Duo Ladeira’s debut is fusion without the pretension

Duo Ladeira is a Brazilian musical duo who do not come from Rio, São Paulo, or Salvador. As described in their short interview below, their influences are diverse. Listening to their music, one is aware of these influences while noting that this duo has arrived at a familiar yet fresh sound.

Their debut album, Ladeira, is funky, jazzy, rocky, melodic, and played with intensity rather than intellectualism, which sometimes afflicts “jazz fusion” music. The variety of rhythms from Brazil and elsewhere adds interest, and the melodies are interesting and accessible.

I can only assume that “O Siléncio de Frodo” refers to the protagonist of Lord of the Rings. The juxtaposition of quieter, reflective passages with more active sections seem to illustrate musically the character’s inner conflict and the melancholy he experienced when his quest was finished.

A good example of the duo’s ability to incorporate new sounds is their interpretation of “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” Francisco Tarrega’s well-known Spanish classical guitar composition from 1896. This reminds me of early 70s progressive rock/folk groups, such as Gentle Giant, even though the driving 6/8 gives it a distinctive but subtle Afro-Latin beat.

Duo Ladeira is Dudu Rossi (drums) and Eugênio Neto (guitars and cavaquinho). Here’s the duo’s story, in Neto’s words:

Tell me about your professional background leading up to Duo Ladeira

We’re from Vitória [capital of Espírito Santo state]. Myself and Dudu Rossi started playing professionally around 1993 [separately]. From then on, we worked with several local artists at bars, nightclubs and concert venues all over the state and surrounding states. Since we grew up listening to all sorts of music, we were always interested in dabbling in each musical genre. Throughout the years we’ve worked with artists and bands with the most varied styles, like rock, pop, MPB, jazz, blues, regional music, Latin music, etc. So we always strived for versatility in our approach to our instruments. I believe that’s quite noticeable in our work.

We should note that we’ve known each other for about 20 years, and we played together a lot in the late 90s, thanks to our musical and personal affinity. But, for professional reasons, we ended up growing apart for years. In 2013, Dudu felt a great need to develop a project of his own, because despite having toured and recorded with several artists, he hadn’t developed an authorial project in which he could exercise complete creative freedom. On that basis, we got back in touch and decided to launch this project [Duo Ladeira]. I already had several compositions awaiting a partnership for development.

I’m pegging this project as jazz fusion – do you agree with that

I think that makes a lot of sense, because this work dabbles in styles such as samba, baião and other northeastern rhythms, Latin rhythms, Afro, funk, rock, waltz, balladry, etc. But we always stick with the jazz language, and our creative flights are certainly derived from jazz, which is a great passion of ours.

Who would you name as influences, both in terms of MPB and
international music?

As far as this album is concerned, the main influences were MPB and instrumental music. Countless names come to mind – we could cite Djavan, Gilberto Gil, João Bosco, Joyce, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Chick Corea, Michel Camilo, Joshua Redman and Richard Galliano, among others.

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