Ed Motta – Perpetual Gateways (2016)

Ed Motta - Perpetual Gateways (2016)
Artist: Ed Motta
Album: Perpetual Gateways
Genre: Soul, R&B
Origin: Brazil
Released: 2016
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

01. Captain’s Refusal (4:44)
02. Hypochondriac’s Fun (3:26)
03. Good Intentions (5:31)
04. Reader’s Choice (3:00)
05. Heritage Deja Vu (4:19)
06. Forgotten Nickname (5:46)
07. The Owner (3:44)
08. A Town In Flames (6:52)
09. I Remebre Julie (4:40)
10. Overblown Overweight (7:31)


Perpetual Gateways is Ed Motta’s first album recorded in the U.S. It’s only the second time he’s worked with another producer, Kamau Kenyatta (Gregory Porter). The Brazilian songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and arranger has, on 11 previous albums, displayed a canny ability to realize an astonishing array of musical and lyrical ideas in virtually any genre he chooses. Cut over five days in Los Angeles, Perpetual Gateways features a studio dream team of players: Patrice Rushen on various keyboards, Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums, bassists Tony Dumas and Cecil McBee, and horn men Rickey Woodard and Curtis Taylor on tenor sax and trumpet, respectively. Like its predecessor, the superb AOR, Perpetual Gateways is structured in halves like a vinyl record. The first leans more toward sophisticated pop, soul, and funk. “Captain’s Refusal,” with Greg Phillinganes on clavinet, directly references Aja-era Steely Dan with its loping horns, breezy melody, and funky backbeats. “Hypochondriac’s Fun” follows suit with an even meatier groove à la Stevie Wonder’s Music of My Mind. Rushen delivers a killer piano solo through the funky clavinet and horn vamps. The “Mister Magic” reference on “Good Intentions” is an excellent touch, and it remains funky as the melody develops into something more compelling (Donny Hathaway’s M.O. on Extension of a Man comes to mind). Here and on “Reader’s Choice,” Motta’s prodigious vocal gifts shine. The second half of the album contrasts, moving in a contemporary jazz direction. It’s accessible, sophisticated, and groove conscious. “Forgotten Nickname” is a spacy ballad framed by Rushen’s Rhodes and acoustic piano as they illuminate the intimacy in Motta’s tender vocal. A gorgeous flute solo from Hubert Laws adds depth and texture. “The Owner” and “A Town in Flames” are more uptempo. The former showcases Motta’s gift for vocal syncopation, and it feels almost like George Duke producing early Andy Bey with lyrics by Ben Sidran. (The words in each song are remarkable. They’re alternately humorous, passionate, and poignant.) The latter is a rhythmic powerhouse with Smith double-timing the band as the horns rise to meet him with tough, earthy vamps. “I Remember Julie” is excellent vocal jazz. Motta’s voice is sweet but strong. It reins in the knotty melody and elastic rhythms to illuminate the groove. “Overblown and Overweight” is killer modern jazz, Brazilian style. It’s unusual for Motta; his compositional focus has almost always revealed the subtleties and complexities of Brazilian jazz harmony rather than its celebrated — and obvious — polyrhythmic adornments. But this track is far more Hermeto Pascoal than Joao Gilberto. Motta’s wonderful scat singing inspires the band to cut loose and engage in stellar interplay, and Smith and Rushen dazzle. With Perpetual Gateways, Motta builds on the polished pop and R&B of AOR with a more spiritual soul- and jazz-oriented approach. This may be a sequel, but it’s one that extends the reach of its predecessor immeasurably. The music may sound familiar on first listen, but similarities vanish on the second, where Motta’s complex, refined, and utterly revelatory vision emerges.
Review by Thom Jurek