Simon Carala—it’s also good to add that this specific movie also paved the future of Jazz. The reason for that?
Malle was a genius to cast Miles Davis to score his film, stealing the show with one of the most beautiful original soundtracks ever to shine on the silver screen. Miles recorded the whole session inside a movie theatre, improvising on top of the ongoing movie. It’s good to state the birth of cool jazz was conceived right there. Miles took the movie to a whole next level (the soundtrack is even better than the film itself). The session was recorded in Paris, and Miles used a pickup quintet to accompany him, featuring top notch French musicians and legendary drummer Kenny “Klook” Clarke, who worked with musicians such as Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, and lived his later life as expatriate in Paris. Genérique & Chez Le Photographe du Motel are my favourite two pieces on this work, two of the most beautiful jazz tracks ever and you can surely see how it influenced the sound of Miles in upcoming masterpieces such as Flamenco Sketches, Stella By Starlight and So What.
Duke Ellington & John Coltrane \\ Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
This 1963 classic just wins for me for some specific reasons. Firstly, we have here the conjecture of John Coltrane’s rising saxophone when his solo career was skyrocketing with Duke Ellington; an established key jazz figure of the time. The cross of Trane’s prolific, avant grade and spiritual sound fused on many tracks which shaped Duke Ellington’s career, are simply historic. Also, this album for me carries my personal favourite jazz piece since my early teenage years, which is In A Sentimental Mood; the most delicate and soulful jazz piece ever, which contributed massively for me to fall in love with this genre.
Duke’s approach on Take The Coltrane is also mind blowing and extremely energetic. Just like the first track mentioned above, My Little Brown Book is also one of the songs which really touches our souls in very specific way, Ellington’s glissando opening melody and merge of Trane’s tender Saxophone are overwhelming for any situation.
The other tracks are also very personal, each in a way, plus the ensemble of artists such as: legendary drummers Elvin Jones which on some tracks alternates Sam Woodyard, bassists Jimmy Garrison & Aaron Bell. The type of record which I would listen daily basis for a very long time.
Bill Evans Trio \\ Waltz For Debby
Bill Evans is my favourite Jazz pianist, musician and definitely one of my life heroes. Not only an outstanding performer, his philosophical teachings on subjects regarding life were always a north to myself. With a classical music background, his perfectionist skills on the piano always impressed me hugely. He’s the only white guy performing on the biggest selling and most influential jazz album to date: Kind of Blue. Even though I’m crazy about pianists such as Monk, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal and Keith Jarrett (all of them supreme masters of the instrument), Evans’ shy appearance and extremely sensitive, emotional and romantic performances always blew me away.
Waltz For Debby released in 1961 is one of the records which really got me into loving Jazz. Accompanied by bassist Scott LaFaro & drummer Paul Motion—and recorded live on The Village Vanguard in New York—this record is just perfect from side to side. The track that entitles the album is a blend of a classic waltz structure fused with modal jazz, and the way the track flows on the uptempo and downtempo in such a natural way has always mesmerised me. My Foolish Heart, also a track recorded in many sessions led by Bill, has its most beautiful take on this record. Always when I listen I find myself pondering how amazing is the chemistry is between these musicians; the conversations they have through their instruments is very unique and inspiring.
\\ Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus
Sonny Rollins’ 1957 classic Saxophone Colossus is just one of the outstanding portraits of the end of the Bebop era. The ensemble put up by Rollins for this session is magical, all time jazz legends such as; Max Roach on Drums, Tommy Flanagan on piano and Doug Watkins on bass. The energy of Sonny’s sax is perfectly showcased in this record. From slow ballads like the immortalised standard You Don’t Know What Love Is—which Sonny almost seems to do all in one only in one single breath—with Roache’s steady drum pulse and Flanagan’s beautiful melodic piano at the back. It passes by other tracks such as Strode Road which Max simply destroy with crazy drum fills. The approach of Sonny’s interpretation on the all time American classic Mack The Knife is also a pure bliss. Definitely one of those records that stands the test of time and every jazz fan should get to know.
Stan Get & João Getz featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim \\ GETZ /GILBERTO
I’m pretty sure this was also my first contact with Jazz, and of course this record really deserves it. The melting pot of Rio de Janeiro, Bahia & Los Angeles, narrow the perfect equation for a soulful and sunny state of mind. You can close your eyes and transport yourself to a beach in Rio de Janeiro.
This record is the stamp of Bossa Nova’s finest period, making it one of the biggest selling records in history (the version of João & Atrud’s Girl of Ipanema over sold the Beatles!). João Gilberto’s unique guitar touch and whispered way of singing highly, makes him the perfect sub for Stan Getz’ lifelong partner Chet Baker. Also add the maestro Tom Jobim and his compositions and beautiful arrangements, this album marks one of the most important moments of Brazilian music history, it’s the definition of the crossover between Jazz & Samba. This album paved the way of Brazilian music and its artists to the world, giving immense credibility on this authentic music that came out of our land.
I recommend listening of the B side tracks such as: Pra Machucar Meu Coração, O Grande Amor e Vivo Sonhando. The rest was probably over heard in cafés and Pottery and Barn.
JS | Diogo Strausz and Rodrigo Peirao