This review appears in the April 2011 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:
By David R. Adler
In frequent visits to Brazil since 2005, guitarist Anthony Wilson laid the groundwork and nourished the alliances that led to the marvelous Campo Belo, featuring André Mehmari on piano, Guto Wirtti on bass and Edu Ribeiro on drums. Hailing from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, these players are so talented it’s almost startling — bold and resonant in sound, adaptable to any mood or vernacular reference Wilson desires, able to swing mightily when called upon.
Wilson’s press material states that Campo Belo isn’t supposed to be a “Brazilian project,” and it makes sense: his Savivity (2005) and Jack of Hearts (2009) weren’t typical organ trio dates either. This is how the guitarist operates, striving to transcend idiom and forge a consistently original voice. His 10 pieces on Campo Belo are flowing, harmonically imaginative, stamped with his crisp and three-dimensional guitar tone, which leaps out elegantly in the mix. The orchestrations are uncluttered, and Wilson’s writing, intricate as it often is, never lacks a sense of clear melodic purpose.
Certainly the Brazilian influence rears its head, in the joyously spinning rhythm of “Valsacatu,” or in Ribeiro’s uncommon snare drum pattern at the start of the leadoff title track. The clarinet and accordion parts on “Flor de Sumaré,” courtesy of guests Joana Queiroz and Vitor Gonçalves respectively, add a subtly indigenous flavor, even as Wilson’s modernist harmony complicates the setting. Mehmari’s accordion on the bright and lyrical 7/8 piece “Edu” creates a similar folkloric effect.
“After the Flood,” meanwhile, is an unapologetic blast of jazz, swinging and metrically devious. The closing “Transitron” finds Wilson and Mehmari stretching out on unresolved chords, propelled by an erratic ostinato groove. In contrast, the gentle “Elyria” has country-music echoes — Ribeiro’s train-like snare couldn’t be more ideal. It’s the most vivid example of cultures intermingling to the point of seamlessness. And it’s hard to imagine anyone but Wilson and his mates dreaming it up in the first place.