REVIEWS

Nate Najar- AQUARELA DO BRASIL

BADEN POWELL: Canto de Ossanha. PIXINGUINHA: Carinhoso. A.C. JOBIM: Amparo (Olha Maria); Chovendo na Roseira (Double Rainbow); Fotografia. TOMMY CECIL: Samba for Felix. CHARLIE BYRD: Charlotte’s Fancy. BADEN POWELL: Canto de Ossanha (Extended Version).

Nate Najar (guitar), Tommy Cecil (acoustic bass), Harry Allen (tenor saxophone), Duduka de Fonseca (percussion) and Chuck Redd (drums and vibraphone)

Candid CCD 79988

Guitarist Charlie Byrd came into international prominence with his introduction of Bossa Nova into the USA in the 1960s. Nate Najar was attracted to Byrd’s playing whilst taking guitar lessons at school in Washington D.C. On this new CD Najar plays the classical guitar originally owned and played by Charlie Byrd on many of his recordings.

On a well-chosen mixture of popular standards and originals Najar’s playing is impeccable. He uses his very impressive technique and musicality on every track to great effort. Overall this is one of the most enjoyable music performances I have heard for a long time. All the tracks are excellent, with Najar supported at the highest level by Cecil, Allen , de Fonseca and Redd. I was fortunate to have known Charlie Byrd for many years and I know he would have been delighted and thrilled by Najar’s performance on this CD. Beautifully recorded, this CD release follows the excellent CD, ‘Blues for Night People. The Nate Najar Trio remembers Charlie Byrd’, by the same trio released around two years ago.

Duke Ellington famously said there are only two types of music – ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’. The music on this recording is very ‘Good’ and I am sure classical guitarists can learn a lot from Najar’s performance and interpretation.

Maurice J. Summerfield – Classical Guitar Magazine July 2014

Nate Najar Trio – Aquarela Do Brasil Candid CCD 79988 (57:49)

Given that all the great jazz guitarists for many years have been plugged into the mains, with multiple results, it remains rare for a player to opt to be unamplified. There was Charlie Byrd, of course, and latterly our own very impressive Remi Harris. Now here’s another – New Yorker Nate Najar. I had been aware of his skill from hearing his 2012 Candid release Blues For Night People, the latter composed by his inspiration, the brilliant Mr Byrd. This mixed set had a few Latin elements, but the new one is entirely devoted to the music and rhythms of Brazil – not all classifiable under the ‘bossa nova’ heading.

Nate’s actual power source is as before – Tommy Cecil on bass and Chuck Redd on drums and vibes – with the bonus on two tracks of sublime tenor from Harry Allen, evoking the early- ‘fifties Getz innovations. Eight of the ten tracks are those enchanting melodies we’ve heard played or sung under varying titles – four of them naturally by Tom Jobim himself.

The jazz content is sometimes questionable, when Nate simply romps along on the tunes – most deservedly on what must be the world’s best-known Latin song, the title track, which, in short, is Brazil. But on the three tracks where Chuck Redd moves on to the vibes, and the two with Allen’s tenor, the facile swing is there in abundance. This is a very useful CD for getting that party going.

Les Tomkins – Jazz Rag Spring 2014

 

Aquarela do Brasil

(Candid – 79988) by the NATE NAJAR TRIO features Brazilian music. Chuck Redd on drums and Tommy Cecil on bass join guitarist Najar for a program of ten selections.  Harry Allen adds his tenor sax for two tracks, while drummer Duduka Da Fonseca joins the proceedings for two other tracks where Redd switches to vibes.  This is a lovely and understated outing.  The musicians are wonderfully empathetic giving the entire project a warmly personal feeling.  Najar has developed into an outstanding guitarist who always surrounds himself with musicians who push him to new heights.  He definitely has absorbed the essence of the Brazilian sound in his playing, as is evidenced on Aquarla do Brasil.  (www.natenajar.com)

Joe Lang – Jersey Jazz Journal September 2014

 

Aquarela Do Brasil; Nate Najar, acoustic guitar.

With several new releases over the last few years, it would appear that the career of guitarist Nate Najar is making some positive headway. For this very original session, he features the acoustic guitar a la Charlie Byrd. As the CD’s title suggests, it’s an all-Brazil session with both familiar and newer tunes. Much Brazilian music is of course all about the joys of life, and Nadar and his talented friends find just that groove with ease. The “friends” in his basic trio are Tommy Cecil, bass, and Portland fave Chuck Redd, drums. Chuck switches to vibes on two tunes, handing the drumsticks over to Duduka Da Fonseca. A very welcome guest on two selections is the tenor giant Harry Allen. There are bright and happy things going on here one mo- ment, and wistful delicate things the next. All in all, just pretty, satisfying music to brighten your day or enhance your evening.
Candid; 2014; appx. 65 minutes.

George Fendel – Jazz Society of Oregon (http://www.jsojazzscene.org/) July 2014

 

THE NATE NAJAR TRIO, BLUES FOR NIGHT PEOPLE, CANDID 79992

Guitarist Charlie Byrd may not be an instantly recognized name but he is very important in jazz history because he introduced the Brazilian rhythms of the bossa nova to North America, recorded the classic Jazz Samba album with Stan Getz and began an important subgenre in the Jazz world.

Blues For Night People is Washington, DC guitarist Nate Najar’s tribute to Byrd recorded with two of his longtime sidemen, Tommy Cecil and Chuck Redd, with Najar playing one of Byrd’s old guitars. Of course there are a few bossa nova tunes here, including the one that started it all, “Desafinado”, but there are other nice aspects to this set as well. “Django” is played with a swinging shuffle rhythm, Duke Ellington’s “Single Petal Of A Rose” is done as a slowly expansive solo guitar feature and “Have You Met Miss Jones” becomes a spot where Cecil’s sliding bass and Redd’s slick brush work come to the fore.

There are a couple of good Byrd compositions included, the fast and funky title track and “Swing 59” a creeping blues with Redd switching to vibes. The most ambitious piece is a trio take on “Concierto De Aranjuez”, best known as the lead track on Miles Davis’ Sketches Of Spain. This has Najar and Cecil fleshing out the melody with grand flamenco flourishes before settling into a funky samba groove. The understated but infectious power of Charlie Byrd’s music is recalled in this set and Nate Najar shows that he can work in Byrd’s world of tenderness and swing as well as anybody.

Jerome Wilson – Cadence Magazine | July Aug Sept 2013

 

NATE NAJAR TRIO ****

BLUES FOR NIGHT PEOPLE/REMEMBERS CHARLIE BYRD (CANDID CCD 79992)
Najar (guitar) with Tommy Cecil (bass), Chuck Redd (drums,vibes) NYC 2012
In an elegant tribute to one of jazz’s under-feted musicians,Nate Najar and his confreres capture the ethos of Byrd’s music delightfully well, with Redd’s vibes work an especial pleasure. The programme is intelligently wide ranging and the Trio is imaginative in the way it recasts old war-horses such as O Pato, Desafinado, Duke’s Single Petal of a Rose and the always gorgeous Have You met Miss Jones?. A classy act that maybe deserves more than a short review. The thing is that for all it’s quality I can’t imagine in these download /iPod days that too many people are going to rush out and buy it. Pity,it deserves a healthy audience.

Richard Palmer – Jazz Journal

 

Blues For Night People; Nate Najar, guitar.

Seven or eight decades ago, Charlie Christian “plugged in” the guitar and sorta changed the world. From that time until the present, few guitarists have chosen to remain un-amplified. Laurindo Almeida and Charlie Byrd come to mind. In fact, it is Byrd who is paid tribute here by yet another un-amplified guitar whiz, Nate Najar. And just for the record, the guy who doubles here on drums and vibes is longtime Charlie Byrd trio member Chuck Redd. This trio is rounded out by Tommy Cecil (see Bill Mays review above) on bass. It’s no surprise that Najar’s tune list leans strongly in the direction of compositions either played often or written by Byrd. And there’s an attractive variety as well. Consider these: “Django,” “Desafinado,” “O Pato,” “The Single Petal of a Rose,” “Have You Met Miss Jones” and “Who Cares.” Najar also adds his own “Remembering Charlie Byrd,” a lilting closer. On all these and a few others, his beautifully recorded sound is a delight. And how very nice it is that Byrd, one of the bright lights of Washington D. C. jazz, should be honored on this wholly delightful recording.
Candid; 2012; appx. 59 minutes

George Fendel – Jazz Society of Oregon (http://www.jsojazzscene.org/) March 2013

There are not many jazz guitarists today who use the acoustic guitar as their primary instrument. One who does is NATE NAJAR, and on his new album, Blues for Night People (Candid – 79992), he pays tribute to one of his main inspirations, Charlie Byrd. Joining him for this outing are Chuck Redd on drums and vibes, and Tommy Cecil on bass. The program mostly reflects songs that Byrd recorded, two of them being Byrd compositions, “Blues for Night People” and “Swing 59.” As Najar mentions in the liner notes, Byrd was attracted to tunes that had strong melodies, and that is obvious throughout the album. Many listeners came to know of Byrd’s artistry through his role in helping to popularize the sounds of bossa nova for American audiences, so the inclusion here of “Desafinado,” “O Pato” and “Someone to Light Up My Life” is not surprising. Najar avoids traveling down the road of imitation, rather captures the spirit of Byrd’s playing while retaining his own individual voice. He has perfect partners in Redd and Cecil, both of whom played with Byrd many times. When Najar closes with his own composition, “Remembering Charlie Byrd,” the merging of Najar’s artistry with Byrd’s influence becomes clearer than ever. (www.natenajar.com)

Joe Lang – Jersey Jazz Journal January 2013