40 years into his career, singer, percussionist and guitarist Nanny Assis recently released “Rovanio” (which is his real first name) on In+Out Records. The St. Petersburg Orchestra and Randy Brecker on flugelhorn open up the subtly swinging “No Agora”, an excellent introduction to Nanny’s Brazilian-flavored influences. Ron Carter originally wrote the tune (as “Mr. Bow Tie”) and Nanny wrote new lyrics, with Danny Assis assisting on vocals. There is the gentle Bossa of “Nenhum” where Nanny shows off his elegant, deeply introspective vocal. Ulysses Owens Jr. plays drums on this one. “The Northern Sea”, with lyrics by Janis Siegel, is another beautiful, saudade-style Bossa, with the orchestra adding a sweet, melancholic touch and Chico Pinheiro on guitar. A rare beauty which also features a soft soprano sax, courtesy of John Ellis.
Things get a little more percussive on “Human Kind”, written by Chico Pinheiro who plays a jazzy, convincing solo on the track. Highly in-demand saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin guests on “Amor Omisso”. She bursts out at the beginning; the Afro-Brazilian vibe easily gets to you. The album also features one of the most cherished Brazilian standards: on “Manhã de Carnaval”, the Luiz Bonfá classic, Nanny offers one of his finest vocal performances, with superb guitar and bass work by Chico Pinheiro and Ron Carter, who always played Brazilian music if you go deeper into his discography. A nice add! I really dig the wistful and nostalgic “Back To Bahia”, with lyrics by Nanny’s daughter Laura. The track also features one of my favorite Brazilian musicians on vocals, guitar, and percussion: the great Vinicius Cantuária. No one plays the guitar like him. Igor Butman adds finesse on his alto sax. Another beauty here which easily connects.
There is also a Fred Hersch composition: “Mandevilla” turns into “Proponho”, with lyrics by Janis Siegel and Daniel Assis. Janis and Nanny join forces on harmony vocals, like they do on their Requinte Trio project. Fred Hersch adds his own touch with surprising facility. The album closes with another gently swinging piece: on “Insensatez” (not the Jobim classic), Laura Assis convinces with her lead voice which perfectly complements the sax work by John Ellis. The album is available as a limited, numbered, audiophile signature edition on vinyl.