Label: Far Out Recordings (UK)
Catalog: FARO 225LP
2024 repress. LP version. Includes 60x30cm poster. From the slums of Recife in Brazil's North-East to international jazz icon, Amaro Freitas has worked tirelessly to become the artist he is today. His debut and sophomore albums Sangue Negro (2016) and Rasif (FARO 205CD/LP, 2018) arrived on a wave of instant acclaim. His new album Sankofa -- a spiritual quest into the forgotten stories, ancient philosophies and inspirational figures of Black Brazil -- is his most stunning and sincere work to date. But for Amaro Freitas, work isn't just playing the piano, his art delves far deeper than music theory and practice. Explaining the impetus behind Sankofa, Amaro elucidates the imperative behind his music: "I worked to try to understand my ancestors, my place, my history, as a black man. Brazil didn't tell us the truth about Brazil. The history of black people before slavery is rich with ancient philosophies. By understanding the history and the strength of our people, one can start to understand where our desires, dreams and wishes come from." Sankofa is an Adinkra symbol depicting a backward-facing bird. He soon came to understand what it represents, and it became the foundational concept for his new album. With the help of Jean Elton (bass) and Hugo Medeiros (drums), who have formed the Amaro Freitas Trio since the very beginning, Amaro employs intricate rhythmic patterns and time-signature variations as if reimagining the ancient designs of his ancestors, and every track is imbued with a message or a story Amaro is compelled to tell.
"Baquaqua" highlights the seldom told story of the West African Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua, who was brought to Brazil as a slave but escaped to New York in 1847 where he learned to read and write. The delicate "Vila Bela" takes its name after an area near the Bolivian border, in Brazil's Mato Grosso region, where the 18th century Quilombola queen Tereza de Benguela led the black and indigenous community in resisting slavery for two decades. "Nascimento" is a warmhearted tribute to the great star of Minas Gerais, who Amaro sees as a talisman of contemporary Black Brazilian culture. "Ayeye", Sankofa's most joyful moment, means celebration in Yoruba and features gorgeous, fluttering piano, shuffling hi-hats and a stuttering bass groove, at times sounding as much like a D'Angelo or Alicia Keys hit as it does Bill Evans or Thelonious Monk. Named after a mythical bull from the tropical region of Maranhão, "Cazumbá" represents the interdependence of all living things. A jazz rock pulse represents a noisy urban city port, and as the track develops it's as if the group moves out into the tranquility of the rainforest river.