Joao Donato brings his flavour, now near synonymous with his name, to a new album in the Jazz Is Dead series with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Joāo Donato JID007.
On the first day of recording, João Donato was so flattered that to learn Younge and Muhammad had crafted some tunes for him to grace that on the second day, the maestro showed up to the studio with a composition in honour of his new musical partners: “Adrian, Ali and Gregory.” Gregory (aka Greg Paul) delivers an effortlessly buoyant rhythm to support Donato’s whimsical and wistful Fender Rhodes. Younge and Muhammad added the flute melody after the sessions, a perfect tribute and compliment to this master arranger, sweet and melancholic at the same time. Building off a sinister interlocking drum and bass pattern, Donato, Younge, Muhammad, Paul and vocalist Loren Oden, assemble a swaying and swirling tune with a romantic mantra, “Nāo Negue Seu Coraçāo,” which translates to “Don’t Deny Your Heart.” Aspirational saxophones dance among cascading monophonic synths, a churning Hammond B3 and cutting fuzz guitar while Donato’s subtle and slinky Fender Rhodes leads the way through the musical maelstrom. Delivered in Portuguese, Loren Oden sings the song’s emotional energy into existence.

If Jon Lucien made a fusion album, it would have sounded something like “Forever More.” Oden’s vocals capture the longing and romanticism of the title, while the rhythm section harkens back to the last album Donato recorded in Los Angeles in 1970, a jazz fusion fore-runner full of pulsing polyrhythms and urgent melodies. “You guys made me like L.A. again,” Donato told Younge and Mohammad towards the end of his 2019 trip to record this album and perform at the Jazz Esta Morto series.