“Wainapel proves that he is amongst the most imaginative, sensitive and creative saxophonists of the post-Coltrane era…” —The San Francisco Examiner
“Wainapel displayed incredible intimacy with the language of Brazilian music and great stage presence…” —O Globo (Rio de Janeiro)
Can a man serve two masters? If the cat in question is Bay Area reed expert Harvey Wainapel, and the disciplines are jazz and Brazilian music, the answer is a resounding yes. A supremely eloquent clarinetist and a saxophonist of unusual presence and power, Wainapel is a truly ambidextrous artist who has delved deeply into two vast and variegated traditions. Of course, musical currents have ebbed and flowed between the two continental nations for much of the past century, and Wainapel is fully at home at the confluence of those influences (he’s toured widely with Brazilian jazz giants Airto Moreira and Flora Purim). But most of the time he’s got his feet firmly planted in one country or the other, even if his experience in the south shapes his work as an improviser. “The Brazilian side injects a lot of emotion into my playing, and it opened up my concept of melody and harmony,” Wainapel says.
Wainapel (pronounced wine-apple) got his start as a jazz musician, and over the past three decades he’s collaborated with masters such as pianists Kenny Barron and McCoy Tyner, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, drummer Billy Hart, and fellow reed expert Joe Lovano. He made his recording debut as a leader with 1994’s At Home/On the Road (JazzMission Records), a critically hailed post-bop session exploring compositions by the likes of Woody Shaw, Sam Rivers, and Wayne Shorter. Wainapel followed up two years later with Ambrosia: The Music of Kenny Barron (A Records), featuring a suite of Barron’s tunes arranged by Jeff Beal for the Metropole Orchestra and a set of Barron’s Brazilian-inspired music for a sextet with Marcos Silva on keyboards. Kenny Barron himself was on hand for piano duties on Wainapel’s acclaimed 1998 straight-ahead quintet session The Hang (Spirit Nectar/JazzMission), which also features drummer Kenny Wollesen and the brothers Phil and Larry Grenadier on trumpet and bass, respectively.