Miles Davis said that Hermeto Pascoal was "the most impressive musician in the world."
Pascoal is a master of many instruments and leans toward the avant garde. You can hand Pascoal “anything”, he will make music with it. While he can use technology, he’s not reliant on sophisticated engineering to create complex sounds. When it comes to music, Pascoal is, undoubtedly, as his moniker states, a virtuoso “o Bruxo.”
Pascoal was born in a remote region of Brazil without electricity in 1936 and went on to shape post Bossa Nova Brazilian Jazz, and as of date has been prolific and influential in the world of Jazz.
I started out listening to Pascoal’s work with Airto Moreira on Quarto Novo’s 1967 album and was impressed at how many instruments he played and his virtuosity on each as so many times, multi instrumentalists are ‘jacks of all trades, and masters of none,’ but Pascoal mastered the instruments he plays.
My second taste of Pascoal was on the 1971 Airto Moreira album produced by Gary McFarland “Natural Feelings.”
Miles Davis featured Pascoal on the 1971 album, “Live-Evil” on which he composed three cuts.
I’ve followed Pascoal since the early 1970s, and my favorite album is “Slaves Mass,” 1977 produced by Flora Purim for Warner Bros. featuring Ron Carter on bass, and the ubiquitous Airto Moreira on percussion/drums.“Slaves Mass” is an unrecognised masterpiece. The album moves flawlessly from structured compositions to Free Jazz. The compositions move from pleasant to disturbing, to elation to insanely frenetic, and the album never gets boring.
Airto’s polyrhythmic percussion work drives the album flawlessly from one cut to the next so there’s no slack.
“Slaves Mass” is one of those innovative albums that many Jazz musicians listen to and draw from the experience. Unfortunately, the album never made the mainstream because it was overshadowed by more commercially digestible fare.
For those of you who care to dig deepper than the superficial layers of music and are adventuresome, “Slaves Mass” will take you on an enjoyable, hypnotic adventure.