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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

DOM UM ROMAO

By TOM TERRELL
Published March 3, 2006

Dom Um
Dubas Musica/Universal

Drummer/percussionist Dom Um Romao is the Max Roach of Brazilian bossa nova. In the mid-’50s, his Copa Trio was the house rhythm section for the legendary Sunday jam sessions at the Little Club (the Little Club was to bossa nova as Minton's Playhouse was to bebop). In ’64, Philips released Romao’s debut LP, Dom Um. Basically a jazz big band session, Dom Um features compositions by bossa nova godfathers Waltel Branco, Joao Mello and Orlandivo. On first listen, the music comes across as, well, ah, breezy. Advice: PRESS PLAY AGAIN AND PUMP UP THE VOLUME. Out of the blah and into the land of tight, coolly swinging arrangements, breezy yet pungent brass, exquisite solos, urbane piano vamps, snap ’n’ crackle percussion and splendiferously agile bass. Romao is genius: Effortlessly flipping from ticking Carnaval rhythms on hi-hat to dropping Gene Krupa-esque tom-tom bombs throughout “Birimbau (Capoeira).” The consummate straight-ahead jazz timekeeper (“Jangal,” “Zona Sul” and “Vivo Sonhando”). The Supreme Master of Afro-Brazilian Time and Space: “Africa,” “Zambezi,” “Samba Nago” and “Dom Um Sete.” Dom Um went on to influence not only generations of Brazilian jazz musicians, MPB arrangers and film soundtrack composers, but many of their peers in the Afro-Latin jazz world as well.