Pianist and composer Helio Alves has received high praise as an in-demand sideman with Joe Henderson, Yo-Yo Ma, Slide Hampton, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Paquito D'Rivera, Claudio Roditi, Oscar Castro-Neves and Gato Barbieri, to name but a few. And now, with more than 40 recordings as a sideman - and two at the helm of his own ensembles - this incomparable musician is quite deservedly earning respect as a leader too.
Alves' second recording as leader, Portrait in Black in White (Reservoir Music, 2004), once again displays his impressive mastery of both straight-ahead and Brazilian jazz styles. The release is highlighted by four Alves originals - Frenzy, Sambetinho, Loose Samba and Song for Anna - and features his longtime musical friend Santi Debriano on bass and Matt Wilson on drums.
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Alves' work melds a percussive edge with a lively, fluent right hand. --John Ephland, Downbeat
His performances were technically astonishing, showing great rhythmic, harmonic and improvisational strengths, which few, if any, could match. His melodic free form inventiveness and sense of time stood out like a free spirit seeking to liberate itself from all traditional constraints. --Bruce Gilman, brazzil.com